Zero-party data is becoming more and more important for businesses as they navigate data laws while trying to deliver hyper-personalized experiences to their customers.
The term, according to Forrester who are recognized as having coined the term, refers to, “data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand.” It can include data from a preference center, survey or poll responses, and forms that appear on your owned properties like your website.
Zero-party data is explicitly defined as data that is provided with the customer’s consent, whereas first-party data includes indirect data from a customer’s website or product activity or engagement with marketing materials.
To put it another way, both first and zero-party data are collected by brands and tracked with customer’s permission. The difference is that zero-party data is shared voluntarily by your customer, making it a more accurate measure of their interests, goals, or product affinity.
Why do businesses need a zero-party data strategy?
Zero-party and first-party data are increasingly important parts of the overall customer data collection strategy. Not only are they more reliable (since zero-party is self-selected by the customer and first-party is directly connected to their activities and behaviors), it is a more controllable and guaranteeable form of data.
Second-party data, the data you acquired through partnerships with publishers or platforms, has become increasingly expensive and difficult to scale. When it comes to third-party data, the challenges businesses face have been well-documented. From GDPR to CCPA, heightened consumer privacy laws have restricted brands from acquiring third-party data in many regions, and Google’s looming plan to kill cookies from Chrome are causing even more uncertainty for marketers. Other major players like Safari, Firefox, and Apple have also made changes that restrict access to third-party data.
At the same time, customers have come to expect and demand a hyper-personalized experience, one that can only be delivered at scale by leveraging customer data. Businesses that are able to effectively implement a customer data collection strategy that includes zero- and first-party data will guarantee their ability to deliver this experience.
While these two changing needs are driving the sharp increase in interest around zero-party data, there are a range of other benefits including:
More accurate buyer fit scoring for leads
Better understanding of your customer’s needs, goals, and pain points
Ability to gather and act on customer feedback
Improve email deliverability by getting clear customer consent
Increase brand trust as data used for personalization is directly provided by the customer
How to get more zero-party data
The sooner you prioritize zero-party data, the sooner your business can benefit. These three steps will help you generate data you can leverage for growth.
1. Prioritize your data needs
It’s likely your business is already generating some zero-party data through demo booking or inquiry forms on your website, along with a wealth of first-party data from website and product activity, email engagement, purchase information and customer support interactions. Start by looking at the data you’re already collecting to identify gaps and avoid duplication or contradictory data sources.
Once you have identified these gaps, start to prioritize the data points that will be most beneficial to your company’s growth. For example, if you don’t currently have a communications preference center and you are seeing a decline in email deliverability or overall engagement with your email and SMS communications, this should be a top priority. If you are planning to launch a new product, feature, or offering, you may need to gather data on your existing customer’s interest to gauge demand, make accurate growth predictions, and generate an audience list to retarget.
2. Create an experience
There are many ways companies can collect zero-party data including surveys or quizzes, forms, polls, or preference centers. Take a look at your top priorities and weigh up the best method for data collection. For example, if you are looking for data points that will help you personalize a customer’s experience with your brand, a survey or quiz will be more beneficial than a simple poll. If you are looking to gauge customer interest in a particular feature or offering, an in-app poll may do the trick.
Once you have ironed this out, consider the best channels for data collection and how you can turn it into a positive experience for your customer. This may include in-app or website pop-ups and messages, dedicated landing pages, emails including links to surveys, SMS, push notifications, or embeddable forms.
Finally, ensure you have identified how the data you collect will be unified with your customer’s profile to give your teams one source of truth. If you’re an Ortto customer, data collected through pop-ups and in-app messages will be automatically connected to your customer’s profile in the CDP and you can easily integrate Typeform with your Ortto account to track form submissions in your CDP.
The importance of this step can’t be overstated — zero-party data is only effective when it is connected to your customer’s profile and can be leveraged in your marketing materials and used in reports and dashboards. That’s the beauty of a consolidated marketing automation, CDP and reporting tool like Ortto.
3. Entice your customers to hand over their data
Ask yourself why a visitor, user, or customer should hand over the data you’re asking for, and ensure that the benefit is clearly communicated.
Remember the effort should be equal to the reward. If a survey is particularly long or asks a range of personal questions, you will need to reward your customers with something more valuable like a discount or free offering (ebook, whitepaper, or other downloadable). In cases where you are asking existing users one simple question, the promise of more personalized communications may be enough to entice them to hand over that data, especially in cases where product recommendations can be personalized.
From there, all the normal rules of marketing apply. Whether it’s a pop-up, an email, an SMS, or a simple poll, ensure your message is clear, on-brand, and well-designed.
How to leverage zero-party data for growth
As mentioned, you will need to ensure that all zero-party data you collect is connected to the customer profile and accessible within your marketing automation platform. Since Ortto brings customer data, marketing automation, and reporting together in one platform and allows for simple, no- or low-code integrations, this process is simple. Features like unique customer identifiers and identity resolution will also help to ensure that your customer profiles are complete and your marketing and sales teams can get a complete picture of the customer, and act on it.
In Ortto, any data point in your CDP can be used to trigger emails, SMS, or capture widgets, enabling you to leverage your zero-party data to personalize communications and grow your business.
Once that’s done, there are plenty of ways you can leverage your zero-party data to grow your business.
Send product recommendations before a purchase is made using dynamic content fields based on preferences
Share relevant content based on customer goals or pain points in email nurture journeys
Deliver fully-personalized website experiences based on preferences
Create audience cohorts based on preferences or goals to assess CLV, LTV, loyalty, or propensity to churn
Personalize SMS, pop-ups, and emails using merge tags
Whether using data as a filter for audiences, a trigger for emails, or in merge tags and dynamic content fields to personalize communications, zero-party data will help your business thrive in a privacy-first world and get a better understanding of your customers, their preferences, and their journey.