Zero-Party Data

Data Collection Best Practices: How to Build Trust, Be Compliant, and Leverage Data for Growth

June 19, 2023
Jace Farran

Navigating the changing data compliance landscape can be tricky, but we’ve got you covered with these data collection best practices and tips.

We already know the power of consumer-consented data, so let’s talk about best practices for collecting it. With data & privacy regulations changing and web cookies being phased out, it’s increasingly important to connect with customers and ask directly for data in new ways.

According to a recent Shopify report, only 33% of customers believe brands use their data responsibly. Brands that want to connect with their customers must understand best practices for collecting, storing, and using consumer data.

Here are our tips for the best ways to use data to build trust and connect with your customers meaningfully.

Click on the links below to skip ahead:

Make the Value to the Customer Clear
Ask at the Right Time
Don't Ask for Too Much
Let Users Skip Opt-In
Don't Lose Visitor Data
Optimize Design for Readability and Ease of Use
Be Transparent (and Compliant)
Keep Data Secure
Have a Plan for Using the Data

1. Convey the Value of Data Collection to the Customer

You know how valuable data is for your business, but your customers may wonder what’s in it for them? Getting someone to share their zero-party data willingly may take some convincing. From privacy concerns to time and effort, people need a good reason to share things about themselves with a brand.

Here are some ways to provide value to your customers in exchange for data:

Offers and Discounts: The “Welcome Offer” pop-up is a popular way to grow eCommerce subscriber lists. This makes it clear what the subscriber receives immediately.

An example of a data collection pop-up with a 25% off offer and free shipping.
BistroMD provides instant value in exchange for signing up for their email list.

Pro Tip: Increase conversions with dynamic one-time use coupons instead of generic ones to make sure users don’t look up promo codes and skip the signup process.

Information: This could take the form of a free downloadable guide in exchange for an email sign up, or freemium paywalls that block certain content until a user subscribes. 

Custom Recommendations: Quizzes provide an extremely high value exchange—for a few minutes of visitors' time, they get personalized quiz results, and you learn about their preferences, habits, budget, interests, and lifestyle. 

An example of a product recommendation quiz design.
With a short quiz, Pressed Juice helps you find the right product based on your tastes, health, and habits.

Save shoppers time and mental energy of hunting through your entire catalog with a product recommendation quiz. That’s why it’s helpful to include the estimated time to take a quiz right on the first page of your quiz.

Convenience: Saving your customers time and mental energy is really valuable. Allowing users to save their progress or viewing history can incentivize them to create an account or opt-in to share data. Let them know!

Having a Voice: Sometimes people just want to feel like their voice matters. Surveys are a powerful way to gain insights into how customers feel about your brand, website, products, checkout process, and more.

An example of a how did you hear about us survey for collecting customer data

Let customers know how you use their feedback to shape your business.

Giveaways and Sweepstakes: Prizes can be a huge motivator for sharing data—if the reward matches the ask. No one will write a 5-page essay about your brand for the chance to win a $10 gift card, so keep that in mind. But at a 34% conversion rate, giveaways are definitely effective for list growth.

2. Collect Data at the Right Time

When it comes to asking for data, timing is important. You have to build trust before customers will share things about themselves.

For example, if you have an eCommerce quiz designed to recommend health supplements, you may ask sensitive health questions. It’s a good idea to start with some softball questions before diving into their medical history.

The same goes for colleting an email address. Asking later in the quiz lets them get to know your brand, what kind of data you’re collecting, and how it’s used. That helps build trust and a sense of commitment to completing the quiz.

It’s also important to ask questions based on what stage a customer is in their journey. For example, a post-checkout survey is a great time to get immediate feedback about your checkout process, rather than via email later when it’s not as fresh in their minds.

3. Don’t Ask For Too Much Data

Asking for too much data too often can turn consumers off. Here are some common mistakes when it comes to asking for data:

Mistake 1: Asking Too Frequently
Showing the same pop-up several times per session is a surefire way to increase your bounce rate. Eventually, visitors won’t close it—they’ll just close your site.

