Marketing is as much about the data as it is the message. The ability to communicate with your customers about the things that are of greatest relevance at the moment of greatest value defines modern digital marketing. Whether it’s third party data or zero party data, without it marketing becomes guess work.

The absence of data means any hope of delivering targeted messages becomes pure fantasy. You’re reduced to sending generic messaging with a smattering of products or offers in the hope that someone bites.

Historically businesses have relied on third party data, notably data collected by platforms like Facebook. However the move towards a more privacy-centric internet is making third party data less reliable.

It’s also something of a dirty word among consumers. The perception by consumers is businesses using third-party data can’t be trusted. The data wasn’t earned or given with the consumer’s consent and therefore it’s tainted.

In addition to the data being worth less, businesses now have to contend with the perception that they are, in some way, dealing under the table.

With the long threatened cookiepocolypse looming ever closer, it has never been more important for businesses to take charge of their customer data.

First Party Data

With the move away from third party data, first party data is becoming increasingly important. This is the data that you’ve gathered from your customers as they interact with your digital estate.

The more first party data you can gather, the more accurate your communications become. Order history, search history and more all help you to create a segmented customer profile. You can then use that customer profile to create highly personalised communications, whether that’s email, SMS or push notifications.

You can also use this data to accurately measure who your most valuable customers are and nurture them. That doesn’t necessarily mean who orders the most, rather who pays full price the most often. These are the customers who value your products and your service so much they don’t wait for sales.

First party data is immensely valuable to your business not least because it’s yours. You’ve acquired that data by customers interacting with your business via your various channels. It’s reliable and allows you to draw key insights into buying behaviour and potential future purchases.

Managed in the right way it can drive a significant uplift in both engagement and revenue.

However, the big drawback with first party data is it’s only as reliable as the customer’s level of interest. A single purchase doesn’t give you much data to go on. You need a lot of first party data on each customer to really make the most of it.

But focusing on delivering value will drive engagement and allow you to accrue additional data as well as earn zero party data.

Zero Party Data

For all the power first party data represents, the silver bullet of digital marketing is zero party data. Zero party data is the data your customers willingly share with you.

This could be anything from their preferences for communication to expressing specific interest in types of content or products.

The more zero party data your customer gives you the clearer the picture becomes about several key indicators.

Firstly, their buying behaviour, including their level of buying intent.

Secondly, their level of interest in your brand including your product offering and content.

And thirdly, their level of engagement.

The third point is important because this gives you an idea of how well your communications and your content will be received. The higher the level of engagement the more interested they are in your business.

The more interested they are the greater the chance they will respond positively to your communications in the future.

Another key element of zero party data is that it’s accurate because it’s come directly from your customers. The one caveat here is that customer perceptions of themselves can differ from their behaviour. This is why it’s important to capture both zero party and first party data and consolidate it into a single customer view.

Acquiring Zero Party Data

One of the easiest ways of acquiring this information is to ask for it. An email or an SMS that simply asks if they want to receive marketing communications and if so by which channel. Their responses provide two key insights.

  1. How interested are they in your brand and offering.
  2. More obviously, how they prefer to be communicated with. But it’s significant because you can build different marketing campaigns to accommodate that.

However, it’s important to understand that there is an expectation of value exchange when it comes to customers handing over their data. The other challenge is there’s often a disparity between what customers feel their data is worth and what you’re prepared to give them.

Either way, you should be prepared to deliver significant value in exchange for your customers’ information. Whether that’s exclusive content or some form of discount be that a promotion or gift voucher.

The benefit of a value exchange of this type is that it encourages customers to make a purchase which enhances your first party data.

Zero Party Data and Trust

Unless the value exchange is off the charts incredible, customers aren’t going to hand over data just because. Your business is one of dozens that try, every day, to get their audience to share personal information.

Customers are wary about handing over their data because of the pervasive view that businesses will use that information irresponsibly.

Therefore, before you can reasonably expect your customers to answer personal questions about themselves, you need to leverage your first party data.

You need to demonstrate that you understand and care about your customers by presenting them with content, offers and products of greatest relevance and value.

An omnichannel marketing approach helps here considerably. By putting the customer at the centre of the experience, rather than your products, makes your customers feel valued. 

And, thanks to the human mind not being able to distinguish business entities from people, they’ll start to like you.

Nurturing your customers to the point where they are actively engaging with you and trust you is the optimum position from which to ask them for their data.

This makes the value exchange much easier to rationalise for the customer and means you won’t have to offer such an aggressive incentive.

Creating the Customer Experience

To master your digital marketing and the customer experience, your business needs a healthy repository of both first party and zero party data.

Customers can hand over all the data they want but there’s no substituting actions with statements of intent. You need the first party data to corroborate what the zero party data is saying.

Consolidating both data sources into a single customer view allows you to build highly detailed segments. This in turn enables you to build out highly personalised and relevant marketing campaigns and customer experiences.

Where consolidating these two data sources gets really potent is when it becomes self-sustaining.

As your customers engage with your communications and your website you will gather more first party data. This makes it easier to ask for or elicit the giving of zero party data.

Having both sources of data allows you to create next level omnichannel marketing campaigns. And offer loyalty programmes that actually deliver on value rather than just points and vouchers.

It also makes any churn or winback campaigns you have to use infinitely more powerful. Because you’ll ‘know’ your customers far more intimately than your competitors you’ll be able to communicate with them on a more personal level.

And the final big advantage of putting your first party and zero party data to work is your customers will love it. By creating a customer experience in which customers feel understood, valued and ‘part of the gang’ they will become brand advocates. You won’t need a loyalty programme because they’ll go out of their way to shop with you. And promote you online.

Marshall your Data

The ability to consolidate all your data, whether it’s first party, third party or zero party is essential if you want to take advantage of the insight it brings.

Using a customer engagement platform built on a customer data platform allows you to ingest, analyse and segment the data. Once you’ve segmented the data you can then create those personalised campaigns. 

Combining your products, content and incentives, you can target your customers with communications of greatest relevance.

You can then analyse the performance of your campaigns and iterate accordingly.

Marrying your first party and zero party data within a CDP will give your campaigns the best chance of success.

To learn more about how a customer engagement platform built on a CDP can help you marshall your data for greater customer engagement, get in touch to request a demo.

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