How to create a zero-party data strategy

An effective zero-party data strategy enables marketing teams to collect relevant data about customers, create more personalized experiences, and run more targeted campaigns.

Customers voluntarily and intentionally provide zero-party data through form submissions, quizzes, questionnaires, or surveys on a website or landing page, as well as through customer profiles or membership applications. Some experts consider this type of data an evolution of explicit data, as the individual explicitly provides that information to an organization that may treat it as a form of currency in exchange for offers, other promotional content, or personalized experiences.

Businesses can do a lot with zero-party data, so marketers need to have a strategy about what information they collect, how they use it to segment and target customers, and how they store and protect that data to ensure that prospects and customers trust the company.

To build an effective zero-party data strategy, marketing teams should follow these five tips.

1. Understand the differentiators of zero-party data

A good zero-party data strategy eliminates the big brother aspect that exists with third-party data collection teams collect and use from various sources to track individuals online with ads or other messages. Zero-party data eliminates this potentially scary experience. Customers know when they’re sharing zero-party data, and businesses can leverage it to deliver tailored experiences for audiences.

The three key differentiators between zero-party and third-party data are as follows:

  • User Provided Information. Marketers collect zero-party data directly from the user. Thus, the organization owns the data that it can store in its CRM database or any other platform. This data is a competitive advantage because no external sources are involved in collecting it.
  • It won’t go away. Third-party cookies can collect large amounts of information about a user’s online behavior, but companies and search engines are gradually phasing them out.
  • Fewer privacy concerns. Cookies raise consumer privacy concerns, and organizations should make it clear to users how they collect, store, and use zero-party data. The transparency allows users to rest assured that the company will not sell their data to other sources.
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A diagram showing the different ways companies can collect user data
Zero-party data is collected with the user’s knowledge, but third-party data is not.

2. Determine which data should be collected

From contact information to demographics, marketers should determine what data to collect through forms, registrations, surveys, questionnaires, and more.

Businesses should understand what data they need for successful segmentation and personalization. Contact information is basic; Items such as name, email, and phone number are all acceptable. Demographics such as interests, location, job titles, and company names can create an ideal customer profile, and marketers can use this information to tailor different campaign messaging and timing.

Marketers shouldn’t collect too much information at once. Users can turn away when asked to fill out too much or unnecessary data, so marketing teams should balance what to collect versus what to deliver in return.

If an organization already knows certain user data, they can use progressive profiling in forms to ask additional questions. For example, if someone has already filled out a form with basic contact information, the form may prompt them with different questions next time. This approach avoids having prospects fill out the same data repeatedly and collects more data at different touchpoints.

3. Locate where to collect data

Between the company website, customer support platforms, and surveys, marketers have many opportunities to collect zero-party data. These locations include the following:

  • Website forms and landing pages. These are places where individuals provide data in exchange for something of value. Many organizations offer webinars, exclusive events, white papers, e-books, and other content in return for this data. Other website tools like pop-ups and chatflows also provide valuable opportunities to collect data and engage with contacts.
  • surveys and questionnaires. This option allows customer success teams to gather more information about contacts, their interests, and what they think of their purchases.
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4. Fit zero-party data into existing marketing campaigns

Zero-party data can empower existing marketing strategies and campaigns. In particular, the following techniques can benefit from it:

  • Personalization. Zero-party data can help a company create personalized experiences and develop market research by evaluating customer data to see which products or services are stronger in specific segments.
  • loyalty programs. Marketing teams can collect zero-party data to drive customer loyalty programs and offer premium content, webinars, discount codes or offers. When this data is added to active campaigns, it can amplify success and enable future retargeting efforts.
  • customer retention. Information from past purchases and membership profiles can support customer retention strategies. For example, if you know someone’s birthday, marketers can know to send a birthday message or recommend similar products for previous purchases.

Users value privacy and privacy, so organizations need to be transparent about how they collect and use—or don’t use—data.

5. Be transparent with customers

Users value privacy and privacy, so organizations need to be transparent about how they collect and use—or don’t use—data. More organizations than ever have added these types of policies to their digital assets. Many brands have a cookie policy pop-up on their websites to allow users to customize their settings, which can help build trust between consumers and brands.

A legal and compliance team should help work on the language to use in these policies to protect customers and provide transparency about what the company collects. Businesses can provide a link to their privacy policy with form submissions and give users the ability to adjust preferences or unsubscribe from certain email subscriptions to build more trust between the brand and the customer.

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