The advertising industry largely relies on third-party consumer data. Obtaining information about potential customers from third-party providers allows companies to reach beyond their existing audiences and grow. And expanded insights about consumer preferences and behaviors enable advertisers to fine-tune their ad campaigns.
But between the crackdown on third-party cookies by Google, the depreciation of the popular identifier for advertisers (IDFA), and the slew of privacy policies hitting state-level legislatures (not to mention international-level ones, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation), the ad industry can no longer solely rely on third-party data to inform its long-term marketing strategy.
As a result, first-party data has emerged as a critical asset to companies big and small. Not only does it offer powerful insights, but first-party data is also completely free and tends to be more accurate than data provided by third parties, given it’s information consumers give brands directly.
Here are three steps companies can take to get ahead of the curve and start gathering and leveraging their first-party data.
3 Steps for Gathering and Leveraging First-Party Data
- Register your customers. Make sure the process is appealing and as effortless as possible.
- Invest in a customer data platform so you can compile the information into a centralized place to get better insights.
- Create additional ways to build out customer profiles (like content creation, games, and loyalty programs).
1. Register Your Customers
To start implementing your first-party data strategy, you’ll first need to link the information you gather to the consumer. This is most easily done by asking those who visit your company’s website to register their email address.
Email registration often comes in the form of a pop-up message to web visitors offering them to create a personal account on the website. However, there are also many other creative ways to interest consumers in sharing their information. You can try newsletter sign-ups, case study downloads, web buttons to share posts, or others, depending on what fits best with your business.
Consider what strategy would appeal to your customers and ensure this process is as smooth and effortless as possible. Do not ask for too much information during the initial registration, as it may make the process too cumbersome and lead to lower engagement.
2. Invest in a Customer Data Platform
Many companies struggle to maximize the capabilities of their first-party data because that information can be disorganized and disjointed. Brands regularly obtain information about consumers from a variety of sources, such as website activity, mobile apps, social media, surveys, emails, messages, transactions, trouble tickets — the list can go on and on. But because this valuable data is usually gathered and used by different departments within the company, it often remains fragmented and not integrated in one centralized place.
A customer data platform (CDP) can take all this information and compile it into an organized, centralized system so you can assemble comprehensive profiles of your ideal customers. As you gather this information over time, your customer profiles will grow and produce more detailed and useful insights.
With a CDP, you are harnessing the full potential of all the data at your company’s disposal, including transactional and order data, behavioral web and mobile data, as well as demographic data. All this information can then be seamlessly integrated with your marketing software to optimize your campaigns based on the unique characteristics of your brand’s audience.
3. Create Additional Ways to Build Out Customer Profiles
Your first-party data strategy should be informed by your goals — be it daily customer outreach, an anticipated product release, or the next ad campaign launch. Ask yourself: What consumer information will make your campaign more effective? Then focus on addressing the gaps in information that need to be filled most urgently.
The most common way for companies to obtain this data is through polls and surveys. After all, the easiest way to understand your customers’ needs and interests is to ask them directly.
This can be done via email, social media, and the company website. However, considering that today’s consumers are already bombarded with an ever-increasing amount of survey requests, it’s important to make this process interesting and to highlight how it will benefit them. Another strategy is to only ask one question per survey. This way, your customers won’t feel like their time is being depleted.
If you’d like to explore some of the more creative ways to gather additional information about your audience, consider these:
- Content Creation: Not only does different content offer new reasons for consumers to visit your site, but blogs and posts also provide key insights into what your visitors may be interested in as they navigate through different topics.
- Games: A puzzle, challenge, or quiz could be a great way to collect additional information about your customers while simultaneously entertaining them.
- Loyalty Programs: Offering opportunities to enroll in a loyalty program allows you to gather additional information about your customers while also providing them with something of value in the form of additional discounts and promos. Such programs encourage more engagement with your brand and incentivize customers to share their data.
- AI Web Assistants: Having a virtual customer service line on your website can both help your customers resolve issues and also enable you to keep track of their wants, needs, and concerns.
As third-party data limitations continue to disrupt the advertising industry, companies will need to rethink their approach to communicating with their audiences. No brand will evade this disruption completely unscathed. Those who invest in developing an effective first-party data strategy and implement the right tools to leverage it, however, will be better positioned to preserve and grow their customer relationships in a more privacy-focused future.