Limit how many times a visitor sees a message per session, and make sure they only see messaging relevant to them.

Mistake 2: Asking for Too Much Information
Filling out forms or surveys can be tedious, so be intentional about how many fields your forms include.

A good rule to follow: unless you have a plan for using a specific data point, you probably don’t need it.

When creating a product recommendation quiz, it's tempting to gather a lot of customer profile data, whether or not it's necessary to make a recommendation. Quizzes are great for gathering that data, but asking too many questions increases drop-off rates. To keep quiz takers engaged, prioritize questions that determine quiz results.

Mistake 3: Asking for Too Much Effort

Be mindful of how many steps, clicks, redirects, inputs, and tasks you ask visitors to put up with. 

For example, if a customer enters their email to get a coupon code, provide the code on the thank you page, rather than making them go to their inbox to look for it.

An example of a pop-up design with a dynamic one-time use coupon shown after data is collected
Including a coupon code immediately after signing up is convenient for the customer and more likely to convert.

You also don’t want to ask for their email address over and over. One way Digioh streamlines user experience is with hidden fields that pass data we already have, such as your email address. That way we don’t have to ask users who are already on the list to enter it again and again.

4. Let Users Skip Opt-In

Acquisition is important, but is it more important than conversion? Sometimes requiring an email address isn't always the right move. 

Here’s a specific use case: a customer is on the cart page but is about to leave the site. You have a split second to convert them. This isn’t the right time to gate a coupon code. Instead, show an exit-intent pop-up that cuts right to the chase: get 20% off right now! Here’s the code! No need to enter your email address. In fact, the only catch is that it’s only good for the next 10 minutes.

If you get the sale, you still have the opportunity to get their email at checkout!

An example of an exit intent popup design with a countdown timer.
An example of an exit intent pop-up that skips the sign-up and shows a promo code on the first page to reduce cart abandonment.

With quizzes, not everyone wants to sign up to see their results. Include a “skip and see results button,” and make sure it’s prominent. We’ve seen up to a 70% reduction in quiz drop-off by using large skip buttons.

an example of a quiz email capture page design that lets users skip data collection to see results.
PrivateGym has a prominent “Skip and See Results” button to reduce drop-off.

While it may seem like a wasted opportunity to gather data without getting an email address, not all is lost... 

5. Don’t Lose Visitor Data

Even before you collect a visitor's email address, you can use their provided data to display relevant messaging. With Digioh, once customers do opt in, their profile is updated and consolidated across all devices. That means you can let users sign up at their own pace, without losing any visitor data.

an incognita character in a trench coat who is an anonymous user, sending collected data points into a funnel. A user profile is created based on that and when they sign up it is not longer anonymous.
Digioh’s Anonymous ID grid allows you to track and target unknown visitors before they sign up. When they opt-in, their profile is updated.

6. Optimize Design for Readability and Ease of Use

Smart, accessible design increases completion rates for forms, surveys, and quizzes. That’s especially true on mobile devices. It’s important that text is readable, there’s breathing room between fields, and buttons are easy to tap accurately. 

example of good mobile form design for data collection  vs bad design.
Fields and buttons that are too small or close together are difficult to tap on mobile.

Sometimes breaking up large forms into smaller steps can have a huge impact on completion rates. Conversational forms are a popular alternative to daunting longer forms.

An example of a conversational form that asks questions in small steps instead of a long form. It asks  about renting vs buying a house, how many bedrooms, zip code, etc.
Conversational forms can break up long forms into easily digestible steps.

Progress bars can also keep users engaged and reduce fatigue. Making it easy for your site visitors to complete a quiz or survey will drastically increase your zero-party data collection.

7. Be Transparent (and Compliant)

Be clear about what data you collect and how you use it. Not only is transparency important for legal compliance, it helps build trust. GDPR and CCPA require websites to protect people’s personal data and privacy. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines.

