First party data is customer and audience data a brand collects through interactions across multiple owned channels, both online and offline.
Types of first party data include:
- Demographics (age, marital status, sex, education, religion, occupation, family status, etc.)
- Purchase history
- Website and mobile application activity
- Contests, sweepstakes and promotions
- Transcripts from website chatbots
- Support calls
- Customer feedback programs
- Offline data (e.g. receipt submission and validation)
Why is First-Party Data Important?
Customers are increasingly demanding more relevant, personalized experiences from the brands they engage with and buy from. At the same time, they are also becoming warier in giving their personal information up because they don’t trust how brands are using that information.
Many brands rely on third-party cookies to collect data about their customers to help provide these personalized experiences. But Google is ending support for third-party cookies in 2023, and brands need to find other ways to gather more information about their customers.
In addition, privacy regulations are impacting how brands can collect and use customer data. Regulations like GDPR and CCPA are just the start, as many other states and countries are developing privacy laws of their own. In addition, companies like Apple and Facebook have implemented privacy protections that enable consumers to block brands from tracking their activity on social media, email, and mobile applications.
Customers and audiences freely give their information to companies they trust, and they expect some kind of value in return. These customer expectations and the changing privacy and technology landscape are driving the need for brands to use their first party data more effectively.
Collecting First-Party Data
Brands have a wealth of channels where they interact and engage with customers, including:
- Website and mobile website activity
- Mobile applications
- Email marketing
- SMS marketing
- POS purchases
- eCommerce purchases
- Loyalty programs
- Customer success and support interactions
First party data is stored in many different applications, such as CRM (customer relationship management system), MA (marketing automation system), Support applications, and loyalty applications. These systems all store and manage data differently, sometimes storing the same customer data, so you’ll need a way to bring it all together to leverage it to improve customer experiences.
The Difference Between First Party and Zero Party Data
While there is some overlap between first party and zero party data, there are major differences. Zero party data is data customers willing give to brands to personalize how the brand engages with them, including communication preferences, personal preferences, and purchase interests. Zero party data is primarily collected through preference centers and loyalty programs, along with website forms, quizzes, and surveys. A key difference between the two is that zero party data is collected for both customers and non-customers, whereas first party data is collected for customers.
First-Party Data Use Cases
There are many use cases for first party data, including in marketing, sales, and customer success and support.
Personalization: The most discussed use case is personalization, especially in marketing strategies. Customers expect brands to know them and create experiences that show that. Customized offers and recommendations based on recent activity or purchases are examples of personalization that uses first party data.
Advertising: Marketers can create lists using first party data that enable more targeted advertising in emails and through some social networks. These lists are also used to create lookalike audiences, enabling a personalized experience for customers who have similar attributes.
Omnichannel Engagement: When a brand is able to bring together all its first party data, it can analyze how customers engage with them across channels. By tracking their actions across channels, they can see how a customer moves through channels to ultimately make a purchase. This information enables marketers to improve the purchase journey.
Email and SMS Marketing: Brands can send more relevant email promotions and SMS notifications using first party data.
Retargeting: First party data helps marketers understand which customers haven’t engaged with the brand for a long period. They can then create retargeting campaigns to re-engage customers and increase the potential for new sales.
Along with many marketing use cases, there are also examples where sales and support can create better customer experiences using first party data.
Loyalty programs: Brands can offer loyalty programs to customers that include discounts, special invite-only events, and birthday gifts. Customers can also collect points to earn money off purchases. Loyalty programs are one area where there is overlap with zero party data.
Customer Success programs: Brands can track how customers use their mobile application and send emails or mobile app notifications that provide insights on how to improve the customer’s use of the application. Customer success teams can also implement cross-sell and upsell campaigns based on how mobile apps are used.