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The Story of How Field Data Collection Became Everyone’s Best Friend!

Mathew Maniyamkott

21 May 2019

8 min read

Oil is one of the most important resources in the world, there are countries that are ridiculously rich just because they are natural reserves for oil. Today’s oil is data. All of us are connected today with such closeness that there is a concept called ‘six degrees of separation’ which says that “all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps”. Technology has closely connected each of us and all this is possible through the data that we have and share. Businesses that have most of your data can easily target you with the right offer to make you open your purse strings.

Field data collection for marketing purposes is such an important thing because the higher the quality of data that is extracted, better is the ability to target your prospects better.

“Aim for simplicity in Data Science. Real creativity won’t make things more complex. Instead, it will simplify them.” 

4 Types Of Field Data Collection Techniques

  1. Observation
  2. Questionnaires
  3. Interviews
  4. Focus Group Discussions

1. Observation

Observation as a field data collection technique is extremely simple, but it is people and time intensive. It is a quick method to gather data, but if given the chance to automate such a process, then it should be the best. It requires a lot of people and an excruciating number of man-hours making it difficult for companies that have little to no budget find it immensely difficult to implement.

2. Questionnaires

Questionnaires are administered through emails, using printed materials, phone, and online forms and so on. They are easily one of the most popular methods available as it is not resource-intensive. For example, it is easy to send an email to even 1 lakh people if they are connected to you as subscribers or even if you have purchased an email list of prospective buyers. Imagine doing the same with the help of in-person interviews.

There are a lot of things that you can control when you are using questionnaires, you can send it at a time and place convenient for you. The format in which you ask questions can be according to your goals, there is no necessity to pander to a third-party or work based on its restrictions.

3. Interviews

As time and resource intensive this might be, interviews as a field data collection method will never go out of style because there will always be people whose time you would request to get a detailed answer. Interviews also give you the best of insights because you can get deeply into asking tough questions. The interviewee can also be asked to prepare answers in detail by sending them the questions in advance. This bolsters the value of the entire data collection process because there is a lot of information exchange that happens.

Asking the right questions would be the key to collect as much data as is possible. Also, having in-person interview gives you clear answers that cannot be achieved through any of the other means.

4. Focus Group Discussions

In a focus group discussion, you will find people of similar backgrounds who have a similar level knowledge of things in a particular field. As a part of a field data collection survey, questions are asked about a particular product on which changes are supposed to be made. It can be used to get detailed information about opinions, personal feelings and more about the business/product/service.  

Advantages Of Field Data Collection Methods

Higher the quality of data that is extracted, better is the ability to target your prospects better.

While field data collection app requires a lot of resources in terms of installing, monitoring and servicing their business, the results that come from it are multifold, is directly linked to the efficiency of the methods and so on. It replaces obsolete practices like using paper forms which does not have an ounce of productivity in it. Using field data collection methods brings in a lot of advantages for the average user, below are some of them:

  • Increases productivity

Using field data collection tools allows you to evaluate the response immediately thanks to its features because of which you don’t have to wait to send the results to the management. Since you get feedback immediately, you can take immediate steps to address any issues. This makes a huge amount of difference if you can work on a feedback immediately and make the changes in front of the respondents itself.

  • Full functionality even when offline

While doing field data collection, more often than not, you are not in a position to access the Internet. The best part about using an offline data collection app like SurveySparrow is that it will work even without the Internet. All the features would work smoothly without having to wait for any kind of connection. When a business is trying to collect data from offline or remote areas, this becomes a huge help.

  • Save on costs

When you are using mobile forms for your field data collection exercise, not only do you end up saving the time usually taken for a paper survey, you also save a lot of costs. There is the money that you save on paper, logistics and most importantly, thanks to its rich dashboard, there is a lot of understanding of the problem at hand without having to hire external experts to validate the findings from the survey.  

  • Efficiency

Data reveals impact, and with data, you can bring more science to your decisions.”

Using the digital method for field data collection reduces the data collection time as well as the time taken to distribute and analyze the findings. When you are using paper, there is a lot of hassle from carrying, distributing and sharing them. It is difficult to manage them and impossible to get back any information when we lose the paper. The best part about digital forms is that it can be updated and sent to all the stakeholders immediately.

