I wrote this article as part of a series published on the Mercury Media Technology GmbH blog.
Although most businesses sighed with relief after Google announced its intentions to stop supporting third-party cookies two years later than originally planned, the need to rethink advertising strategies is still there. The only difference is that the subject has now been reclassified from “urgent” to “important”.
Where large-scale targeted campaigns relying on third-party datasets were enabling both businesses and tech agents to make a fortune out of it, it is now time to adapt the digital marketing paradigm to the “new normal” and establish a first-party data approach.
As explained in the latest article, relevance can be a powerful partner: firstly, because it helps exploit the “contextual environment” and secondly because it provides the opportunity to rely on the clientele and consumers already interested in your brand, products, or services. Capitalizing on those who are already interested in you can be extremely beneficial, as you can leverage the data collected from these people – upon their willful consent – to secure your future success.
The Corona Pandemic has shown us that digitalization is not just necessary – it is essential to keep your company afloat. All digital spaces, both existing and newly created, can collect information about behaviors and conversion paths. Coupled with user identification, this information is unique to your business and it is a real gold mine. This requires collecting these data in a structured, secure, and exhaustive manner, employing an infrastructure capable of analyzing and using them properly.
Welcome to first-party data strategy!
- What can you possibly do with first-party data?
- Why collect first-party data?
- How to collect data?
- How to set up first-party data collection?
What can you possibly do with first-party data?
“That is a good question!”. Why all this fuss?
The last few years have made client recruiting so cheap that many brands have lost the habit of retaining their own customers. I remember often thinking in the 2010s, “loyalty does not pay anymore”. Brands stopped rewarding their buyers for “staying with them”.
But yes, retention – or keeping your current customer happy – actually means creating value.
- Longer customer lifetime = higher customer lifetime value: your customer strategy can be evaluated in the long term, establishing the next sale and product upgrade cycle while keeping in touch with your customers.
- Lower cost of acquisition: building lasting relationships with customers instead of performing a series of one-off sales.
- Trust and advocacy/referral programs: leveraging this qualitative relationship to win new clients instead of purely relying on external factors.
- “En masse” personalization: defining customer clusters based on use cases may render one-on-one contact unnecessary since leveraging groups with similar tastes already offers a great personalization opportunity without extra costs.
Why collect first-party data?
Collecting first-party data can be a huge task if handled without a structured approach. There are so many potential data collection routes that it is important to establish business objectives and be clear on the status quo to kick things off: What do you wish to achieve with this new knowledge about your customers and prospects?
Data strategy can be based on quite ambitious business goals but at the same time entail gradual development along with data maturity evolution in the organization. By launching this effort, your company will also avoid relying purely on external partners to achieve growth, such as walled gardens and third-party providers.
How to collect data?
There is no magic trick here: this effort would require collaboration across the entire organization: CRM, IT, Marketing and Sales will have to work together on this. It means not just an extra strategy layer – it is rather a change management project.
- Assessment: What are the different owned contact environments where consumers and clients engage with your business? Is there any tech infrastructure in place to support information gathering, storage, and application? What are the current relationship platforms established with your clientele? Have you got a CRM system? Does it collect granular up-to-date information?
- Defining the goals of your business behind this strategy.
- Providing the right tech base and expertise: it is not just about buying new SaaS solutions, but rather about creating the right combination of tools that will work together and connect you to external capacities. Internal staff also need to be engaged in the process and complete adequate training to ensure proper usage.
- Consent Management Platform (CMP) to guarantee privacy alignment: align with global law + cross-platform and cross-device
- Storage and management => Customer Data Platform (CDP)must connect correctly with your marketing automation tools to be able to leverage the information stored.
- Data enrichment and usage: You may use a 2 or 3 step process to collect relevant client information like birthday date/gender or family status through prompt or loyalty programs in order to be even more relevant to them.
- Connection of your first-party data to external AdTech tools: we will explore this in a later article.
How to set up first-party data collection?
1. Define a clear goal for your first-party data to make sure that you collect and store the right information to achieve it. The typical data to collect are the ones to help you understand what types of customers you have and how to maximize their lifetime value:
- Identifiers: “who” are your customers – emails, logins, postcodes, etc.
- Interaction points with the brand (visit, referral, engagement, etc.).
- Transaction points (purchase, renewal, usage, etc.).
2. Build an approach to study and structure these customers into clusters that can later be leveraged for marketing purposes, e.g.:
- High-value customers,
- Frequent buyers,
- Brand ambassadors,
- Interested non-users.
3. Improve the relevance of your dataset via data enrichment campaigns using:
- Login walls on the website,
- Registration in apps,
- Loyalty programs,
- Contests and surveys.
4. First-party data connection with external platforms: The data can now be connected to providers of identifiers matching outside of your universe to target the consumers not only in your own universe but also on partner platforms and extend the reach with the creation of “lookalike” audience in walled gardens media.
5. First-party data connection with owned platforms:
- Sub-groups for personification at scale: give customers the feeling of being heard and understood.
- Timely contact to renew or rebuy: take product cycle into consideration in parallel with transactional data to select the right message.
- Product suggestions and offers: create opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
- Active referral programs to win new customers.
6. Reward your customers for entrusting you with their information:
- Keep it safe.
- Identify clearly the benefits they get from sharing their data.
- Be transparent about the ways you will use this information.
At MMT, we advise global companies around the topic of data usage, leverage that data to guide decision-making and establish data infrastructures. We help businesses to build their future growth through better insights into their media and advertising activities, including customer identifications.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with us!