By Rudderstack Team

Different Types of Data Companies Collect: What’s the Catch?

About 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are collected every day, and this number continues to grow. Regardless of the business, its target market, or the services or goods offered, customer data collection can drastically help improve the functionality and optimization of businesses. The types of data generated by businesses can include a users’ location, past searches, IP address, and even the advertisements customers mostly click online. Know more through our blog on the ten companies you wouldn’t expect that collect your data.

When it comes to the collected data, you should know that it offers a huge business advantage. Even more, what are the companies’ responsibilities when storing customer data? Take a look at some of the most popular methods companies use to capture consumer data and how information is managed, stored, and put to profitable use.

Types of Data Companies Collect

The customer data that companies collect can be divided into four main categories:

1. Personal data

This data type includes personally identifiable data, such as gender and Social Security Numbers, and non-personally identifiable information, including web browser cookies, IP address, and device IDs from mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.

2. Engagement data

Engagement data informs how customers interact with social media pages, paid ads, e-mails, mobile apps, business's website, and consumer service routes.

3. Behavioral data

Behavioral data comprises transactional information, including qualitative data, product usage info, and purchase histories.

4. Attitudinal data

Attitudinal data involves metrics on customer satisfaction, product desirability, purchase criteria, and more.

How do Companies Collect Different Types of Data?

Through the years, businesses have created and used very tricky techniques to find out more about customer behavior - both online and offline.

Most of the time, people don’t even notice that companies are collecting info from them. Demographics, preferences, patterns, activity, location, and additional customer info is generated daily. Although customers are not happy about the practice of collecting information, it undoubtedly improves the customer experience.

Here are some of the most common methods companies use to collect information and improve their overall business performance and customer experience:

License Plates

Companies continuously gather specific information about their customers legally. They do it by collecting license-plate images. All information, including a customer’s license plate number and the location where the images were taken, are often resold to global data brokering businesses. Most companies that provide credit checks and ID protection sell license plate images. Companies do that as cards show where the customers have been, their possessions, address of residence, and most frequent contacts.

Cookies

Cookies are an omnipresent asset that always shows up in the customer’s browser settings. Cookies help businesses track their visitors, describe single visits and multiple page views, personalize landing webpages, and enable customers to stay logged in. With cookies, users don’t have to reset their passwords every day, making tracking them easier.

GPS Tracking

Whenever a user downloads an application or check-ins on social media platforms, their location info is automatically stored. Many companies have faced location data transparency-related complications, but customers often thanked corporations for locating their devices when lost or misplaced. Most times, GPS tracking helps users to find the right way from A to B or arrive at any location with ease.

Signal Trackers

Signal trackers are especially relevant for data harvesting businesses. For example, shops can track a customer’s phone signal and accumulate the data of their trip to a shop. Based on this information, businesses can make suitable layout improvements and introduce more specialized offerings.

In-Store Wi-Fi Activity

Numerous people worldwide are prepared to share any information businesses ask for in exchange for open Wi-Fi. Corporations that provide free Wi-Fi not only collect data from the customer’s e-mail address or their social media accounts but also track their activity whenever a buyer visits a brand’s localized shop. With this info, businesses can check whether customers physically visited an Amazon or an eBay shop. Moreover, they can also check which other sites customers visited. Companies evaluate customers’ most common purchasing practices and adjust their product/service offering based on the findings.

Credit or Loyalty Cards

Credit brand cards or loyalty cards offer the easiest way for companies to obtain customers' information and precisely track their purchasing habits. This data helps companies identify individual customers’ preferences, learn more about the types of promotions customers respond to the most, and even determine their favorite shopping days.

Facial-Recognition Cameras

Facial recognition is an incredibly popular and sophisticated data collection technique the majority of data-collecting businesses rely on. Big companies are now using modern technology to recognize customers and target offers based on their buying habits.

As a final point, personal data should not be shared on websites and social networks unless it is for formal purposes, such as for banks or the government. It is remarkable how many sites typically ask customers for your date of birth, so you need to be extremely careful about the information you give. If accurate data is secured online as it is in the real world, the internet might soon become a safe place to share your personal data.

Summary

Customer data helps companies better understand their customers’ behavior on their site/app. This, in turn, helps conduct better marketing campaigns, targeted advertising and improve overall customer experience. Companies must abide by data privacy regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). As a result, secure data collection is the first step towards building better customer engagement and growing your business.