Fundamentals: Collecting data

One of the most exciting things about owning a website is the ability to collect data. Large companies pay big bucks for a glimpse into the buying habits of their customers. With some careful planning, your website can set you on a path to knowing some of the things that the big boys know.

Some of the things that websites can tell you about your users:

  • Approximate location
  • Type of browser
  • Length of time they spent on your site
  • Path they took while navigating your site
  • What search term they used to arrive at your site
  • What site they clicked over from

With some prompting and proper motivation, you may also be able to entice users to cough up their names, email addresses and even phone numbers, and addresses.

Be careful with what you ask for though. The modern consumer is very wary of giving away personal information online. If you don’t explicitly need a piece of information, consider not asking for it. You will have increased the chance that the information you really need will be filled in.

There is something called “permission based marketing” that you might be familiar with. The basic premise says that if you give, you shall receive. Try to isolate a few small benefits that you can open up to your customers if they pony up with their information.
Things to say to a developer

  • What experience do you have with data collection?
  • How does your system collect and display the results of data collection?
  • Can you give an example of how data mining has allowed you to pro-actively steer the future course of a website or campaign?

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