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Your First-Party Data Strategy: Don’t Fear, First-Party Data has Always Been Here.

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Author: David Campanella

September 7, 2021

You may have seen a lot about the changes coming to third-party data, as Google and Apple begin to “prioritize user privacy,” while simultaneously building walled gardens to monopolize their user data. (Forgive me, my cynicism is showing.) Luckily if you follow our blog you’ve stayed abreast of the changes as they are announced.  

If you are worried about losing your third-party pixels, things will be ok. There are far better, more valuable, and accessible data every company has access to in first-party data. The problem is most companies don’t have a strong first-party data collection strategy. Third-party data has been leveraged as an easy turnkey crutch (install this JavaScript pixel) for marketing segmentation and optimization for far too long. A new, more secure solution will be developed in the future, but first-party data is readily available if you understand how to collect, use, and execute on it.  

What is first-party data? 

First-party data is any data directly collected between you and your consumer. Think of it like going to your favorite butcher. I walk up to the counter and the butcher asks me my name and takes my order. Over time my butcher recognizes me, greets me by name, and knows my preferences. This can lead to a highly personalized experience and is an excellent example of first-party data.  

What is third-party data? 

Third-party data is if the butcher hired a cohort of private investigators (PIs) to follow me around doing my weekend errands, see what stores I visit, and what actions I take in different segments of my life. When I walk into the store, not only is the butcher giving some information to these PIs, but he is also being handed a portfolio of information covering what the PIs think I might like. Then, based on the quality of the PIs, I might get a good experience, I might not. Luckily the butcher doesn’t have to do much work, but it’s kind of creepy and I’d prefer to go to the first-party butcher.  

Creating a first-party data strategy 

If you want a robust first-party data plan, we recommend following these four steps: strategize, collect, store, and action. These four practices will lead you down the path to success when it comes to first-party data.  

1. First, strategize. We recommend reviewing your current data sources and creating a data map. You should have a good understanding of what and how your data is flowing. You will want to specifically focus on the origin of your data. Is it first party or third party? Where is it stored? You will then want to identify gaps in your current data architecture and understand which parts of your data will be affected by the cookie change. Is there anything you wish you knew about your customer that you don’t currently?  

2. Once you know what you want to collect you need to identify how you are going to collect the information. The first resource for first-party data resides in your Order Management System (OMS). When a user transacts with you, they are first and foremost volunteering their money in exchange for goods or services. They are also forfeiting information about who they are. For example, if I need to ship something to you, I need to know where you live and your first and last name. This is all first-party data that can be leveraged in Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and made actionable down the road. 

Surprisingly people don’t mind being known and they love personalized experiences. In 2017 Econsultancy found that 92% of companies saw an increase in conversion rates after personalizing. The key is your consumer needs to see value in the data they are offering. They don’t want to provide information when they aren’t getting anything out of the experience. For example, many people will be happy for Amazon to track their cookies so that they can be offered product recommendations based on what they’ve been searching for. Customers are accustomed to creating accounts for sites they use frequently and are willing to provide additional data about themselves in return for rewards, or a better shopping experience. A couple of examples may include a user filling out a short survey for additional reward points or providing their birthday to get a gift.  

3. After you have collected the data you need a place to store it. Most companies will have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, database, or a trendier Customer Data Platform (CDP). No matter where you house your data, it must be scalable, accessible, flexible, and secure. Lots of companies can support you in housing data, but security needs to be at the top of your attention. Organizations have a responsibility to customers to keep their information secure and use it effectively and in non-invasive ways. If you fail to keep customer data safe, you will lose trust, as customers no longer want to voluntarily offer valuable first-party information.  

 4. The final portion is action. All the work you put in the strategy portion should come to life, as you have a plan for each piece of data you are collecting. Never collect data “just in case,” it should always have a purpose. For example, if you are collecting your customer’s birthday, use that information to help segment out your best customers and their age groups to help identify primary target audiences in your marketing spend. Leverage your data to support your customer personas and profiles, and when applicable use it to create a unique personalized experience for your customer.  

 

As we navigate the unstable waters of third-party data, focusing on a first-party data strategy can help you maintain unique personalized experiences for your customers, as well as highly segmented and targeted marketing interactions that lead to conversion and better experiences.  

As always, if you need support LiveArea can help you audit the impact third-party data changes will have on your current data collection strategy and set you on a path to success and happy customers.  Contact us for more information. 

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