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According to research from Boxever, 60% of customers want marketing to relate to where they are and what they’re doing. Yet, 62% said they don’t want brands to track their location.

These contradicting results epitomize the challenge we marketers face every single day. Gaining audience insight while respecting individuals’ privacy is a balancing act – one which X percent admit they have yet to get right.

Customers’ desires for both personalization and privacy will only keep rising. For marketers, the time to adapt is now or never. Let’s commit to collecting first-party audience data using tactics customers not only tolerate, but – dare I say it – enjoy.

Keep reading to learn about four creative ways to keep your customers happy while getting the data you so desire.


Businesses often confuse gamification for actual, well, games. It’s an honest mistake. In actuality, gamification involves challenging a customer to take a certain action – think of it as a call-to-action playing devil’s advocate.

Why it works

Gamification encourages customers to engage in an activity they might not otherwise – like filling out a survey, completing a member profile, or participating in a contest. The value of gamification lies in the data users provide – either before or while engaging.

A study by Engage Research and GMI found that gamified customer surveys outperformed traditional surveys by up to three times. What changed? They replaced the request, “Describe yourself” with, “Describe yourself in exactly seven words.”

Another business brought gamification in-house, incentivizing salespeople to collect as many [prospect] email addresses as possible. The result? They collected more email addresses using three months of gamification than they did in a whole two years without it.

Competitive creatures, we humans are.

Make it work for you

Your best bet for winning over customers with gamified content? Implement social features wherever possible. Be it sharing, commenting, reviewing, or competing, games with these elements rank higher than traditional games across the globe. Research from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) found that 56% of avid gamers play with others.

The popularity of player-versus-player (PVP) games only validates this fact. In a comparison of the most popular games of 2015, Zynga’s mobile app Words with Friends [grossed] 90% more records than its competitors.

Location data

Forget door-to-door marketing. Utilizing location data allows you to hone in on areas where business prospects live, work, and buy.

Because of this, location data yields more precise marketing and fewer dollars wasted by – figuratively – walking in circles. Consider the case of the travel company Voyages SNCF, which saw a 36% increase in ROI after using geolocation data to power its local campaigns.

Why it works

The ever-growing use of mobile devices makes geolocation data more accessible than ever before. By 2019, global mobile traffic will reach over 18 Exabytes per month – more than double the estimate for 2017 (For reference, one Exabyte equates to one quintillion bytes, or one billion gigabytes).

As Helen Thompson from Esri explains, “Every transaction, customer’s home address, IP connection for an Internet search, social media post, product delivery, and even lost sale and missed opportunity can be located somewhere.”

Thompson illustrates this fact with a bubble chart of the many sources of location data. From search to IP address to point-of-sale, actionable customer data exists everywhere you turn.

Make it work for you

In order to narrow down your options, choose a source based on what data you want to collect.

If you want to gauge foot traffic around your retail store, for example, use in-store beacons to track customers as they come and go. Keep this info handy for future campaigns. Also, according to Microsoft, 89% of customers say they would share their data in exchange for location-based deals.

Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are the gift that keeps on giving. Why? Your loyalty program members are your most fervent customers – they buy big and often. According to Accenture Interactive, loyalty program members spent 12% to 18% more than non-members.

Why it works

All that purchase activity boils down to one thing: Data. Search data, product preferences, return frequency – you name it. Research shows that businesses with loyalty programs in place collect 52% more data than those who don’t.

According to Wall Street Journal, data acquired through loyalty programs could be worth upwards of $8 trillion.

Make it work for you

Successful loyalty programs operate on incentives. Research shows these features are the most popular among loyalty members:

  • Ability to earn rewards both in-store and online (81%)
  • Ability to sign up by text message (72%)
  • Ability to redeem points instantly on credit card purchases (70%)
  • Location-based coupon notifications (67%)
  • Integration with a mobile payment system (67%)

Wide range of rewards and offers to choose from (63%)

User testing

Got a product prototype or new website you’d like to share? Consider offering a usability test.

Usability tests – sometimes called alpha tests, beta tests or user tests – allow members of your target audience to take your “in progress” productions for a spin.

Why it works

In a nutshell, usability tests allow you to gain both user opinion data and UX data in a single go.

Most usability tests require users to meet certain criteria (i.e. your target audience specs) in order to participate. From there, testers notate their experiences with and opinions of the product they’re testing and report it back to you.

Plus, you don’t need to invest much to get good results. Jakob Nielsen found that 85% of site usability problems can be identified using just five users.

Make it work for you

Usability tests make a viable alternative to focus groups and other qualitative research. Think about applying traditional research methods like open-ended surveys in addition to digital research methods, like A/B testing or heat-mapping.