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CRM & Loyalty

The goal in the new cookieless world should be to find creative ways to get valuable first-party data or zero-party data from consumers.
First-party data is data that comes directly from customers. It reveals what someone does on a website (for example, navigation behaviour via clicks), and it also includes direct feedback, such as via contact forms or comments under blog articles.

One great example is direct-to-consumer apparel brand, ThirdLove. Co-founder, Heidi Zak was inspired to start the company while shopping for a bra at a shopping centre. Though she realised it didn’t fit, she bought one anyway and regretted her decision once she got home. She knew women needed a better experience to find bras that actually fit.

She and her team solved this problem by providing consumers the opportunity to fill out a quiz where they can share personal information in order to get a recommendation on the best bra. For instance, depending on how a person answers previous questions, the quiz may ask if they’ve gained or lost weight. And, they’re likely going to answer without hesitation because that information can help ThirdLove provide them with a product that fits them perfectly.

That same first-party data can also be used to inform bigger decisions facing your organisation. Heidi further explained that “We use all of those data points (gathered from quizzes) and build an internal algorithm that keeps getting smarter. For instance, the data helps inform supply chain decisions, such as how to manage inventory of particular sizes. It also helps us understand how size trends change over time.”

First-party data allows you to better understand consumers, their interests and wishes. However, like names and addresses, this data becomes outdated relatively quickly.
The industry also has a newer term: Zero-Party-Data. Forrester Research defines Zero-party as data “which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference centre data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognise them.”

This data is valuable because it shows the customer trusts the brand enough to share personal information and to keep shared data safe and secure. The brand also can have added trust that the data is accurate as it came directly from the customer.

The key to collecting this data is the issue of reciprocity. The customer expects that their sharing of data results in something positive for themselves (discounts, rewards, free shipping etc.).

There are a number of ways to collect and use zero-party data. Today, I’m going to focus on “personalisation by invitation” or identity marketing.

Identity marketing relies on personalised offers for customers who feel like they belong to a community – whether it’s through their profession (caregivers, teachers), their stage of life (students, seniors), or their affiliation with an organisation (the military). These groups are called consumer tribes because they are close-knit and know and like each other.

What can zero-party on the principle of identity marketing look like in practice?

For instance, travel provider, Cheap Caribbean, now makes special offers on its travel packages to medical professionals. Customers willingly provide proof that they’re a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional in order to qualify for the offer.

Nine Tips for Identity Marketing success

Zero-party data is the key to long-term success. And identity marketing solves several problems in this competitive environment, because you directly reach the prospects you want to attract as customers – people who identify with your brand and the values you convey. Convincing customers to share this data requires special incentives. In the following, I present incentives that go beyond the usual lures like discounts, BOGO (buy one, get one free), free shipping, and so on.

1. Create a compelling invitation:
Zero-party data is the key to your long-term success. Get your customers to happily share it by giving them an offer that makes them feel special and expresses a sincere desire for them to join your brand family.

2. Build consumer trust by respecting privacy:
Identity marketing lets customers opt in to your brand, but that’s just the first step in overcoming their data privacy concerns. To earn their ongoing trust, you need to use their data to create personalised marketing that reinforces their special status and offers them real value.

3. Be everywhere your customers are:
Promote your offers broadly and use channels your consumer tribes are already in. Try tactics such as putting your teacher offer on teacher advocacy websites or hosting on-campus events to engage students.

4. Speak your customers’ language:
Use messaging and imagery that emotionally engages your consumer tribe. Thank teachers for educating our youth, and tell students you support their efforts to pursue their dreams.

5. Make it easy for customers to brag about you:
The personal connections within your consumer tribe are your greatest asset. Leverage them by running social media campaigns and referral programmes that encourage customers to share your offer. If you give them a reason and a way to rave about your brand, they will.

6. Integrate your campaigns with your loyalty programme:
Make joining your loyalty programme a step in the verification process to redeem your offer. Once your new customers are members, you can nurture them more fully, and they can access their discount on all future purchases automatically.

7. Give your consumer tribe one hundred percent:
Go beyond a discount by creating and supporting programmes that enhance the well-being of your consumer tribes. Fund a scholarship for university students, donate to the schools in your community, and go out of your way to hire veterans. Caring for your consumer tribes makes your company a leader in their eyes and will endear them to your brand.

8. Celebrate your customers year-round:
Run campaigns on holidays that honor your consumer tribes, such as Armed Forces Day, Grandparents Day, and Teachers’ Day.
Give your customers an additional discount or a special gift to remind them you’re always on their side.

9. Take up cause marketing:
Consumers buy from companies that share their values. Invest in causes you know your customers support, and you’ll create awareness and goodwill that keeps your brand top of mind and inspires genuine loyalty.
During the pandemic, several brands decided to give back to frontline workers such as doctors and nurses. Chipotle for example launched a campaign to donate a burrito to a healthcare professional for every burrito a customer purchased digitally.

Balancing Privacy and Personalisation

Historically, many brands have hesitated to ask prospects too many – or too personal – questions out of fear of creating what they believe is unnecessary “friction.” But when you consider that these questions help the buyer get exactly what they want, you flip the script from intrusive friction to an overall great buying experience.
Moreover, data gathered from invited personalisation efforts can drive future brand loyalty. When you obtain data in an open and honest way, you kick off the relationship from a place of mutual trust and engagement, where both parties feel good about the exchange and benefit from it. This is the starting point for longer-term connection and loyalty.
With growing protections on consumer privacy, there’s no doubt the industry is shifting—and that’s a good thing. And within this new world, “invitation” allows for privacy and personalisation to coexist.

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