As third-party cookies phase out, it's become increasingly important to use a combination of zero-party and first-party data. At the same time, many people confuse the two or consider them the same. What exactly is zero-party data vs first-party data?
In this guide, we'll explore the differences between these two types of data and how you can collect them for use in your marketing efforts. Knowing their differences can help you decide which is right for your business strategy.
What is zero-party data?
Zero-party data is a type of data that people willingly share with businesses. This data could include their personal interests and buyer preferences, contact information, and what they're looking for from a particular brand.
Examples of zero-party data
There are plenty of pieces of zero-party data that people may want to provide your brand, including:
- Email and phone number
- Income level
- Buying habits and other behaviors
- Interests and preferences
- Expectations from your brand
- Feedback about your brand and offerings
Benefits of zero-party data
There are a few main reasons why you might want to collect zero-party data. These include:
Increased customer trust
With growing concerns over privacy and data usage, only 21% of people today trust that brands will keep their information safe and secure. They also distrust brands that personalize experiences based on data they didn't provide. They perceive brands as intrusive when they appear to know too much about them.
Showing that you value your customers
Asking people for certain types of personal data, such as personal preferences and feedback, can show that you truly care about catering to your customers' needs. In turn, they'll be more willing to engage with your brand if they feel like they're genuinely heard.
Personalization is crucial for connecting with customers. It can be difficult to do so without the help of third-party cookies. However, zero-party data will give you some invaluable insights into customer wants and needs, which you can then use to offer a more personalized experience. Combined with first-party data, you can still use personalization as effectively as you would with third-party data.
What is first-party data?
While zero-party data is data that customers readily provide, first-party data is a type of data that businesses collect directly from people through their websites and software. Using first-party cookies stored on your website and other solutions, you can gather all types of meaningful data.
Examples of first-party data
Through your website and various tools, you can collect different types of first-party data, such as:
- Web or mobile app behavior, such as page views and session duration
- Purchase history
- Preferences indicated
- Loyalty status
- Interactions with customer service reps
Benefits of first-party data
Collecting first-party data will benefit your business in several key ways as you grow your brand. These potential advantages include:
With the first-party data that businesses collect through various means, they can more precisely target their audiences. You'll be able to gather and harness data that's truly yours without relying on third parties to collect it for you. As a result, you'll ensure your marketing efforts remain accurate and relevant. It helps you get the most from your marketing and advertising budget.
Mapping the customer journey
Using first-party data such as attribution data, you can successfully track customers across the entire buyer's journey. You'll see where people first interact with your website or app. From there, you can follow them as they either venture to purchase or drop off. Based on this information, you can identify bottlenecks in the journey and figure out how to carry people from leads to repeat customers.
Track all marketing channels
First-party data also allows you to see how customers engage with each of your marketing channels. You can use various analytical tools for social media sites, email campaigns, and other channels. This is to determine how people landed on your website or app from off-site marketing and ads. You can then segment audiences based on these interactions and market to them accordingly.
Differences between zero-party and first-party data
Zero-party data is willingly provided by consumers, reflecting their preferences, interests and intent, thus directly reflecting customer choices, while first-party data is gathered from user interactions with a brand's websites, apps, or physical stores, providing indirect insights into consumer behavior.
There are several key differences between zero-party and first-party data to consider, including:
- Zero-party data entails direct interaction with customers, while first-party data provides in-depth insights via analytics.
- Customers willingly and knowingly provide zero-party data, while it's possible to acquire first-party data without the customer's knowledge.
- While first-party data is often highly accurate and relevant, zero-party data is even more accurate and relevant.
- You can get zero-party data through surveys, polls, contact forms, and other media. On the other hand, first-party data is extracted from sources such as web activity, subscriptions, and order history.
- You won't need to conduct any analysis to understand zero-party data. However, this is a requirement to contextualize and understand first-party data.
- People still have some privacy concerns around first-party data. However, people give full consent to provide zero-party data to eliminate these concerns.
- Customers own zero-party data, while organizations own first-party data.
How to collect zero-party data
There are plenty of ways to collect zero-party data on your website, app, and other platforms. Taking the right approach will encourage more people to share all types of information about themselves, especially if they feel you're giving them something of value in return.
The following are some specific ways you can collect zero-party data that you can use for personalization and a better overall understanding of your customers:
Quizzes and polls
One of the most effective ways to gather zero-party data and give your customers something in return is to issue quizzes or polls.
