Zero-party data is information that people willingly and continually share with businesses. The different types of zero-party data that customers provide may include contact details, other personal data, preferences, opinions, and other critical information.
Forrester Research coined the term and definition for zero-party data, establishing it as something separate from first-party and other customer data types. People can collect this information through on-site contact forms, surveys, registration forms, and other methods.
Brands can collect all kinds of zero-party data from audiences based on their needs.
For example, a clothing brand may want to know different aspects of each customer. This information may include the person's name, contact info, gender, favorite places to shop, favorite style of clothing, and more. Users voluntarily provide all of this information through various contact points when interacting with your brand.
Based on the information this particular clothing brand gathers, it would be possible to then use this data to make personalized product recommendations. This data could also create an entirely personalized online shopping experience based on the customer's preferences. In turn, customers would feel valued and heard while remaining confident in knowing that the brand isn't gathering data about them without their knowledge.
Zero-party data is crucial today for several reasons. These include:
One key reason for the growing popularity of zero-party data is the increased emphasis on user privacy across the web.
In recent years, Google has announced that it's planning on getting rid of third-party cookies, which collect sensitive user data for brands as they track users across multiple websites and applications. Businesses have relied on third-party cookies to gather user data for many years, as it enables them to learn about user behaviors and browsing habits. This data can help develop improved and more personalized experiences that customers enjoy. However, these cookies often compromise users' privacy in the process.
Although Google has delayed the removal of cookies multiple times, it will inevitably happen. This inevitability makes it necessary for brands to find other means of collecting valuable user data. One of the best replacements is zero-party data, which is transparent while still enabling brands to get the information they need to optimize the customer experience.
Another benefit of zero-party data is that it makes people feel as though you're actually listening to them. People want personalized experiences, but they want to be able to choose whether to provide the information to create them.
By asking users for zero-party data, you're making it clear that you care about providing people with unique and optimized experiences. At the same time, you're indicating that you value their privacy. As a result, your customers will be more likely to trust you if they know that you're not "stealing" their information.
To better understand zero-party data, it's important to look at the other types of customer data out there. The three main customer data types preceding zero-party data include the following:
This is data that brands collect through their own direct sources and channels. For instance, first-party data could come from websites, mobile applications, email campaigns, text messages, and other channels. In this way, first-party data is similar to zero-party data, but the main difference is that while zero-party data is always voluntary, first-party data isn't necessarily so.
The types of channels used to collect first-party data make this data truly yours to use. This data is subsequently more dependable because you can trust that other parties haven't potentially tainted it.
While first-party data can be helpful, it also requires ample time and effort to gather, which can make it far more inconvenient than third-party cookies.
If you obtain first-party data from a partner brand, this is what's known as second-party data. The partners you obtain this data from should provide value with this data, which will ultimately help complement your first-party data.
The core benefit of second-party data is the ability to get even more information about your users and customers. You'll be able to learn more aspects about your audience that you might otherwise miss if you stick to first-party data alone.
As the most controversial of the data types, third-party data is also highly valuable to brands. This is data that multiple platforms have collected, with a third party selling it on a data exchange platform or via another method.
One of the reasons this data is so valuable is its quantity. Unlike first- and second-party data, third-party data tends to provide brands with huge amounts of information that gives a real insight into all audiences. On the other hand, the data may suffer from certain inaccuracies if there's a compromise in data quality.
The big downside with third-party data is that you wouldn't actually own this data, unlike zero- and first-party data. You would need to ensure the source for this data is acting in good faith and provides you with accurate information.
With the detachment from third-party cookies, a combination of zero- and first-party data will be integral replacements. Many people use these concepts interchangeably, but the fact is that there are specific differences between them.
The main difference has to do with how they collect data—first-party data refers to the information that platforms collect directly based on user behavior and other metrics, while zero-party data involves requesting information from users who have to agree to provide it.
You can collect first-party data from a variety of channels, including:
Using tools like Google Analytics and others, you'll have the ability to collect plenty of data regarding user behavior and activity.
