The ability to capture zero party data on a regular basis is something that a lot of businesses struggle to implement. The risk of burning goodwill with customers by asking for personal information is high.
Engaging with loyal customers, however, is an effective way to get insightful, actionable zero party data. And deepen the relationship with customers who already love you in the process.
Loyal customers are a boon to any business. Aside from generally being more profitable than new or infrequent customers, they are also more likely to refer you to friends and colleagues. They are also significantly more likely to advocate for you on social media, defend you against detrators and share your content.
Loyal customers can take any business, in any industry, to the next level.
Obviously, building loyalty takes time and relies heavily on a robust customer engagement strategy. The more engaged your customers are with your brand and services, the more likely they are to become loyal.
The challenge for industries like eCommerce and sports betting and gaming is, generally speaking, customers hate it when businesses try to win their loyalty. Largely because it’s built on a transactional relationship. You can’t be loyal to someone or something that only wants your money.
Understanding this value exchange is integral to successfully migrating returning customers into loyal customers. And harnessing zero party data in the process.
Understanding Zero Party Data
Zero party data, when used correctly, can be immensely powerful. This is because it’s information provided by the customer to the business. Whereas first party data is historical (orders placed, searches made etc), zero party data is intent.
Zero party data is the customers sharing their views, preferences and intended behaviours with you.
The more loyal customers are, the more honest they will be in their answers. At least that’s the theory. In practice this isn’t always the case as circumstance can influence answers.
An incentive or prize draw in exchange for the information could unduly influence the answers customers provide. The misapprehension being that answering in a certain way will increase their chances of winning. Or somehow influence the business.
Similarly, the timing of when you ask for feedback can distort answers. Feedback following a complaint or a negative experience is likely to be more critical of the business. Conversely, information provided at the point of highest satisfaction will result in overly positive feedback.
These distortions, and more beside, can make it harder to get a clear understanding of what the zero party data is telling you.
That is why you need to be very clear about what you want that data to do. If you’re looking for the unvarnished truth about your customer service, then straight after complaint resolution makes sense.
Define the outcomes before you ask the questions. Better yet, cherry pick who you’re going to ask. Your first party data will tell you who your most engaged customers are. These are the ones most likely to respond to survey requests because you’ve asked, not because they’re incentivised.
Once you’ve captured the data, cross reference it against what you already know about the customer. This will give you a more comprehensive picture of your customer’s interests and intent.
Building loyalty with customers takes time and relies on you getting a lot right. It also requires you to understand the difference between repeat customers and loyal customers.
You can have a customer spend with you every week but if the average order value is low or they only purchase discounted items, their loyalty is low.
In a B2B setting a client could continue to order goods and services, but if they’re always asking for a discount then they don’t truly see the value in what you do.
A loyal customer will shop with you because of the experience. Not because you’re the cheapest or because your customer service is the best.
Those things help but customers stick around because of how you make them feel. Heard, understood, valued, appreciated. Whatever your offering, demonstrating you understand your audience gives you a platform to engage with your audience from.
It’s important to understand that as a business, you get to decide who your loyal customers are. You can leverage your first party customer data to identify your optimal average order value and segment out customers that don’t qualify.
Or customers who pay full price. Or players that make regular deposits of the same or similar amounts on a regular basis.
As soon as you’ve built a database of loyal customers, you can use the data you have to build an interest based persona. By focusing on interests over incentives, you can reward customers for their loyalty based on what matters most to them.
Tickets to the super bowl for a stalwart NFL fan. Tickets to Paris Fashion Week for the top purchasers of a fashion website.
By delivering experience and value based rewards you create a situation where your brand occupies the same place in your customers’ affections as a close friend.
Asking for Zero Party Data
The more frequently you engage with your audience the quicker that loyalty will build. Leverage as many channels as you can to reach your various demographics to deliver relevance and value to the customer.
When you reach the point where your targeted customers cross from repeat to loyal customers, you’re in a position to ask for their zero party data.
It’s worth remembering that just because they’re loyal doesn’t mean you can’t afford them or cross the line. Whatever information you’re asking for there needs to be a clear business objective that can be communicated to your customers.
‘So we can get to know you better’ is weak and most people don’t buy it. Transparency is best. If it’s so you can create a more personalised website and marketing experience, say so. The vast majority of customers want a more personalised experience.
When capturing zero party data consider the following:
What are you asking for and how are you going to use it. Aside from the risk of annoying your audience, don’t waste the opportunity given to you by loyal customers.
You have their attention and their trust. Use it to ask the questions that will be of most benefit to them. After all, the objective is to create a rewarding experience for loyal customers so they stay loyal. And bring new customers to your door.
Assuming you know what you want to learn from your customers, you need to have a robust process to capture, analyse and segment that information.
Data that has to be manually collated and analysed is useless. Customer preferences and their circumstances can change from one day to the next. You need to be able to ingest, analyse and segment that data in real time.
Make sure you know what actions you’re going to take once you have that data. Outcomes should be identified based on what you already know about your loyal customers.
As soon as the data comes in, there should be campaigns ready to go for those segmented customers to drop into. Again, delay is death when it comes to zero party data.
The Second Ask
This is the hurdle that most businesses stumble over. The discomfort of asking personal questions, and the assumption that you’re being intrusive can be crippling.
While it’s true some customers won’t like it, and some might even be offended, the idea is to target customers who want to help you succeed. Whether they love the brand, the product or the individuals inside the business, your loyal customers want to help.
That means, again, providing they see the benefit of sharing information, they are more than willing to answer your questions time and again. And don’t forget, they don’t have to answer. Equally, a lack of response doesn’t mean you’ve alienated your audience.
Split testing can help determine which questions, or how they’re worded yield the best results.
Leveraging Zero Party Data
Once the flywheel is in full motion, you’ll be in a position to ingest and utilise your customers’ zero party data as part of your wider communication strategy. Coupled with first party data, you can create a hyper-personalised experience based on what customers have bought and what they say they want.
Best of all, it’s a process that only gets more refined the more the customer interacts with you. Providing you keep asking questions, the zero party data and first party data will create a true Single Customer View. And you can use that to create incredible and deeply personal customer experiences.
To learn more about how a customer engagement platform with built-in CDP can help capture data and create personalised communications, get in touch to request a demo.