Transformational Marketing: Capitalizing on the Marketing Gold Standard that is First-Party Data
Staying actively engaged with customers while getting the highest possible ROI on your marketing spend is the never ending challenge faced by companies both big and small. Learning the key advantages that come with utilizing first-party user data from existing customers is a tremendous way to lead to both short-term savings and long-term profits.
First-party data vs. third-party data: a quick overview
For the uninitiated, let’s quickly define the two main types of consumer data sets we’ll be comparing when it comes to user data.
Third-party data is unpersonalized aggregated data sold by data providers. This data is largely packaged as user behavior that presumes to be connected to your company’s product. For example, a ski resort wants to run ads to people in Colorado, so it buys the user data of people in the state who have shopped online for skis in the last 12 months and hope it can be converted to sales.
First-party data is data that a company already possesses from its existing users. This is data that is collected through different venues, such as the company website, mobile app behavior and interactions, purchase history, surveys, and customer feedback.
This first-party data uses internally generated measurable figures to better understand a company’s users, like how long they spend on a webpage or video or how many of them convert after viewing specific content. Third-party data is externally collected and more general in it’s associations to a company’s product without completely knowing if the data will eventually turn into paying customers.
Now that everyone reading this hopefully understands the basics, let’s dig in a bit deeper to find out what truly differentiates these two types of data when it comes to providing value in marketing.
Better value: third-party or first-party data?
At first glance, one may say that all data is useful data, and this is true to an extent. For example, new companies that are focused on building a user base can greatly benefit from the use of third-party data to try to recruit customers. As general as this info may be, there’s not much of an alternative as a company is getting started than to hope these loose connections turn into users. But let’s talk about companies that already have a user base and want to more effectively find a way to increase profits and decrease marketing costs.
Some companies believe that building the number of new users is the most important objective, but statistically speaking, the better value is to focus on their existing users, as proven by some interesting figures we’ve listed below.
- Acquiring a new customer may cost up to five times more than the cost of retaining an existing customer1.
- User retention has a better statistical ROI than user acquisition, as it may take several months or even years of targeting for substantial initial customer acquisition to occur, but a 5% increase in retention rates can lead to a profit increase of 25-95%2.
- 64% of marketers say that first-party data leads to the highest increase in Customer Lifetime Value3. This increased Customer Lifetime Value encourages users to bring their business back to you repeatedly.
- Focusing on the satisfaction of existing customers pays marketing dividends. A study found that 92% of global consumers trust the referral of a friend, family member or acquaintance over any form of corporate advertising.4 This means that retention feeds into your acquisition, and you don't have to pay a cent for the positive publicity. With this data in hand it becomes clear that first-party data is a highly valuable way to grow your business. The next question that every company needs to ask itself should be: how can we best focus our marketing strategy and create tools to use our existing customer user data effectively?
How to harness the power of first-party data
Capture the data
The first step in harnessing the benefits of first-party data is creating a unified first-party data platform. This platform will capture user interactions and pull actionable insights that both retain and grow your customer base. Once you have the infrastructure set up, you will be able to reap the benefits continuously to improve your marketing results, while gathering invaluable feedback about your products.
Create a single customer profile
Each customer is represented by multiple individual, anonymous profiles as they engage with a brand offline and online across the web, mobile apps, email, brick-and-mortar stores, call centers and other touchpoints. Merging these profiles into a single customer view allows marketers to gain deeper understanding of customer insights, needs and behaviors, including getting a more accurate calculation of Customer Lifetime Value.
Predict Future Patterns
The accuracy and relevance of first-party data allows you to predict future patterns, such as audience behavior, with confidence.
For example, if your audience rarely clicks on banner ads but often engages with video ads, you can adjust your future content accordingly to appeal more to your audience.
Personalize Content, Ads and Offerings
Using the single customer profile and the insights you gain about your audience allows you to personalize the information you are showing them or sending to them. This can include content and advertisements, but also individual offerings where you can upsell different products to different customers based on their behavior and history with your brand.