  • Quality of the data

Using an offline survey app for field data collection reduces the possibility of error during the collection but it can also automate the data editing. Errors get caught and corrected easily since the processing and auditing happens faster and almost simultaneously. Digital data is not only easy to handle, but it is almost impossible to lose because you can store it on the cloud as soon as a respondent inputs the data and can also be encrypted if you don’t want to share its contents to all and sundry. This reduces the risk of data leaks and helps in improving the transparency of the data.

  • Tracking

Another important advantage of using a survey tool for field data collection is tracking. In digital field data collection, as soon as a piece of information is entered on the device, the data is available to all stakeholders making it possible to take quick decisions. This way you can also track answers for important questions that need immediate action. Using a tool for field data collection allows you the liberty to track both the respondent’s answers and where your field agent is.

That said, if you are planning on getting a field data collection app, make sure that it has the following features.

 Analytics (done right) should generate insights that bring to life whole new initiatives. It should change what you do, not just how you do it.”

1. Branching Logic

It is also called as skip logic, it is the ability to choose questions based on the previous answers. For example, if the question is “Did you purchase a product from us?” If the answer is “Yes”, the respondent is directed to a set of questions and the one who answers “No” is directed to a different set of questions. This is an important feature since you end up saving a lot of time of the respondents.

2. Multiple Question Types

Asking just one type of question to your respondents to collect a varied set of information is not going to help you much and bores the ones who are giving away their precious time as well. The different types of questions that you should be asking include text boxes, radio buttons, multiple-choice questions, rating scales, star rankings, grids, slider, Net Promoter Score, list of textboxes, questions with more than one answers and so on.

3. Segmentation

A survey tool with the ability to segment customers is one of the biggest advantages as it helps find patterns and the fact that a particular set of customers with a unique answer unearths a lot of behavior patterns can be used to take a lot of decisions. Also, you can also choose the survey tool’s feature to segment customers to include only certain customers as a part of the exercise. This feature helps the business to find out information from different groups of customers. With the help of segmentation, you can compare the data with other subgroups from the same exercise.

4. Response Management

The responses that you get from your respondents in your field data collection exercise is further analyzed to see if any actions need to be taken. If the online survey tool comes with a host of features including response management, you should be able to do a lot of things with it. It includes having the ability to stop the survey after a certain number of responses, trigger actions based on certain keywords, categorize responses and so on.

5. Integration Capabilities

While using an online survey tool for your field data collection is a big step from the time when paper questionnaires were used, it still isn’t a big thing unless the tool has integration capabilities with third-party tools. Having integration features helps with simplifying the entire process and reduces the difficulty level of completing a field data collection to a huge extent.

6. Ability To Capture Audio

When you are on the field to collect data, sometimes it becomes important to get photos and other related media as well since they add a lot of value to the end result. Using different types of media including audio lends credibility to the data collection process. The ability to transcribe the audio would be a big plus as well.

7. Monitoring And Tracking Data

The field data collection app should have the ability to monitor the interactions that happen and use this information to see the kind of behavior that will unfold in the future. The field data collection app should also be enabled with filters that can be used to identify any entity. While the monitoring and tracking data might not fetch immediate results, using this continuously on various such exercises can make a lot of difference.

8. Rich Dashboard

After the data is collected, the rest of the work goes on in the dashboard that comes along with the survey tool. The abilities that the dashboard possesses goes a long way into making or breaking the entire process of field data collection. An online survey tool aids the field data collection process by putting the data into different visual representations that can be used to make business decisions. In fact, a good online survey tool has the ability to retrieve information in real-time when the business is collecting data on the field. This can make a lot of difference if the business has the wherewithal and resources to make changes immediately based on the feedback received.

“The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”


A field data collection process will become successful only if a lot of variables come into place. Paper forms are no more favored much thanks to the multitude of problems and disadvantages associated with it. Paper forms carry with a lot of baggage while an online survey tool like SurveySparrow reduces human error to a huge extent as there are a lot of checks and balances.

Field data collection helps you with the ability to get information from your clients with the help of a survey at any place or time. We have given you tips to optimize the field data collection process using which you can make the best use of the survey tool. Also, remember this, choosing the right data collection method is of utmost importance if you want it to be highly effective.

Despite the immense problems that are a part of field data collection process, using the right tools, accessories and methodology can make a lot of difference. Using the right field data collection methods can help you reduce your costs, increase profits, optimize processes and more. SurveySparrow has one of the most comprehensive and powerful data collection software with impressive features that can make your field data collection smoother and efficient.

Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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