4 strategies for connecting with your customers through zero-party data

4 strategies for connecting with your customers through zero-party data
Sep 29, 2022
Unlike transactional and behavioral data, which are inferred by marketers, zero-party data is willingly provided. Here are four ways businesses get their customers excited to share that data.

In the past 20 years, data—and the collection and use of it—has come a long way. But what do you actually know about an individual based on their data? Transactional data, like purchase history, and behavioral data, like pages viewed, tell marketers the what, the how, and the where. But it’s only zero-party data, also known as declared data, that tells marketers the why.

The importance of declared data

Zero-party data is information willingly provided directly by customers, and it includes their motivations, intentions, interests, and preferences. This data can be used to personalize communications and experiences, thereby making them more relevant and compelling. Back in the day, surveys and focus groups were some of the only ways to capture this data. Now, there are much more seamless and low-cost tactics available to marketers.

Why is declared data becoming more and more important?

While 90% of U.S. consumers find marketing personalization very or somewhat appealing, only 15% of marketers can integrate big and small data to create a holistic customer view. This gap affects their ability to deliver the type of experience consumers demand.

Big data—meaning data from sources such as clickstream, POS, and CRM interactions—is effective at providing very detailed accounts of what customers are doing. Small data, such as data gathered from surveys, focus groups, online research communities, and mobile ethnographies, tells you why customers are doing what they’re doing.

With the impending death of third-party cookies and the increasing push for greater consumer privacy, there’s a growing need for brands to collect more zero-party data. Here are four strategies to do so, along with in-action examples from the brands who are doing it well:

1. Make it quick and easy

Collect information in bite-sized moments so it doesn’t feel overwhelming to the customer.

TikTok, for example, includes a simple onboarding email that allows users to quickly indicate their interests and intent (what they want to see in their feed), then tailors content based on declared data that’s been seamlessly and directly captured.

LinkedIn regularly asks simple questions that encourage users to rate or rank its content to ensure it’s helpful and relevant to users. The company then uses that info to personalize and tailor the messaging in their feeds.

Recently, Napa Auto Parts sent an email asking members to select the kind of car person they are. The company then promised to tailor member emails based on the member’s level of experience. Going forward, Napa Auto Parts now has a user-generated segmentation model to build out or add on to, and it will have the ability to target members with content based on their answer.

2. Give an instant benefit

People consider a fair value exchange to be the main driver for trusting a brand with their personal information.

One instant benefit is a reward or coupon. Dick’s Sporting Goods has provided members with a rich $10 reward as an incentive to take time to provide post-purchase feedback.

Sweepstakes entries, bonus points, bonus “plays,” or other rewards for profile completion are a tried-and-true staple that engages members and often results in conversion better than just a standard reminder. Starbucks is the queen of gamification—often using challenges and non-monetary rewards (like sweepstakes entries, “tickets” or “spins” to keep playing a game) to encourage participation.

3. Keep it relevant and fun

More than half of consumers have said they’re more likely to make a purchase or become loyal to a brand if the content is personalized.

DSW uses a simple brand quiz to interact with members and gather preferences when using the mobile app or shopping the website. This quiz also provides exposure to additional brands and inspiration, bringing more value to its members.

Direct-to-consumer shaving brand, Harry’s, uses a fun “scientific test” to determine the right scent for prospective body wash buyers on its website. This is a creative way to gain additional insight into interests, as well as to personalize future offerings or communications based on customer preferences.

4. Consider the occasion

Waiting to ask additional profiling questions until the time is right shows members you value their time and want to build their trust.

Concur, for example, used the New Year as a quick-hitting opportunity to collect data, with a pop-up “ping” asking customers to update their profile details.

And while its customers are researching on its website, Cars.com uses a brief, five-question survey to help personalize their experience (either online or at a dealership).

Engaging collection = rewarding data

According to Invesp, businesses that employ data-driven personalization delivered five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend. And using a combination of behavioral, transactional, and declared data allows you to create true, one-to-one experiences, so don’t forget to use the data that customers provide you.

Brands aren’t going to stop leveraging customer experience as a competitive advantage. Having an engaging, rewarding, and personalized data strategy in place for key customer touchpoints—such as when a new member joins a loyalty program, or when a customer has had the chance to try a new product—will continue to be invaluable.

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