Why zero-party data equals marketing success

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What is zero-party data and why is it the key to marketing success in 2022 and beyond?  

It’s been the question on everyone’s lips since the infamous ‘Cookiepocalypse’, when Apple iOS updates and the elimination of thousands of detailed targeting categories limited the level of audience insights we could access on Facebook. With Facebook being the first mover and Google set to stop the use of third-party cookies on Chrome within the next two years, zero-party data is a major area of focus for marketers.

What is zero-party data?

For years we’ve relied on first-party data (browsing and app usage behaviours, transactional data) and third-party data (obtained from other sites and sources outside your own). Zero-party data is also known as explicit data. It’s a term coined by Forrester Research to describe any data that a customer intentionally shares with a brand. It could be purchase intentions, brand sentiment, demographics, and any other detail that a customer would like to be known as by the brand.  

The key thing to remember about zero-party data is that it is intentionally shared by customers. They are placing their trust in a brand enough to share details about themselves in the hope of having that value and trust reciprocated and manifested into more personalised digital experiences.  

So, how to obtain zero-party data?

Gathering data directly from customers is obtained through conversations, but with audiences of tens if not hundreds of thousands, brands may struggle to gather this sort of information in a timely and cost-effective fashion, right? How can you possibly have meaningful, insightful conversations with mass audiences?  

The good news is, the two tools you need are probably ones you’re using already: paid ads and email marketing.  

Consider running a paid campaign where the conversion goal isn’t actually a purchase or general website traffic, but rather to share data. Create ads to entice audiences to click through to a quiz, that either gathers data about brand sentiment, audience demographics, product interests, or all of the above. The data collated from that quiz forms your zero-party data. Because you’ve also gathered email addresses from that list, you’ll be able to build your subscriber base and better personalise your marketing efforts based on those insights.  

Is zero-party data effective?

It might seem as though nothing could be better than the existing levels of hyper-tracking we get in conventional paid marketing strategies. However, the value of zero-party data is not to be underestimated. When a customer makes the effort to provide meaningful data, customer trust is implied and the brand doesn’t have to guess that customer’s wants and intentions. As industry regulations surrounding data privacy tighten, explicit and intended information sharing from customers will be crucial to personalisation in marketing efforts.  

Of course, nothing is for free, and when customers trust you enough to share information with you, they expect value in return. So, be clear about why you are gathering data – usually it is so that you can make their experience more convenient by serving them only the information they need, whether it is particular products or direction to specific information the second they reach a particular landing page.  

That said, because needs and wants change over time its important to engage in regular follow-up to ensure that customers are enjoying their digital experience with your brand, and that you’re optimising for a value-rich experience Be an active listener, respond to needs and desires and be rewarded with a loyal and engaged following.  

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