Quizzes ask people specific questions, often about their interests. Specifically, you might have a quiz on your website when onboarding customers that ask them about what types of products they like. For instance, a personal care company might ask about whether someone enjoys a bath or shower more, what kinds of notes they like in their body care products, and more, helping them find the right product in an extensive catalog. On completing that quiz, the customer may also gain access to a coupon.
You can also conduct polls, which are often ideal when businesses try to find out which products are worth offering and focusing on in their marketing campaigns based on popularity. For example, that same personal care company could ask multiple customers which scents they prefer in a body wash: fruity, musky, or floral. Based on the answers, the company can predict which notes will lead to more sales.
The right pop-ups can also help rather than annoy your customers. A valuable pop-up on your website could ask visitors a couple of key questions. As an example, a company might ask what product categories interest the visitor the most. This is followed by asking for an email address to send personalized recommendations with a discount coupon.
Approaches like this one would make pop-ups welcome as they bring real value to the customer and aren't just obvious ploys to collect data.
After customers buy from you, it's good to find out how that customer feels regarding their experience with your brand. What did that customer enjoy or dislike about your offerings or the customer experience? What are some areas of improvement that the customer would like to see?
By asking these and other questions in a quick survey, customers can provide valuable input that helps you determine what's working and what isn't. You can then take steps to encourage this and other similar customers to make future purchases and keep them coming back.
Be sure to offer a small reward in return for completing the survey. This can include a coupon code or an entry into a raffle.
Social media polls
In addition to your website or app, you can launch polls on your social media sites. These polls will give you the perfect chance to conduct A/B tests that gauge what people want most from your brand and products.
Consider giving your social media audiences two options to choose from in a quick poll. This will give users a choice without taking up too much of their time. Based on the results, you can determine what people prefer to help guide your campaigns and product development. You can also collect more data much faster on social media by broadcasting polls to larger active audiences.
Offering a great onboarding experience will give you another opportunity to collect zero-party datasets. After initially converting leads into customers, start building a deeper experience with your products by ensuring customers get what they want from them.
For example, a software company can ask new customers what they specifically want to achieve with the software based on their goals. The customer can then provide answers and, in turn, benefit from a personally tailored experience. As a result, the software company can get a better feel for the different use cases for their software. Also, determine what their customers use the software to accomplish most frequently.
How to collect first-party data
If you want to collect first-party data, you also have plenty of options to gather different datasets for help with personalization, retargeting and other efforts.
Here are some strategies for collecting first-party data from your website and other platforms:
When bringing new customers on board, you can begin by collecting their data through a user registration process. In addition to zero-party data that users provide, such as their names and emails, you can collect data through the customer profile. From there, you'll be able to see what products interest your users, how they navigate your website or app, and what products they order.
Signups through other platforms
When encouraging new users to sign up on your website or app, consider giving them the option of signing up through other platforms, such as Google or Facebook. This not only simplifies the signup process for new users to encourage more user registrations, but it can also give you access to data on these other platforms.
For instance, you'd be able to pull data such as the user's name, profile URL, and location from a Facebook profile. Of course, the user should always be aware that they're providing you with this data when engaging in a single sign-on (SSO) process.
Emails and SMS
You can also gain some insight into customers' preferences and interactions by looking into the analytics for your email and SMS text efforts. Some of this data could include clicks, opens, views, spam reports, and unsubscribes. These can help you determine how people are connecting (or disconnecting) from your brand.
Using certain types of analytical tools such as Google Analytics, you can track people based on their interactions and gain a better understanding of their behavior.
One way to use event-based tracking is to conduct an in-depth funnel analysis. This would help you map out events to see which sequence leads people down the funnel to conversion. Event-based tracking can also help with segmentation. You gather data that allows you to effectively compare various events and users. Depending on how people interact with your products, you can group them into specific segments.
If your website or app features highly shareable content, ensure that people can share it on social media and other channels. This content could include potentially viral videos that reach many audiences. This enables you to use analytical tools to measure views and other engagement metrics to advise your content strategy. Based on what content performs best, you can better determine which types of content are most valuable and redirect your funds and efforts to generate more.
Harness the power of zero- and first-party data
With a better idea of the differences between zero-party vs first-party data and how to collect both, you can decide on the right data to collect for your business. If you need help collecting zero-party data through your website or app, tools like Storyly can help conduct polls and surveys or encourage customers to engage with you in an entertaining way. While interacting with your customers, you'll gain access to crucial data that helps you continually optimize your marketing and business operations.