First-Party Data Collection for Small Businesses
It’s easy to view data as one more thing to add to your plate or an obstacle. For small businesses, it can seem like an insurmountable task. But first-party data collection and utilization is no longer a nice to have, it’s a necessity to effectively compete online. Customers are met with 5000 marketing messages a day, to stand out you need to truly know your customers. Data provides you with the knowledge you need to personalize your message to your customers.
How do you get the data? There are three ways to collect customer data, and a solid data strategy should have all three:
Directly asking your customers:
You can do this by asking customers for information on your website. This can include form fills, interactive quizzes, chatbots, and surveys. The key here is to start small and then progressively ask for more information as the customer interacts with your website. Examples of this would be having an online quiz and then asking for a customer’s email address at the end of the quiz. Or asking for an email address and then asking for the other information you need after they submit their email address.
Doe Lashes has a perfect example of this with their lash quiz powered by Octane AI. Customers complete a short quiz and then the website asks for your email address to send the results to, as well as a coupon for the lashes. The value exchange here is high. They are showing customers what lashes will look best based on their eye shape, as well as providing a discount to try them out. The curiosity is enough to get them to enter their email address.
If you provide upfront value, customers are more likely to give you their information.
Indirectly tracking customers:
Websites and cookies are a significant data source for businesses. You can track clicks, page views, actions taken. First-party cookies are used to track what visitors do on your site and remember them the next time they visit. Third-party cookies, which are currently being phased out, have allowed you to track website visitors after they leave your website. In light of the third-party phase-out software solutions, like RAEK, are popping up that identify the person visiting your site giving you the ability to continue to marketing to more people, through email, text and advertising after they leave your website.
You are likely familiar with tracking and retargeting customers with the Facebook pixel and advertising, but the key here is that you are not getting the customer data. Facebook is merely giving you access to groups of customers that meet a specified data profile. You don’t actually own the data and have no access to the individual customer. With the increasing competition in online advertising, it takes more than ads to close customers. You need a way to capture the customer data from the traffic you’re driving to your site.
Supplement your data with data from another source:
There are a few ways to do this. The first is to buy customer data from a third party source. But in most cases, the farther away the data supplier is from the actual source, the lower the quality. You can supplement your data with high quality data from another source that works directly with the customer. I.e. a business that is in the same space as you, with the same quality of products that you sell, but is not a direct competitor.
An example of this would be to team up for a giveaway or special promotion. You each get access to the other’s audiences. This builds brand awareness but also gives you the opportunity to grab the contact information of a significant group of people in your target market, you can continue to market to them after the promotion ends. Gleam.io has a great guide on how to successfully run a partner campaign.
Customer data will help you improve almost every area of your business if you know how to organize it and utilize it. You can collect data with the above software solutions, and they are all priced under $100 a month, making big data strategies within reach for small to midsize businesses.
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