3 Unconventional Tools to Collect Great Data

Whether you’re an old data pro who wants to liven up your data game or a newbie just looking for ways to get started, here’s a roundup of great ways to get to know and engage your audience.

Everything on this list is free (or close to it), so you should have an easy time convincing your boss to let you give it a try.

Snapchat Part I: Please Don’t Pay for an Ad

The beautiful thing about Snapchat right now is because it’s relatively new advertising turf, there’s a ton of room for experimentation. The rules and etiquette for brands and events are still unwritten.

Luckily, the best way to be on Snapchat is also the cheapest. Try creating personal, informal and candid Snapstories in the vein of Snapchat superstar DJ Khaled’s bizarre Nike ad during the VMAs this week. If you need a little inspiration, start by following a few of the greats on Snapchat.

Instead of whining about how Snapchat doesn’t have great analytics (okay – pretty much any analytics), try using a DIY system like the one developed by CrowdBabble to help you track your progress.

Don’t waste your media budget on an official Snap ad that interrupts what people want to see, try making your own casual and informal stories. Look for ways to get people swipe up — like by asking poll questions, offering Snapchat takeovers or hosting AMAs.

Snapchat Part II: Geofilters Are Your Friends

Even if you have a small budget for your event, you can try out Snapchat’s Geofilters. At about $5/20,000 square feet, Geofilters are an absolute steal.

Plus, unlike your usual Snapchats, paying for a Geofilter gets you some basic reporting about impressions and engagement. Since Snapchat users tend to be much younger than other platforms (60% are 13-24), you can get a quick read on how you’re doing with the elusive under-25 crowd.

Fun tip: try crashing the competition’s event by buying a Geofilter on their turf.

Here’s the short answer on Snapchat: because it’s harder, fewer people are trying hard at it. Be scrappy and take advantage of the last chapter of an only semi-commodified Snapchat. This is the time to carve out an audience, while there is less radio noise.

Polling Station: Make It Simple & Beautiful

A new leader has emerged in the online form game. Typeform has created a beautiful, simple, and oh-so-mobile friendly platform for creating all kinds of forms.

Rather than overwhelm people with a long (and boring) list of questions, Typeform offers up one friendly question at a time in an easy to digest and friendly format.

Typeform also offers some killer integrations through Zapier, which means that you can quickly connect a poll’s results to Salesforce, Slack, Google Docs and a whole lot more of your favorite tools.

Screenshots from Typeform

Magpi Messaging: Old School Is Still Cool

While SMS messaging isn’t exactly at the cutting edge of technology, it’s still a weirdly effective way to communicate with a large group of people with a very low cost and barrier to entry.

Newer tech, like apps and beacons, are great for more advanced features, but you still have to develop a separate app for Apple & Android and then spend money convincing people to download it.

The advantage to using SMS to collect data is the only piece of information you need from someone is their phone number. Despite the simplicity of the format, it’s quite possible to collect detailed data by using branching logic. Using tools like Magpi (free for up to 6k responses) you can engage and poll everyone at your event, not just those with a smartphone.

Plus, like Typeform, it Magpie uses Zapier to let you connect to all your favorite tools.

screenshot from Magpi

Data Is What You Make Of It

While there’s a ton of really advanced tools to help you collect and understand your data (ourselves included), it’s important to remember that the principals of collecting data and using it to improve your work are the same at every scale. Starting scrappy is the perfect way to try out new data ideas.

So stay curious, collect data, and act on it!

How are you collecting data? We’d love to hear about some of your favorite tools. Tweet us @Umbel!