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Starve the Cookie Monster: How to Leverage Zero-Party Data in Your Digital Strategy


These small abbreviations have big repercussions for marketers and web publishers. The General Data Protection Regulation, California Consumer Privacy Act, the Identifier for Advertisers, and many other regulations require companies to use cookies (a small piece of identifying data that tracks your internet usage) to obtain clearly-expressed consent to collect your data and activity.

If you’ve been around the block, you’ve undoubtedly heard these terms thrown around between giant social media corporations, government agencies, and marketers alike. It’s why you’ve noticed that most popular websites encourage you to “accept cookies” upon entering. However, with all the buzz, it’s easy to misinterpret what these policies mean for real world application for the average user or business owner.

Enter zero-party data. In fact, 25% of CMOs plan to implement zero-party data strategies in 2021. Why? Because it’s the future of personalized data collection and connection with consumers.

What is Zero-Party Data?

Zero-party data is information that is intentionally and purposely shared by consumers with a company. To better understand zero-party, let’s take a look at the other forms of data collection, so we can compare.

  • First-party: Also known as “owned data,” this information is collected from websites or mobile apps. For instance, sharing geographical location and time zones to make appointment bookings easier. This is the most readily available type of data for all business owners.
  • Second-party: Second-party data usually refers to purchasing or sharing data. Remember when you’d land on a mailing list for something you didn’t sign up for? It’s like that, only digital.
  • Third-party: This is the big kahuna that’s been causing controversy in the last few years. Third-party cookie tracking collects behavioral, advertising, and browsing data. This is commonly seen in practice on social media or in mobile app advertising. For example, after being provided demographics of a particular user, ads can target someone who’s male, married, and a homeowner who lives in South Carolina.
  • Zero-party: The belle of the ball. Personalized data directly provided by consumers. Earning zero-party data typically requires incentivizing customers to share this information in exchange for something of value.

So What Does This Mean?

More social and search platforms require stringent compliance for data collection. Apple’s new iOS 14.5 policies allow users to stop brands from tracking them for ad serving purposes (and most are taking Apple up on that offer). Brands have to pivot and lessen their reliance upon third-party obtained data. 

So how do digital marketers make it happen?

Since customers are more wary of how their data and online activity is being used than ever before (and understandably so!), it’s critical to make explicit consent from the user as seamless and incentivizing as possible. 

Make it fun, or make it rewarding.

Zero-Party Data Collection Ideas For Your Brand

A reported 55% of consumers would happily share data directly to a brand in return for value. Take the guesswork out of it with these methods that activate your audience and provide valuable insight into what strategies are most effective.

Loyalty programs are a great place to start. 44% of consumers in the United States are members of four or more brand loyalty programs. There’s a huge opportunity for brands to exchange data for exclusive benefits such as discounts and first-look product launches.

In return, you’ll be rewarded with willing participants who are happy to provide more data including contact details, shopping preferences, product selections, location, and more.

Content gamification. Consider your customers as your community. To motivate them, you should consider using content interactively, such as gamification. Adding elements of game playing to the consuming of content (e.g., awarding points for pages or videos viewed) makes it more fun and compelling. It rewards your community for choosing to participate and provide insights.

For B2B customers, informative and interactive infographics, white papers as a lead magnet, and downloadable e-books are examples of super useful content that can tempt a user to share their contact information. Compare this to a random popup form, which can seem untrustworthy or spammy and provides little immediate value.

Quizzes and polls. People like to make their voices heard. A quiz or poll is a simple way to help aggregate which products, content, or services your audience is most interested in and what they’ll spend their money on. This saves you precious time and money you’d otherwise spend analyzing abstract metrics.

If you prefer to gain more in-depth insight about your audience and their preferences, a personality questionnaire may be your best bet. Upon completion, your brand can upsell them on products recommended specifically by their responses. What’s that sound? It’s the sound of a win/win/win. You gain actionable feedback, the customer feels heard, and you’ve got a potential sale in the making.

Social media polls and inquiries can result in rich engagement and enlightening answers about what sets your customers on fire when it comes to what they’re seeking from your brand.

    • Using an Instagram Poll can provide you more insights into a customer’s preference and style between two different options. Ending after 24 hours, this is one of the fastest ways to get answers.
    • Twitter Polls are excellent for brands with a large enough following. A Twitter Poll’s lifespan is between five minutes and seven days, and allows for up to four options to select. These wider parameters provide a more enriching experience.
    • Facebook comments, although not geared toward automatic aggregation, are rich with detail. If your brand asks for feedback, direction, critique, or praise, this is the place you’ll receive the lion’s share. Review the comments holistically and put the consensus into practice. As the age old adage goes, Give the people what they want.

Your Turn: Start Leveraging Zero-Party Data

By offering exclusive promotions, discounts, or other incentives in return for audience information, you’re on the path to a successful zero-party data collection strategy. This in turn will improve the quality of the customer experience. Ultimately, those digital regulations (and their confounding abbreviations) can spell a big win for both you and your customers.

If you’d rather have the pros handle your community management and social media efforts, contact ModSquad for a personal consultation.

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Talk Back

Posted on May 18, 2021

Awesome! Thank you

Posted on May 18, 2021

Awesome! Thank you, Chelse

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