Here are some ways to increase transparency:

  • Opt-In Boxes: Include a required affirmative opt-in checkbox with disclosure text on your forms.
  • Privacy Policy: Link to your privacy policy in your opt-in forms to communicate what data is collected and how it’s used.
  • Cookie Usage: CCPA requires opt-in consent for cookies that track personal data. Opt-out consent is mandatory for both CCPA and GDPR.
  • “Why do we ask” Tooltips: If you ask a quiz question that seems personal, explain how that information benefits the customer.

An example of a "why do we ask this?" tooltip that explains why a quiz question is asked.
An example of a “Why do we ask?” tooltip to explain a question that seems out of place.

Some questions may be sensitive, so telling customers that information improves product recommendations helps build confidence. But sometimes, questions aren't even particularly personal—just odd. Bedgear asks users for their shirt size, which seems out of place for a pillow finder quiz! The tooltip explains that it helps determine the distance between your shoulders and head, which is important for finding the right pillow size.

8. Keep Collected Data Secure

Nothing destroys brand trust like a data breach. If your customers trust you with their personal data, it’s essential to protect it. Treat data security, transfer, and storage with the utmost importance. 

Key Security Points:

  • Login security features like Multi-Factor Authentication and multiple user accounts (rather than shared passwords) help protect user data
  • GDPR and CCPA have specific requirements around data security and storage, including what types of security measures are taken, where data is stored, and how it’s transferred
  • You may opt to obfuscate data or bypass data storage on third-party app servers and send it only to your back-end system
  • If a user requests to provide or delete their data, you must do so in a timely manner
  • Work with technology and marketing platforms that are SOC2 Type II Certified

9. Have a Plan for Using the Data You Collect

Why collect data without a plan to use it? It seems obvious, but according to a recent CommerceNext report, more than 50% of brands surveyed don't take full advantage of their data. Stop missing opportunities to connect with your audience, and build a data-driven marketing strategy.

Here are some ways to use your consumer-consented data:

Personalization: Go beyond “First Name” merge tags for truly personalized experiences. Examples of email and website personalization include:

  • A quiz results page that references the quiz taker’s preferences and tastes
  • On-site banners that dynamically display their favorite brand
  • An email with a customer’s product recommendation quiz results
  • Saved preferences like clothing size or favorite flavors on the product page
  • Personalized offers and CTAs
An example of a custom results page for a quiz that shows the best meal plan program based on collected data
BistroMD's personalized results page explains why they picked this particular program for you, referencing your name and other details you provided.

Retargeting: Use data to entice visitors back to your site. You can even use quiz results in your retargeting campaigns on the Google Ads network. Then, show return visitors personalized on-site messaging based on data they provided.

an example of on-site retargeting ad campaign that references previously collected data

Segment: Build out segments based on customer preferences, interests, demographics, and other data customers share with you. Speak directly to their interests and needs.

Abandonment: Customers abandon for all kinds of reasons, so make it as easy as possible for them to pick up where they left off in the sales process.

Some ways you can use data to reduce cart abandonment:

  • Cart Reminder emails
  • Saved cart items pop-up
  • "You last viewed these products" widget
  • Free shipping threshold reminders and upsells
  • Low stock notifications on product pages
  • Out-of-stock notifications with follow up emails
An example of an out of stock notification on a product page.
ReserveBar uses out of stock notifications to make it convenient for shoppers to come back when their favorite liquor is back in stock.

Marketing Budget: Understanding your audience can help focus your marketing efforts. Use quizzes and surveys to learn what they’re passionate about, where they spend their time, and more.

Learn More About Data Collection

Hopefully these best practices for collecting data help you not only collect data, but use it to grow your business. For a complete breakdown of consumer-consented data, here are some other articles you might like.

Collect more Data and Use it by Booking a Demo with Digioh

Jace Farran
Head of Demand Gen
Jace Farran is Digioh's Head of Demand Gen with an extensive background in web design. He has direct experience in eCommerce, publishing, and agency settings, working in a wide range of areas, including email marketing, content, and social media marketing. Jace is passionate about providing valuable content and communicating through design. He lives in New York with his family.

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