The success of digital marketing has been driven by the incredible proliferation of cheap data. Think powerful targeting in ad platforms like Google and Meta, the building of lookalike audiences, ad personalisation, email lists and much more.
However, not all data is created equally, and recent and upcoming changes in privacy laws and platforms mean marketers have to understand the different types of data, and where they should be investing their time and money to stay ahead (and out of trouble) of these changes.
The bottom line, data will continue to be a critical part of your marketing toolkit, but only if you adapt to the new reality.
What are the different types of marketing data?
First-party data refers to the information that a company collects directly from its own customers or users through interactions with its owned channels or touchpoints. It includes data such as website visits, purchase history, email interactions, and other customer-related information.
Second-party data refers to data that is obtained directly from another company or organisation. It is shared or exchanged between two trusted entities, typically through a strategic partnership or collaboration. This data provides insights into another company's customers or audience, allowing for enhanced targeting and personalisation efforts.
Third-party data refers to data that is collected by external entities that are separate from the company using the data. These entities gather data from various sources, such as websites, apps, social media platforms, or data aggregators. Third-party data providers compile and offer this data to marketers for targeting, audience segmentation, and insights. It can include demographic information, interests, browsing behaviour, and other attributes, providing a broader view of the target audience beyond a company's own data.
Privacy laws and platform changes are having a big impact on marketing data
Recent (and upcoming) changes to privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA, have imposed stricter consent requirements for collecting and using personal data. Companies and platforms are increasingly cautious about sharing user data and the end result has been a reduction in the quality and quantity of second and third-party data.
There is no suggestion this move to greater privacy will ease up. If anything, the expectation is that second and third-party data will continue to be challenged.
On top of this are platform changes, such as Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework and Google's phasing out of third-party cookies, which have (or will) reduce the accessibility and usability of third-party data. These changes aim to enhance user privacy by limiting tracking and data sharing across platforms, affecting the availability and reliability of third-party data.
Why is First-party data important?
First-party data has always been the most powerful data for marketers. It’s also often been the most expensive to collect and maintain, and the reality is that many marketers have failed to build this asset effectively and typically make use of it in only limited ways.
The data landscape is changing, and the incentives for building first-party data and getting the most out of it is getting stronger and stronger. When it comes to third-party data, ad targeting is unlikely to return to the good old days of the fairly recent past. Sending bulk emails to unsuspecting databases of people who have never heard of you will continue to be a poor idea. Tracking users across devices and platforms is not something we’ll be able to rely on. And so it goes on. Using technology and third-party personal information at scale is going to continue to decline as will the results of marketers who rely on it.
This leaves marketers willing and able to deliver real value and build real relationships with their audience in a powerful position. In a world where brands who do not know us will struggle to target us with ads and content, those brands who have invested in a relationship with us will be in a powerful position because they will have the ability to truly stand out.
What is First-party data?
First-party marketing data is more than just an email address and a name; it's a goldmine of information with the potential to revolutionize marketing strategies. Leveraged to its fullest, this data can significantly amplify personalization, and segmentation, and provide deep insights to boost marketing ROI. Such data encompasses interactions on your website, patterns of email engagement, detailed customer profiles which include demographics, contact details, and preferences, as well as historical purchase records. It can also offer direct insights from customer feedback, whether through surveys, reviews, or other channels, records of sales and customer service interactions, geographical location data, and details about device and browser usage. Additionally, it sheds light on specifics like items saved on wishlists, abandoned shopping cart data, user search queries, subscription details, and data on event attendance and preferences. Harnessing these myriad data points can truly transform a marketer's approach.
How to use your first-party data?
Personalisation: Use first-party data to deliver personalised marketing messages and experiences based on individual customer preferences, behaviours, and purchase history. This can be done through email, SMS, social media, or any other channel where you communicate with your customers. For example, you could send a targeted email to customers who have recently viewed a product but haven't made a purchase, or you could show different product recommendations to customers based on their past purchases.
Audience segmentation: Use first-party data to segment your audience into different groups based on their demographics, interests, or purchase behaviour. This allows you to create more targeted marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate with each group. For example, you could create a segment for customers who are likely to churn and target them with offers to keep them engaged.
Customer retention: Use first-party data to identify customers who are at risk of churn and implement targeted retention strategies to reduce churn rates. This could involve sending targeted emails, offering discounts or promotions, or providing personalized customer service.
Cross-selling and upselling: Use first-party data to identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities by understanding customers' previous purchases and preferences. This could involve recommending related products or services to customers or offering discounts for additional items.
Customer journey optimization: Use first-party data to map out the customer journey and identify touchpoints where customers may face challenges or