Companies that got it right in utilizing first party data
The objective was to leverage first-party data to increase second orders and Customer Lifetime Value. ASOS wanted to reduce “Hit & Run” (customers who purchase once and not again within 12 months) by targeting them with tailored ads to stimulate and nurture a second purchase.
- Onboarded first-party data along with the CRM data to target qualifying customers
- Used an identity solution to solve for cross-device
- Personalized the messaging and products offered with variables, such as gender, recency since first purchase, number of returned items, browsing data and favorite brands
- Reduced “Hit & Run” by ~4% MOM, driving incremental revenues in the millions of Pounds
- Achieved ROI between 1.80 – 3.90
- 1.8x increase in purchase frequency of those exposed to “Hit & Run” ads vs the control ads
Italo– High-speed Train Transport
The goal was to leverage first-party data for personalized marketing actions and advertising investments on online channels. There was a need to renew technologies and methodologies with a data-driven approach to acquire new customers and activate them, while retaining existing clients and optimizing marketing investments.
- Integrated website navigation data, CRM data, e-mail marketing data and all data extracted from online advertising platforms into a single data lake
- Connected it with offline data from e-ticket offices and travel agencies
- Applied marketing automation solutions (e.g. personalized emails)
Outcome (after three months):
- Increased purchases of loyal customers with personalized actions after a user abandoned the cart
- +3% conversion rate from prospecting activities
- +20% conversion rate from remarketing activities, decreasing investment by 15%
Henkel Beauty Care recognizes that there has been an exponential segmentation of the market. The amount of different consumer profiles or personas Henkel now targets has increased from 5 to 50.
This greater diversity in profiles has helped them become smarter, get closer to the customers and listen more. They have switched from having just a few touch points with customers to a continuous exchange from ideation to product launch.
- Developed an IoT tool, which analyzes customer’s hair, giving them information about their hair structure, color, and condition.
- Able to give consumers a more personalised hair care product as well as make recommendations about the kind of color that would suit them, and the type of hair treatment they need.
Pet Health Pal is a new educational chatbot powered by a Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp chatbot that answers pet parents’ pressing wellness questions, from COVID-19-related concerns to general inquiries about pet nutrition, health, exercise and wellbeing.
- The data is collected about both the pet and the customer, and data collection is already embedded into Whatsapp and Facebook. Users can also sign up to receive the latest scientific updates about the coronavirus and pets.
- The company is able to identify the customers easily and create a single customer profile to collect all insights in one place. The data can also be used for outreach personalization and upselling based on the information about the pet.
#HereToBeHeard is a new global crowdsourcing campaign that elevates the voices of women from all intersections to help shape a more inclusive business environment and create a world where all women can thrive.
- Surveys are used to learn more about the audience, while creating a community that fights for a bigger goal. The survey allows you to record your responses in both voice and written format.
- The responses will inform the concrete actions Mars will take - both within its value chain and in broader society - to close the gender opportunity gap. The data can also be used to adjust and personalize marketing efforts.
The conclusion from all of this is simple: utilizing first-party data is a highly-effective short-term and long-term marketing solution with the added benefit of less cost. The sooner a company can put a marketing plan focused on putting this user data into action, the sooner they can begin to reap the rewards.
U+ can help you serve your customers’ needs and wants better by utilizing first-party data
The U+ Method can efficiently and effectively lead the development, implementation, and improvement of digital innovations in any sector. To date, we have used this method to bring 80+ products to market, creating over $1 billion in value for Fortune 1000 companies.
Our four-step product development methodology focuses on executing the risky stages of product development before initiating large build–outs.
We conduct initial idea validation and market testing, during which we evaluate whether an idea satisfies the wants and needs of a specific market and target demographics.
When we find a market-verified value proposition, we define the product and determine ways of taking it to the market. During this stage, we build prototypes, run smoke tests (a software testing process that determines the stability of a software build), and evaluate launch channels and features.
Our developers and designers build a minimum viable product (MVP) as we simultaneously move to launch with early adopters.
When the MVP launch goes well, we scale up the product based on market feedback. This stage typically includes support for internal operational processes and product modifications based on early customer feedback.