The Basics of Zero-Party Data

Apr 12, 2022

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably well aware of how important user data is for digital marketing. However, as the year continues, marketers should know the ins and outs of the various data types and what benefits each can bring.

Wait, how many types of data are there?

It gets a little confusing, so try to stick with us. There are three main types of data that marketers stand to gain a lot from, but not all types of data are created equal. We’ll do our best to illuminate the differences and inform marketers of how different data sources can benefit their digital marketing efforts.

The classic form of user data comes to us as Third-Party Data. 3rd party data is what comes to mind for most users when they think of data collection. Putting it simply, 3rd party data is collected by independent organizations and sold to brands. These organizations collect data about users’ buying habits, demographic information, and the broad strokes of the market. However, 3rd party data is on its way out, as its primary tool—cookies—are being phased out of most major browsers.

First-Party Data, on the other hand, is directly collected by brands to promote better customer experiences. 1st party data gives brands a clearer picture of the needs of their customers, as compared to 3rd party data’s broader, more anonymous data about the whole market. 1st party data includes things like website analytics, audience members’ social media profiles, users’ behavioral data (clicks, hovering, scrolls, etc.), and how customers interact with personalized experiences.

The final primary source of data is Zero-Party Data, which comprises information willingly given by audiences to brands for personalization. If a customer intentionally submits their phone number or email address in a form or survey, that becomes zero-party data. Zero-party data provides more context to consumers’ purchasing habits while also communicating how the individual wants to be interacted with by the brand. Zero-party data is becoming increasingly valuable as privacy regulations limit access to broader forms of data collection.

What makes zero-party data so important?

At face value, data collection can run into some issues—specifically in the realm of privacy. More and more users are opting-out of data collection services, mainly because users aren’t getting enough out of it. 3rd party data is an excellent example of this; as recently as 2017, studies show that web browsers deleted 64% of tracking cookies

Zero-party data, on the other hand, puts more agency into the hands of consumers. Unlike 3rd party data, which relies on sneaky methods to track unsuspecting users, zero-party data requires a connection between brands and audiences. By building a relationship with customers, brands can be more intentional with what data they collect, customers need to be enthusiastic about your brand to share their information willingly. Instead of inferring important information from 3rd party data, brands have the ability to ask their audience directly and get the results they need.

Zero-Party Data and Text Marketing

Leveraging the benefits of text marketing to acquire zero-party data is a no-brainer. No other marketing platform has as broad a reach as text with the same open rate. Text messaging makes acquiring zero-party data more accessible since a brand can send surveys and polls to collect more information and personalize that customer’s experience. 

It’s important to realize that since customers are intentionally giving their data to your brand, your brand has a responsibility to return the favor. Zero-party data is helpful to gain critical insights about your demographic as a whole, but individual customers expect to see personalization in their user experience. Ensure that your audience has something to gain from handing over their data; otherwise, they’ll be less inclined to share.