When collecting zero-party data, you'll need to ask users to submit it through certain types of interactions. The best way to go about this and get the information you want is to ask for details in exchange for something useful to the user. For instance, you might request information about users and provide them with an informative eBook or another content piece in return. This data can be just as if not even more valuable than first-party data.
Depending on your specific goals and needs, zero- or first-party data might be more valuable. In many cases, both will be equally vital.
In addition to the advantages discussed, zero-party data comes with certain advantages when it comes to the user experience. For example, zero-party data can improve:
By conducting surveys and interacting with users in other creative ways, you'll not only be able to collect critical data, but you'll also boost engagement. Interacting with users alone keeps them engaged, but using zero-party data to create a personalized experience for each user will keep them coming back. Whether you're optimizing the user experience on an app, website, or another platform, users will want to connect with your brand. This will particularly be the case if they feel they can trust you over competitors with their information.
In addition to engaging users, the use of zero-party data can also increase retention. People who come to expect a personalized experience that meets their needs whenever they use your platform will continue to return. They'll begin to feel like they're more connected to your brand than other competitors offering less personalization. They may also want to stick with you because they know they can trust you with their data.
Ultimately, you'll be able to use zero-party data with other data types to continually improve the user experience, which will increase conversions and sales. You'll then see an increased ROI from your marketing and other efforts as you use critical data and insights to deliver a consistently superior experience.
If you want to get started collecting zero-party data to help your business, there are plenty of methods to request this information. Some of the many tools you can use include:
One way to gather critical zero-party data is to ask users for relevant information during the account registration process. When users first register an account on your app or website, you can ask for some introductory details such as their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Additional information may include age, gender, how the person heard about your brand and other pertinent information that can craft a personalized user experience.
For instance, if you're a brand in the wellness industry and sell health products, you may ask users certain questions about their health and routine. You may ask about their medical history, previous attempts at getting healthy, and more.
A fast quiz could also engage your customers while obtaining key data. This quiz might ask about user preferences and what each person might want to find. You may include questions that ask about specific brands that the person already uses, which can give you a better idea of the style, quality, or features they like. You may also request information about individual features that form the ideal product in people's minds.
At the end of the quiz, you can offer a reward. For example, you might offer a discount code for completing the quiz, which will bring real value and encourage users to participate in future quizzes.
Zero-party data can also come in the form of reviews. You can use pop-ups or emails to ask people to review your brand or a specific offering they purchased. You may ask about specific things they liked about a product or experience along with some areas the users think could benefit from improvement. This information will help you determine how to continue optimizing and perfecting the user experience.
Surveys, like quizzes, are a great way to quickly gather information in exchange for a reward. You can ask people to submit surveys on social media or your website, for instance. Users would answer some key questions about an offering or experience, rate it on a specific scale, and indicate what they did or didn't like. You can then reward these users with a discount or another reward such as free shipping on their next order.
When getting people into new products, you can start by gathering information from users about what they want to see from them. During the onboarding process, new users might select a specific product category, at which point you can present a series of screens to help them find what they're looking for from the start. Ask about certain features they want and other elements that can ensure you lead them to the right recommendation. In the process, you can narrow down selections and make it easier than ever for users to enjoy the precise experience they want.
Email offers another great way to gather useful zero-party data. For example, you might ask people about certain topics that people want to see in your emails, which would ensure recipients only see emails from you that interest and engage them. Additionally, you might send occasional surveys that ask what people think of your brand, products, or services. This data could supplement similar data coming from other touchpoints in your marketing strategy.
By taking the right approach to collecting zero-party data, you can learn everything there is to know about your audiences to help your business. You'll also be able to win more users over, retain them, and boost loyalty as you earn their trust. As you adapt to a cookie-less world with zero-party data, you'll be able to maintain a competitive edge and thrive.
To find out what Storyly's personalized Stories can do to help you collect critical data, sign up for our platform for free or reach out to us today.