What is First-Party Data, and How Can You Use It to Drive Revenue?

Jessica is a Google Analytics certified Digital Video Analyst at WebFX. She has created over 100 videos for the WebFX YouTube channel (youtube.com/webfx) in the last two years. Jessica specializes in video marketing and also loves content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and many other aspects of digital marketing. When she's not creating videos, Jessica enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, and watching movies.

In this video, Dan from the WebFX Marketing team explains the basics of first-party data. What is first-party data and how can it drive revenue for your business? Check out the video below or keep reading to find out!

Transcript: 

Say goodbye to third-party cookies. It’s first-party data time!

The Internet is more privacy-conscious than ever. Some of the biggest tech companies have made the move to ban third-party cookies, which track people’s activity across the web. These cookies provided detailed customer information to advertising platforms, and allowed businesses to create ultra-targeted campaigns.

You may be wondering how your ad campaigns (and the rest of your marketing) will succeed without this data. Let me introduce you to the solution: first-party data.

What is first-party data, and how can you take advantage of it for your marketing strategy?

In this video, I’ll cover the basics of first-party data, how to gather it from your customers, and why it should matter to your business. I’ll also go over a few other types of data traditionally used by marketers to reach their ideal audiences.

Let’s get this first-party started.

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What is first-party data?

First-party data is information about your audience collected by your business. You don’t purchase or use insights from another business. Instead, customers directly provide you with their information.

First-party data may be anything from customer emails to a record of different actions someone takes on your website, like purchases or content downloads.

You don’t need to manually track every interaction from your customers, though. Great tools exist to help you manage your first-party data.

The tools I’m talking about are a customer relationship management (CRM) system and a customer data platform (CDP). Both of these technologies gather first-party data that helps you gauge where your potential customers are in the sales pipeline and how you can best interact with them to make a sale.

CRM software offers you a way to track interactions between your team and your customers. It’s a central location for remembering customer interactions like sales calls, deals won, and contact information. A CRM makes a huge difference for your sales team.

A CDP helps you track the interactions a customer takes after they discover your business. This gathers information like website behavior and user demographics to help you understand more about your audience. A CDP can help make your marketing strategy more personalized and effective.

You might be wondering how you end up with customer insights in the first place.  I’ll get there in just a bit. Before we cover how to gather data, I want to explain a few more things.

The difference between first-, second-, and third-party data

As I explained, you are responsible for gathering first-party data. Customers give it to you because of your marketing efforts.

Second-party data is basically another business’s first-party data that you use, typically by partnering with that business. Say you own a nail salon, and you have a good relationship with your nail polish supplier. The nail polish supplier has a list of loyal email newsletter subscribers, which is first-party data to them. You use this list to promote your services to those subscribers. In using the supplier’s first-party data, you have added second-party data to your marketing strategy.

Third-party data operates in a similar way, except you’re likely not purchasing it from a partner business. It comes from third-parties that collect data, known often as data brokers.  Both second- and third-party data may have been gathered from people who haven’t ever interacted with your business, so they might not take kindly to your marketing efforts.

An additional type of data I want to mention is zero-party data. Think of this as information your visitors and customers explicitly tell you in order t o personalize their own customer experience. Say, for example, you have a drop-down form on your website that asks people why they’re visiting. When they select an answer, your website adjusts and provides an experience that aligns with their interests.

Pretty slick, right?

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Benefits of first-party data

Earlier, I hinted at one of the biggest benefits of first-party data.

1. Reach consumers who expect to hear from your business

It might be easy to tap into third-party data, but what you save in time and effort you pay for in a lack of marketing effectiveness, especially as these capabilities start to disappear.

Again, first-party data is collected from your own website visitors, email subscribers, and current customers. They have chosen to make a purchase, contact you, or take another action with your business. Your marketing messages are likely to be welcomed, not ignored—especially if it is useful to them in their journey to make a purchase.

In fact, research shows that brands who use first-party data in their campaigns see improvement in their conversions, brand awareness, and other business metrics.

2. Tailor brand experiences to your customers

More than 60% of consumers expect businesses to use personalization.

In addition, one study revealed that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company if they experience personalization.

Using your customer data, you can craft ultra-targeted ads based on different interactions with your business. You can send extremely relevant emails to people who fit your ideal customer profile. You may even upload a list of contacts to target with Google Ads Customer Match.

First-party data can lead to more successful, personalized campaigns for your business.

3. Increase your marketing ROI

Targeting people who have shown significant interest in your business means you don’t have to waste money (or time) on irrelevant, low-quality leads.

You can focus your budget on the people who are most likely to convert with the highest customer lifetime value, leading to less wasted spend  and a positive return on your marketing investment.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Yeah, I get it. First-party data is great. How do I collect it?” I’ll share some ideas in this next section.

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How to collect first-party data

I’ll repeat myself. You’re in charge of collecting your first-party data. How you go about it depends on what works best for your business and any privacy regulations you must follow. At the very least, make sure your customers know how you process their information and what you’ll do with it once you have it. In addition, give people a way to opt out if they only want some marketing messages or decide that they want none.

A tried-and-true strategy to collect first-party data is to offer something valuable in exchange for customer information. What can you offer people that makes them want to give you their emails, names, or phone numbers?

Some strategies to gather this data include:

  • Asking people to fill out an email subscription form on your website to receive a helpful newsletter
  • Offering a rewards program in which people share their information to get special deals and benefits when they shop with you
  • Tracking customer information when they make purchases online or in-person
  • Providing a unique piece of content to those who give you their contact information
  • Sharing an information-packed webinar with people who RSVP via email
  • Adding a contact form to your website that asks people for their information

That’s certainly not a complete list, but it’s a great place to start when you’re ready to reap the benefits of first-party data.

Before you go, will you help us gather our own first-party data? Sign up for Revenue Weekly, our email newsletter, to get even more digital marketing insights that will help you take your campaigns to the next level. You can find the link to sign up in the video description.

Thanks for watching!

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