In a relationship, dialogue never stops. It’s impossible to know all you need to know about someone, which is why you should strive for more information on an ongoing basis.
At the same time, a small number of actionable attributes (in the 10 to 15 range) are the power behind many of the best programs. While hundreds of data points may be leveraged to compute end values, the day-to-day program is based on the maintenance of a small set of critical attributes that get updated regularly.
The best way to receive information directly from your constituents is by asking.
When collecting data on the phone, it’s important to make sure that your salespeople or customer service folks know what data you need and why. Data collection is often a team effort, meaning that a meeting between two departments could make the difference between thousands of data elements being collected or none being collected.
Most Web forms fail because they ask too many questions (or worse, questions that the marketer already knows the answer to). Risk and friction must be low in order to encourage individuals to answer. And any collected data must be used. Not using data will erode trust and perhaps prevent further participation when questions are asked.
Email is the perfect way to fill in data points once you know what data is valuable, and what data is missing from different constituents. Almost every email you send should give the recipient a chance to answer a question or two.