Back to Posts

The Future is First-party: Make the Most of Your Customer Data

Written By Amber Breeden

May 6, 2021

In a previous post, we covered the difference between first- and third-party cookies and how new consumer privacy laws are changing how we use data for marketing. Today, we’re going to focus on first-party data and talk about the opportunities it presents in a world without third-party cookies.

First, a refresher on what qualifies as first-party data. First-party data is information you get on your customers’ behavior that goes directly to you. This includes the first-party cookies your website creates when a customer visits the site, information provided during a phone call with a customer service rep, purchase history, and more. It’s likely you have much more data than you realize and you just need help figuring out how best to use it. We’ll get to that in just a bit. But if you’re looking to build your database of information, you will first need to collect that first-party data. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to do that, including:

  • Create valuable content (webinar, templates, a special offer, etc.) in exchange for information. The key word here is valuable—it must be something your customers actually need or want.
  • Add a newsletter sign-up to your website.
  • Use a website visitor tracking tool like Crazy Egg, VWO Insights or Mixpanel.
  • Put a button in your emails to “Share with a friend.”
  • Send out customer surveys with targeted questions to fill knowledge gaps.
  • Collect an email address at the point of purchase.
  • Add custom questions to contact or lead gen forms.
  • Have your customer service reps gather information on calls and enter it into your CRM (create standards for data entry to ensure accuracy).
  • Allow your customers to log in using persistent IDs (i.e., logging in through their Google or social media accounts).

Now that you have all of this first-party data, what do you do with it? The first thing you need to do is make sure you can access the data you’ve collected and connect it to your marketing activities. For most of us, that means getting it into our CRM or database. Each data point you have presents an opportunity to segment your data and provide a relevant and valuable experience for your customers, but that’s only possible if you store that data in a central location and connect it to your marketing systems.

For example, if you connect a data feed from your CRM to your email service provider, you can feed email analytics (like opens and clicks) back to an individual’s profile. This tells you if they’re engaged with your content and what topics resonate with them most (based on their activity), so you can tailor your future messaging and offers.

Here are a few other ways you can best use your first-party data:

  • Go back to basics with contextual advertising. This is where ad placement is based on the content of the site running the ad rather than the customer’s online behavior. Once you know topics that interest your customers, you can target that content online.
  • Gain audience insights to inform the customer experience. The more you know about the customer journey and what touchpoints inspire action, the more you can improve your ROI. These insights can also help you identify patterns and trends across customer groups.
  • Try targeted direct mail. Use online data to inform your offline campaigns (like in the example above where you might use a person’s email activity to send them a mail piece promoting a specific service).
  • Create a personalized experience. Because you have visibility across devices and channels, you know when a customer reaches out for information or converts. Use these actions to deliver the right message at the right time in that customer’s journey.
  • Build your audience with a lookalike campaign. Analyze your first-party data to create a profile of your top customers—based on demographics, industry, service lines, behaviors, etc.—and then use that data to target others who also fit that profile.

If you are not already taking advantage of your own data, now is the time to start. Collect information from a variety of sources and implement standards for data entry, hygiene, and maintenance. When you connect your data to your marketing strategy, you can communicate with your customers in a way that’s relevant, personalized and effective. Need help getting started? Give us a call.