The use or, more accurately, the misuse of customer data has been the subject of discussion for digital marketers for the past few years.
Constant updates on data and customer privacy are increasingly difficult to keep up with, and data protection regulations have been progressively tightening.
From the introduction of GDPR in the UK, CCPA in the United States, to the removal of third-party cookies; these developments demonstrate that customers want clarification on how their data is being used.
Because of this increasing demand, digital marketers have been forced to think of new ways to collect, use and visualise data. For a while now, the focus has been on first-party data, but there’s one form of data that has been somewhat forgotten up until now – zero-party data.
So, what is zero-party data, and why does it hold such importance in this privacy-led digital world?
What Is Zero-Party Data?
Zero-party data is a subset of first-party data. This data will include personal information your customers willingly and proactively share with you, such as their demographics, shopping preferences, pain points, and contact information.
Customers might choose to share this data through registration systems, questionnaires and surveys, feedback forms, social media polls, and more.
If you'd like to read more about how to collect your own zero-party data, head over to this blog for a more in-depth analysis.
What’s the Difference Between First- and Zero-Party Data?
It’s important to distinguish the differences between zero- and first-party data. First-party data is passively collected from web analytics, social, CRM, and email marketing for example.
This form of data will give you implied customer preferences. What we mean by this is that you will still have to theorise your customers’ preferences based on their previous interactions with your content, rather than intentional preferences.
Why Is Zero-Party Data Important?
So, why should you shift your focus to zero-party data?
With zero-party data, you will significantly reduce your dependence on third-party data and have the resources to create and retain meaningful relationships founded on personalisation and trust.
Today, customers expect a tailored experience when interacting with brands. Collecting a few email addresses and phone numbers doesn’t give you enough information to create that truly personalised experience people are looking for.
You need to get to know your customers, their preferences, needs, and pain points. And according to Octane AI’s consumer behaviour report, 71% of customers are more willing to share this kind of information with you if it means they will receive more tailored recommendations.
The Benefits of Zero-Party Data
As you would expect, zero-party data has quite a few business benefits. This data can help you gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs and expectations. And it’s this information that could give you an edge over your competitors.
Let’s take a look at some of the other key benefits of zero-party data.
Unlike other forms of data, zero-party data can be extremely cost-effective. This is because it’s more reliable and accurate than its data counterparts.
Customers are given the power to choose to provide personal information, and by giving your customers the choice, you will secure a first-hand, detailed account of their actual likes and dislikes.
You can use this data to create more personalised campaigns for your customers throughout the buyer journey. This could in turn increase customer loyalty and satisfaction in a way that doesn’t break the bank.
Accuracy & Quality
Because your customers have chosen to give you their information, you can be confident of its quality and accuracy. Having high-quality information means you can create accurate customer profiles.
With zero-party data, you don’t have to piece together a customer profile based on their previous interactions with your brand.
With the demand for tailored customer journeys continuing to rise, the brands that do provide high-quality personalisation are the ones that will reap the rewards. If you don’t start using zero-party data to customise your user journeys, then you may start to lose out to your competitors.
Compliance with Regulations
In response to the growing importance of data security and customer pressure for digital privacy, governments and regulators have either tightened or introduced data protection laws.
These protection laws mean that businesses are now put under a microscope when it comes to the strength of their data security. And brands that rely on third-party data may not be as compliant as they wish to be...
With third-party data, it can be difficult to determine whether it has been obtained in a way that’s compliant with security regulations, like GDPR or CCPA.
However, using zero-party data alongside your first-party data can help you avoid breaching data security laws and/or regulations, as the customer has willingly shared their personal information with you directly.
Improved Customer Loyalty
If you have more accurate data to hand, you will be able to nurture your customers at all touchpoints throughout the user journey according to specific customer profiles.
With zero-party data, you can improve your contextual targeting and create effective campaigns dependent on your clients' needs and pain points. This personalised service can help retain more customers in the long run.
Using Data Your Competitors Can’t
If you focus your attention on using zero-party data to inform your marketing campaigns, then you eliminate the possibility of using the same data your competitors also rely on.
The data you gain from your customers is yours and yours alone. Use it wisely, and stand out in the crowd.
We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the digital marketing world, and so the need to change the way we collect and use our data is now non-negotiable.
By shifting your attention to the power of zero-party data, you too will be able to gather the vital information you need to create personalised user journeys and marketing strategies that customers now crave.