How to Collect More First-Party Data

If you didn't know what first-party data was before Google announced its plans to end support for third-party cookies, this is your wake-up call. First-party data is an extremely useful resource that allows marketers, publishers, website managers and business strategists to build rich, privacy-friendly profiles of users. Companies use these profiles to build effective engagement campaigns, personalized messaging and advertising experiences that motivate users to take a desired action.

First-party data is a focal point for publishers and media brands as the death of the third-party cookie looms and leaves them searching for new solutions for tracking and engaging consumers across the Internet. First-party data is among the most valuable types of data that companies can collect about their end users because it’s more accurate and recent than third-party data. The death of the third-party cookie means permission-based first-party data is vital for any and all digital engagement with your audience. It’s imperative to understand what that data is and how you can develop a proper data strategy to achieve business success.

Examples of first-party data

With third-party cookies becoming obsolete, it’s imperative that publishers and media brands shift their strategies and focus their efforts on collecting first-party data to build more effective audience profiles. The audience profiles you build from your first-party data help you predict future behavioral trends and make the strategic decisions necessary to proactively fuel growth.

What are some of the prime examples of first-party data?

  • Behavioral data collected from on-site or in-app actions
  • Profile information stored within your CRM database
  • Information on your company’s social media followers
  • Contact details collected from subscription or newsletter registrations
  • Results from surveys and other research initiatives
  • User-generated feedback provided by paying customers

How you should collect first-party data

Among the most common acquisition tactics for collecting first-party data directly from your end users include:

  • Emails
  • SMS
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Points of purchase
  • Direct mail
  • CRM data
  • Newsletter sign-ups

For publishers and brands, there are four common tactics to collect first-party data from users. The first is to require that users register for access to site content via newsletters. In exchange for an email address, users are added to the newsletter contact list and receive regular updates from your company that feature some of your site’s most intriguing articles. As a business, you can then use this contact information to launch email marketing campaigns that promote full subscriptions to your website, as well as advanced targeting campaigns to acquire people with similar interests and behaviors.

The second option is more of a low-funnel strategy through the use of subscription paywalls. Paywalls are one of the most practical methods of acquiring customer data. Paywalls are used to monetize onsite content and facilitate direct brand engagement. They also indicate the users who are most engaged with the website —  it’s by targeting visitors with similar profiles that publishers can expand their subscriber base.

The third option is to use progressive profiling, a tactic in which you collect relevant information about your audience little by little at a time. For example, you might only ask for a name and an email address to register people for a newsletter, and then request for more data at later stages of the consumer journey.

Finally, you can also use surveys and quizzes to collect more detailed information about your audience. Ask very specific and strategic questions from your participants, and use those responses to inform future strategies for engagement and website optimization.

By creating value exchange — access to quality content and features in exchange for a user’s data — publishers inspire users to become more engaged with their brand while collecting more first-party data. As a media brand, you can even tailor featured content like the daily weather forecasts for their community using zip codes as a targeting mechanism. Similarly, you can feature the most localized stories and articles related to a particular user’s interest right in the newsfeed on the website. The most engaged users may even become advocates for your brand, one of the reasons why digital publishing strategies have become desired business models for advertisers.

In what ways do you gain value from first-party data?

First-party data, along with zero-party data — intentionally volunteered, user-controlled data — are strategic assets that improve how companies engage with audiences. Since companies acquire first-party data directly from users, they can enhance their targeting capabilities with personalized messaging and relevant content tailored to their unique interests.

You can also create segments of users based on shared patterns and characteristics, and you can use those segments to create effective formulas for how to position content on your website. Additionally, once you’ve created the segments, you can use lookalike modelling to find other users and expand your pool of engaged audiences.

First-party data also helps brands improve the accuracy of their messaging and improve the measurement of campaigns, resulting in more optimized strategies to maximize audience engagement. Collectively, each of these tactics helps optimize your website and improve overall site performance, leading to more ROI for your company. You can measure the ROI of your efforts by analyzing the effect on monthly or annual recurring revenue, monthly or annual churn, customer acquisition costs, average revenue per user, and the customer lifetime value derived from each of your active users.

Why is first-party data so important?

As of February 2021, over 46% of all web browsing experiences in the United States are conducted on Google Chrome. When Google officially retires third-party cookies, that means nearly half of all US internet traffic will no longer be trackable without alternative solutions. Both Safari and Firefox have already retired third-party cookies, which leaves less and less internet users available to track.

First-party data is the most accurate and effective means of tracking users. It fully complies with privacy protection laws, like GDPR or CCPA, since information is willfully shared by users with your business. It allows you to build more effective audience profiles that enhance the capabilities of your engagement campaigns, on-site messaging, content strategies and native advertising relationships.