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3 Data Gathering Strategies That Benefit Both Businesses and Consumers Data gathering is getting tricky. Here are three ways companies can gather consumer data in a mutually beneficial manner.

By Rashan Dixon Edited by Ryan Droste

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Data is powerful. It can generate leads, inform customer interactions and ultimately grow revenue.

Data is also a force that businesses can use for good (or evil). The poster child of the latter is third-party data, which has given the analytics industry a bit of a bad rap in recent years. As third-party data is being phased out, though, it's opening the doors for companies to rewrite the script on data through better data-gathering methods.

Related: 4 Steps to Become a Data-Driven Business

The benefits of healthy data collection

Healthy data collection is the process of collecting, organizing and utilizing data in a legal, honest and safe manner. It's an approach to data that is in everyone's interest.

When a business has certain pieces of consumer and customer data, it can personalize experiences. From customized emails to unique sales offers, customers have better overall experiences when the right data flows between them and the brands they patronize.

Healthy data flow also impacts both ends of the sales funnel by generating a higher number of quality leads from prospective customers. For those close to the point of sale, key pieces of data (such as an email address) can generate fewer abandoned carts. All of this translates to better revenue, which is in the best interest of every company.

The question is: How can companies tap into this positive, respectful approach to using data as we move toward a third-party-data-less future?

Here are a few strategies that companies can use to collect both potential and existing customer data in a manner that benefits businesses and consumers alike.

Related: How Marketers Can Prepare for the Removal of Third-Party Cookies

1. Use on-site software to capture first-party customer data

As third-party data becomes irrelevant, it puts a fresh emphasis on first-party data — data consumers offer businesses with their explicit consent. There are multiple ways to collect this data independently, including directly on your website.

Software solutions can be installed onto a company website, allowing a brand to collect first-party data directly from visitors. This can match anonymous digital identifiers to customer profiles — critically, using data collected with the awareness and acknowledgment of its owner.

The need for healthy first-party data collection is great, especially in a world that is increasingly skeptical of third-party information. The collection of first-party data enables brands to confidently create personalized browsing, individual product offers and targeted cart abandonment emails.

2. Surveys are a neat and clean data-gathering strategy

If a business wants to collect data through its efforts, one of the best ways is through surveys. This is a great way to glean information from online customers as they're on their way out the door.

The most obvious way a survey can help with data is by collecting important personal information. By asking a customer for certain preferences and proclivities, you open up the doors for personalized marketing in the future.

You can also use surveys to gain insights into your customers as a whole. Survey Monkey highlights the importance of closed-ended questions that create clear, quantitative data.

For instance, consider a scenario where a company asks existing customers how easy it was to navigate its website. It offers specific answers in the form of a five-point scale ranging from "difficult" to "super easy."

This provides a growing set of data that comes directly from the customers with their explicit consent. The company can then use it to improve its ecommerce shopping experience, benefiting both the business and consumers in the process.

This can turn one-time interactions into enduring customer relationships. Even better, both parties are fully on board with the exchange of data taking place.

Related: 5 Ways to Build Killer Relationships With Customers

3. Offer giveaways (with reasonable strings attached)

Another way to proactively collect consumer data, even from those who aren't your customers yet, is by using giveaways.

Contests are a great way to encourage engagement and spread brand awareness. They also double as an easy way to get an individual's data with their blessing.

Entering something like a product giveaway often comes with certain stipulations. These might include sharing a post, leaving a comment or signing up for an email list. That last option is a great way to begin generating customer data. Once you have a person's email, you can begin communicating with them and using things like surveys to expand on the data they've already given you.

It's a good idea to use a double opt-in solution to respect the customer, too. This is also referred to as confirmed opt-in, and it consists of a confirmation email that a person must accept before truly being added to a list.

Related: The Demise of Third-Party Cookies: Retaining the Sweet Spot

Campaign Monitor points out that the double opt-in approach has the important benefit of creating higher-quality leads. The additional step of opting into an email list twice indicates that the consumer in question has increased interest in your company to the point that they're willing to put in the extra effort.

From double opt-in giveaways and post-point-of-sale surveys to comprehensive solutions like Resolution, there are multiple ways companies can gather data. These are strategies that benefit businesses and consumers alike, allowing both to mutually benefit from a new, third-party-cookie-free future where data will remain as relevant as ever before.

Rashan Dixon

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Co-founder of Techincon and Senior Business Consultant for Microsoft

Rashan Dixon is a senior business systems analyst at Microsoft, entrepreneur and a writer for various business and technology publications.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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