How to Collect First-Party Data and Make It Work
Everyone is talking about first-party customer data as the answer to their loss of tracking woes. And it is the answer. It will help you optimize your marketing budget, increase your ROI, engage customers, and keep customers around for the long haul. You’re convinced it’s the answer, but the — how to collect first-party data — is a little fuzzy. Today we’re covering how to collect first-party data and how to use it.
Why You Need to Collect First-Party Data
Quick recap of the current digital marketing landscape. Right now, there is a massive push for consumer privacy. Apple iOS 14.5 and the phase out of third-party cookies has created an environment where the businesses’ ability to reach their audience online is limited. Shifts like this will always happen, your access to your audience will always be in jeopardy unless you take the steps to future-proof it. You do that by collecting first-party data. It is the only way to truly own the access to your audience and protect it from shifts in the digital landscape.
Best Practices for Collecting First-Party Data
Have a Plan
It can be tempting to start collecting first-party data and figure out what to do with it later. But, having too much data is as big of a problem as having too little data. Excess data becomes chaos and can leave you in a worse position than you were when you started.
To avoid collecting data you don’t need, set a goal and work backward. Figure out what data you need to achieve that goal and then only collect first-party data you need. Data decays quickly, so don’t collect data you won’t use right away. Fresh first-party data is always best.
Customers are wary of companies possessing too much of their data, which is why there is a big privacy push right now. However, they are willing to give up a bit of privacy if it results in a better customer experience. Be transparent about the data you are collecting and what it will be used for. Your website’s cookie pop up should tell visitors what data is being collected, it’s purpose, and give them a way to opt out. Most consumers do not opt out. People appreciate the value personal data adds to their online experience.
Organize Your First-Party Data
Unorganized data has the same problem as too much data – chaos. For you to take advantage of the data you collect, it needs to be organized. Luckily, most first-party data software not only allows you to collect first-party data but organizes it automatically, so you can utilize it right away.
How to Collect First-Party Data
You already have a ton of first-party data. You only need to collect it. Every time a customer interacts with your website, social media channels, and email or other marketing message, they leave behind data. Data you can use to create personalized experiences, leading to a higher ROI on your marketing spend.
The most popular place businesses collect first-party data are:
Collecting first-party data with forms:
Any form on your website, whether it be an email subscription form or contact form, collects first-party data. Forms collect some of the highest valued first-party data because website visitors are usually entering an email address. Email addresses are key customer identifiers and can be used to reach people in their inbox as well as through AD networks such as Google and social media platforms.
Collecting first-party data with quizzes:
Shopping quizzes on your website have the advantage of collecting contact information while also pointing your customer towards products that are the best match for their needs. They also convert like crazy. Quizzes collect contact information which can be used for retargeting as well as customer preferences, so you can truly know your customers.
Collecting first-party data from surveys:
Surveys are similar to quizzes, but focus on one specific question or two about the customer experience. This is valuable data you can use to increase conversations on your website.
Your Email Service Provider (ESP):
Your ESP contains massive quantities of data including the headlines that entice people to open your emails, the copy and images that convert people to buyers, and which customers show high intent through engagement.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
Your CRM also contains customer data and can include preferences, sales calls, customer service inquiries and resolutions, as well as in-store data for those with physical locations.
Collecting first-party data through social media:
Social media engagement is also a form of customer data and can be useful for showing you which customers are the most engaged and what content performs the best for both engagement and conversions.
Collecting first-party data through your website:
Every click, page view, search, form fill, add to cart, and purchase is first-party data. This is the type of data that can quickly get out of hand. Most businesses use a first-party data software to collect the most valuable data.
Using software to collect first-party data:
There are many types of first-party data software. Some are designed for enterprise level companies and require developers to set them up, at the other end of the spectrum is software like RAEK which set up in 5 minutes and collects and organizes all your form fills and data directly imputed by the customer anywhere on your website in one place, so it can be easily utilized. This is best for small businesses and small marketing teams, so they can easily utilize their first-party data in their marketing channels. Some first party data software, including RAEK, can identify anonymous visitors, so you can remarket to them as well.
How Do You Use First-Party Data to Improve Your Marketing?
This is a big question with many answers, so we’re going to start with the most common use cases.
Retargeting (Advertising and Email Marketing)
iOS 14.5 made retargeting more difficult than ever, essentially cutting the link between the advertiser and the customer. As a result, custom audience sizes have shrunk considerably. Most businesses start looking into first-party data as a solution to this problem. First-party data, if organized correctly, can be easily input into advertising platforms to retarget website visitors. You are also able to retarget visitors with email marketing, which is often a more cost-effective way to retarget customers.
Build Custom Audiences
As stated above, custom audiences in ad platforms have taken a hit with the recent changes to the digital marketing landscape. As a solution, AD networks have instructed advertisers to use broader targeting and let their ad creative do the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the budgets for broad targeting. Using first-party data, you can continue to build highly targeted audiences of customers and people similar to your customers.
Personalized Customer Experiences
Personalization is no longer optional, as most consumers expect it, or they quickly move on. They know the technology is available, and they want you to make it personal. With first-party data, you can segment your audience (start simple and work towards advanced) and provide personal experiences to your customers. It’s easier than you think. Start segmenting by customer groups and send different email marketing messages to each group. As you grow, you can segment behaviorally.
With real time first-party data, you can trigger emails to website visitors based on behavior. Visitor looked around and then bounced? – Send them an email. Added to cart and left before purchasing? – send them an email. Searched for an item and then closed the tab? – Send them an email. Email can be triggered by behavior and time.
Best Practices for Using First-Party Data
Use Fresh Data
Fresh data is always best. Customers move on quickly, so you always want to use your most recent data to direct your marketing strategy.
Don’t Be Creepy
Much of the push for privacy has come from marketers using people’s data in a way that creeps them out. How do you know that? Why are these ads following me around the internet? Etc. We’ve all been creeped out by an ad at least once. We wrote an article about how to keep your marketing out of the creepiness ditch. Read it, apply it, and don’t creep your customers out.
Start Small Before You Scale
There are many use cases for data. And while it can be tempting to do it all at once, it rarely works out well when you take that approach. Start with a single uses case. Test it, tweak it, and then scale. Then move on to another use case.
Wrapping it Up
First-party data will help you optimize your marketing budget because you’ll be speaking to the right person, at the right time, leading to higher conversion rates.
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