Data is the lifeblood of effective marketing. It helps businesses understand their customers, craft targeted campaigns, and measure results. But not all data is created equal, and the data collection landscape itself is evolving quickly. While third-party data was once the key to digital marketing, businesses are now being forced to look elsewhere for a competitive edge.
Last summer, Apple kickstarted the conversation on data privacy with its iOS14 update. This operating system update included an “App Tracking Transparency” feature that enabled users to selectively opt out of app tracking. Since then, Facebook has seen roughly 88% of global iOS users opt out of tracking, significantly weakening the tracking and attribution abilities of its advertising platform.
In a similar move, Google plans to phase out third-party cookies by late 2024. This decision poses yet another challenge to ad buyers who are accustomed to the effectiveness of highly targeted advertising campaigns.
Faced with these obstacles, marketers are increasingly turning to first-party data as a solution. But what exactly is first-party data? And how can it help marketers adjust to the new marketing landscape? Stay tuned! This article will cover everything you need to know about different data types and how to best leverage first-party data for better results.
What Is First-Party Data?
The first step to improving the digital marketing efforts of a business is understanding the various types of data available. Depending on the source and the nature of the collection method, data can be qualified as anything from zero-party to third-party. Here is a quick overview of each:
First-party data is information that a business gathers about its customers through its own efforts. First-party data can be collected through the company’s website, CRM system, loyalty program or any other interaction that the customer has with the company. This can even include offline data sources like surveys, sales calls, or physical coupon redemption.
Second-party data is another party’s first-party data. In other words, to acquire second-party data businesses must buy data from the company that originally collected the information. This means that second-party data comes from the same underlying sources as first-party data, but requires a transaction to change ownership.
Third-party data is data that is collected by a company that has no direct relationship with the customer. Unlike second-party data, this information does not come directly from the collector. Instead, third-party data comes from data aggregators who gather behavior, interest and demographic characteristics from a variety of sources. This data is then packaged and sold to marketers who want to target specific audiences.
Zero-party data is often lumped into the same category as first-party data, but there is a subtle difference. Zero-party data is information that customers voluntarily share with a business via questionnaires, surveys, and more. While this type of data has obvious potential, it is often limited in scale and can sometimes be tainted by spam.
Why You Need To Collect First-Party Data
As privacy concerns around third-party data tracking continue to make headlines, it’s more important than ever for marketers to make the most of their first-party customer data. Regardless of a company’s approaches to marketing, there are several key benefits to collecting and utilizing first-party data.
Better Data Reliability
First and foremost, first-party data is the most reliable form of customer information. This data is collected directly from the customers themselves, ensuring that the information is accurate and up-to-date. Third-party data, on the other hand, can be old, error-prone, and even manipulated.
Fewer Privacy Restrictions
First-party data is not subject to the same privacy restrictions as third-party data, including GDPR and CCPA. This is because customers have already given explicit permission for the company to collect and use their information. As a result, first-party data can be leveraged for a variety of purposes, including personalization and targeted advertising.
One of the most important benefits of first-party data is that it can be used to create a more personalized customer experience. By understanding who your customers are and what they want, you can tailor your communications and marketing efforts to their specific needs. This segmentation leads to greater engagement, loyalty, and conversions.
Another important advantage of first-party data is that it gives customers more transparency over how their information is being used. Without a middleman in place, businesses also get more transparency and control over their customer relationships. By collecting directly from the source, businesses know exactly where the data is coming from and who all has access to it.
Finally, first-party data can help improve your marketing ROI. Although it takes time to implement data collection and analysis processes, first-party data is essentially free. In contrast, second-party data must be purchased and third-party data often requires ongoing payments to maintain access. When used effectively, first-party data can improve both customer retention and lifetime value.
How To Collect First-Party Data
There are many ways that businesses can collect first-party data. To maximize the quality and value of each data point, marketers can experiment with the following tactics:
A website pixel is a piece of code that is placed on your website to track visitor behavior. This information is then used to create detailed customer profiles, which can be leveraged for targeted marketing and personalization. Pixel data can also be aggregated to provide insights such as website traffic patterns and page-by-page conversion rates.
Lead Generation Forms
One of the most obvious ways to collect first-party data is through lead generation forms. These list building forms are typically used to capture information like name, email address, and phone number. In B2B marketing, companies may also use lead generation forms to collect data like job title, company size, and budget.
Lead generation forms can be placed either off-site or on-site. Both Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, offer native lead generation ads that can be synced directly to a CRM. Otherwise, lead generation forms are often embedded directly into a website. These can be placed in a variety of different locations, including the homepage, landing pages, blog posts, and more.
Remarketing campaigns are another effective way to collect first-party data. These campaigns target website visitors who have already shown an interest in the business but haven’t converted yet. Using the website pixel and a targeted email blast, marketers can collect data about these users and retarget them with more personalized ads in the future. Further, if the user transacts with the business, the checkout form can be used to gather more detailed information.
Improve Existing Data Sources
Businesses often optimize for conversion rates, which generally means using shorter forms and asking fewer questions. However, as first-party data becomes increasingly valuable, marketers must consider the incremental benefit of each additional data point. In certain cases, this may mean that adding additional fields is worth a slight drop in completion rate to further segment or qualify a lead.
Surveys, Polls, and Quizzes
A popular way to collect first-party data is through surveys, polls, and quizzes. These gamified data sources can be used to gather information about everything from customer satisfaction to product preferences. Additionally, this type of content can serve as a lead generator by asking users to provide their contact information in exchange for the results of their questionnaire.
Explore New Channels
Businesses can also create test campaigns on new platforms where their target audience spends time. From online sources like Snapchat, Twitter, and Reddit to offline options like trade shows and brick-and-mortar stores, there are many creative ways to reach potential customers and begin sourcing first-party data.
First-Party Data Management
Data quality is critical to any marketing initiative, but it’s especially important with first-party data. Because businesses are collecting this data themselves, they are solely responsible for ensuring its safety, accuracy and completeness.
For one, first-party data must be continuously updated and cleansed to remove any inaccuracies. This can be done manually or through the use of automation tools. Additionally, businesses should consider investing in a data management platform to help organize and centralize all of their first-party data. These platforms strive to make it easier to segment and activate the data for marketing purposes.
Google Analytics, for example, offers a suite of tools to help businesses collect, analyze and visualize data. Other options include marketing automation platforms like HubSpot and Marketo, which offer lead scoring and segmentation features.
While data management platforms are helpful, they are not always required to make use of first-party data. However, as businesses learn to pull first-party data from SMS conversations, sales calls, and in-person events, finding a way to effectively manage and utilize all of this information will become crucial.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, one thing remains constant—data is still the backbone of every successful marketing campaign. The privacy-related changes brought about by Apple and Google will only increase the importance of first-party data, which is why now is the time for businesses to start collecting it.
With a relatively small investment of time and effort, your business can develop a rich database of first-party data that can be used to improve personalization, customer retention, and customer lifetime value. So what are you waiting for? Start collecting first-party data today!
The opinions expressed here by Guest Contributors are their own, not those of Rise Marketing.