Data has been a hot topic for marketers in recent years.
GDPR, privacy, data and ad tracking are all topics that brands and businesses have had to seriously discuss to ensure their future success. Because whilst data is a hot topic, it is also essential. Without data brands and businesses cannot strategise, communicate, engage, and understand their audience.
The latest buzzword in the realm of data is zero party data. But instead of posing challenges to marketers, zero party data may actually be the solution to data woes that has been right in front of marketers all along.
In this guide, we will introduce you to what zero party data actually is, how it has become so popular, how to gather it, and of course how to use it.
For marketers, better starts here.
What is zero party data?
Zero party data as a phrase was first coined by Forrester and used to describe data that a consumer purposefully and proactively shares with a business or brand.
However, it can be easily confused with first-party data, which is data based on implied preferences such as behavioural or purchase activity. As opposed to being consciously handed over by the consumer.
This data is gathering interest with businesses, brands, and consumers alike as it satisfies consumers’ need for a personalised experience, but also offers them more control over their information. And in turn, zero party data offers brands and businesses increased insight into consumer trends, needs, and desires. Whereas first-party data only offers limited insight based on previous activity.
Zero party data is far more suitable in a world that is focused on privacy, explicit consent, and the safety of potentially sensitive data.
Life before zero party data
Zero party data may be a new concept for some. But personalisation and targeting have been something that marketers have been focused on for a while.
So how have brands and businesses executed these types of campaigns without zero party data?
First party data
We’ve already mentioned first party data, so delve into that a little more.
First party data refers to information collected directly from your consumers based on their interactions with your brand or business.
This could include behavioural and purchase data, subscription data, or even social data.
Whilst not zero party data, first party data is still incredibly valuable and is integral to many marketing campaigns, enabling businesses to automate highly targeted communications based on consumer behaviours. Whilst also ensuring the content of these communications are personalised to the individual.
Second party data
Second party data refers to information that a brand or business didn’t collect themselves, instead, they are using other companies first party data. This is sometimes done between trusted partners who agree to share audience insights that are mutually beneficial, but also kept private.
For instance, if a brand works with an agency partner to re-sell their products, the brand may share their first party data with the agency to use as second party data to target and attract new customers.
Third party data
Lastly, third party data refers to data collected by a brand or business that doesn’t have any link to the consumer. This information is often purchased from an outside source (or, third party!) that are the original collector of the data. These outside sources will collect this data into a large data set and then sell it on as third party data.
Third party data can come with various complications. Since it isn’t collected from a brand’s actual customer base and is also available to their competitors, it is questionable how useful the data is.
Also, third party data can be controversial, as while consumers may have given consent to this data being used, they may not actually want to hear from the brands and businesses that end up contacting them.
So, what changed?
And why is this new type of data suddenly gaining momentum for brands and businesses?
In 2018 GDPR was introduced, which shone a light on the concept of data privacy. Particularly as prominent brands such as Google, British Airways, and Marriott International were involved in high profile data breaches.
As consumers become savvier, they wanted more control over their data. And were no longer comfortable handing over details that previously they may not have questioned.
But in the same breath, consumers also no longer want a one-size-fits-all shopping experience. They don’t have the time or capacity to sift through generic communications and promotions that are meaningless to them. Instead, they want brands to only get in touch with them with information that is personalised to their individual wants and desires.
And this is where zero party data comes into its own.
Collecting zero party data
When it comes to collecting zero party data, there are three stages:
- Identify the data which you need from your consumers to create highly targeted and personalised communications.
- Collect this data by asking questions to your website visitors and customers.
- Integrate this data into your automation platforms so that you can pull it through to your website and communications.
The type of brand or business you are will dictate the type of data you need to collect.
For instance, if you are a clothing brand, you will be interested in age, size, and colour preferences. However, if you are a B2B brand, you will be more interested in job roles, industry, and maybe even location.
In any data strategy, we would recommend spending time on this stage of the project. It’s easy to rush, but it will dictate all of the following steps and set a solid foundation for your data usage.
If you are a newly established business or brand, you may want to begin with covering the basics to get to know your audience and start building the beginnings of an automation process.
However, for more established brands, it’s worth looking at where the gaps are in your data. You likely will know about your audience’s age, gender, and location. But you may be missing more niche but equally useful data, such as their common challenges, trends that they are following, or events they frequent.
Once you have identified the data you want to gather, the trickier stage is actually collecting it. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of tactics you can utilise to encourage recipients to provide you with insightful information about themselves.
For B2C brands, sales is often the first point of contact for new customers. Embed processes at this stage to ensure that specific information is gathered by your sales team. This could include demographic information, job title, and competitors they reviewed.
Self-service registration is commonplace throughout many industries; from clothing and beauty brands to SaaS businesses. This offers the perfect stage to gather essential information on the customer, including name, email address, shopping and contact preferences.
For businesses and brands who have already gathered email addresses, email is the perfect gateway to gathering even more zero party data.
Once in the inbox, brands and businesses can simply ask recipients for more information to help tailor communications. This opportunity is particularly useful for gathering further demographic data and product preferences.
Polls, surveys, and quizzes
Polls, surveys, and quizzes are the perfect way to gamify the sharing of information. They enable brands and businesses to ask specific questions to enhance their data insights, including feedback and opinions to inform strategy.
Preference centres offer a simple way for consumers to keep their data up to date, including contact details, demographic information, and contact preferences. But brands and businesses can get creative with their preference centre and include more in-depth questions, such as clothing size and range preferences.
It’s not just digital channels that offer zero party data capture opportunities. Brands with bricks and mortar stores can also ask for details such as email addresses at the point of purchase. As well as capturing data, this means the brand can also send a digital receipt to the recipient. Making their lives easier.
At this stage, you’ve begun to collect a wealth of zero party data, congratulations!
Before you can begin using the data to send out highly targeted, personalised campaigns, you need to ensure it is integrated correctly. This is a process that should be practised properly from the start, to avoid any data siloes, duplication, or discrepancies in the future.
You will want to integrate this data into your automation system and/or marketing platform, from which you send out email campaigns, SMS messages, and potentially even personalise your landing pages.
If you do not have a system that does all of the above, then we can offer impartial advice from experts who can help you identify an automation platform that will work for you and your business.
Utilising zero party data
Once you have completed this step, you can start to get really creative with your campaigns. Here are some of our favourite suggestions.
One of the most integral pieces of zero party data that you can gather is an email address. Once this information has been handed over to you, you can begin a stream of engaging, relevant communications to the individual.
Start out with a welcome campaign. These emails should introduce your brand or business to the recipient, provide them with key information such as contact details and social channels, and set expectations of future communications.
Information such as demographic data and purchase preferences are ideal for sending segmented email campaigns. These campaigns offer brands a way to personalise email communications with just basic data, such as gender, location, industry, or purchase preferences.
For instance, a B2B brand can segment their audience based on industry, and send out separate campaigns to each group with language, imagery, and features tailored to the specific needs of each industry.
Product preference data naturally lends itself to sending product recommendations. Instead of sending out one-size-fits-all promotions, marketers can segment their emails based on the types of products recipients have reported they are interested in.
This could also be based on other types of data, such as gender, age and location. Although be mindful that a level of assumption needs to be made by the marketer with this information.
Last but not least, birthday celebrations are simple but effective communications that (unsurprisingly) only need a birth date to be sent.
Birthday emails can range from a simple “Happy Birthday!” through to offering a discount code or voucher to help the recipient celebrate their special day.