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What Is Zero-Party Data & Can It Help Drive Customer Success?

Sydney Headshots; Daniel Sommer Photography; Sydney Headshot Photographer; Daniel Sommer
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In his latest guest post for B&T, Billy Loizou (main photo), Cheetah Digital’s VP go to market APAC, talks zero-party data and says it’s “rocket fuel” for any marketer…

The new era of privacy has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to build and maintain trusted relationships with consumers. One key consequence of privacy regulations sweeping the globe — coupled with progressively data-conscious consumers — is the move away from third-party data sets and cookie tracking to power marketing initiatives.

It is possible for marketers to know what customers intend to do or buy in the future by collecting data that is intentionally and proactively shared directly by the consumer. This class of declared data is called zero-party data  — and it’s rocket fuel for your marketing.

During a panel at Cheetah Digital’s annual Signals21 event, leading industry experts sat down and discussed the importance of zero-party data in an organisation, and how it builds crucial relationships between customers and brands.

The panellists included:

  • Richard Jones, CMO at Cheetah Digital,
  • Nick Watson, SVP Global Experiences Solutions at Cheetah Digital, and
  • Adam Rutzler, Senior Campaign and Insight Manager at Arsenal FC

Zero-party Data 101

Zero party data is a form of self-reported data a consumer willingly and actively provides a brand in exchange, often for some sort of value, whether it might be a recommendation or a price.

“That data is captured with all of the necessary marketing opt-ins and preferences, which is about someone’s personal preferences, psychographic data, and demographic data,” Nick Watson, SVP Global Experiences Solutions at Cheetah Digital, says.

Marketers are constantly trying to balance personalisation and personalised experiences without breaching consumer privacy. Richard explains zero-party data is being touted as the solution to that problem.

“It is not only data that is willingly and transparently shared to you as a consumer, but it is also fantastic for driving personalised experiences,” Richard Jones, CMO at Cheetah Digital adds.

Instead of marketers “digging through the trash” trying to get personal information, they can simply ask their customers about their likes and dislikes.

“Zero-party data is consumers directly telling marketers about their motivations, desires, interests and preferences. But it’s also an invaluable tool for surviving the death of the third-party cookie,” Richard notes.

Nick agrees, highlighting how brands have been using third-party cookie data to reach the same people. However, with a zero-party data strategy, marketers have the ability to find the right people at the right time.

“This allows you to develop content that will resonate with them. If it relates to something they told you, they’re more likely to click on the email or to react to the particular piece of personalisation on your site,” Nick says.

Collecting Zero-Party Data

At every point, marketers should be collecting data to acquire new people on their lists, but they should also be collecting data on their current database. Nick says marketers should be collecting data as a part of a loyalty program to drive an emotional connection with their consumers and make them more loyal.

“It should be across the entire customer lifecycle, and importantly, should be across every channel as well. Think about your social channels, and see them as opportunities to collect data off the back of your social ad spend, on your website, and inside your app.

“There are so many different places to collect data, and often they’re missed opportunities that brands don’t even try,” Nick explains.

Marketers need to be collecting zero-party data as the ”modern preference centre” and should initially consider all relevant customer journeys.

“By collecting data about someone early on in the relationship, where perhaps they’ve just signed up and haven’t even bought a product, you know nothing about them. But you could ask them questions and use that to drive them to a first purchase.

“In doing so, you’re getting that preference information. For example, we know for a fact that when people aren’t clicking through to preference centres, they’re not engaging, hence the preferences are not dynamic in any way, shape, or form. This means marketers are not getting the data they want to segment their consumers and are losing the opportunity to better market to them and to improve personalisation of their marketing,” Nick adds.

Some marketers do have concerns over the scalability of zero-party data, however, Richard believes there is nothing to be worried about.

“Cheetah Digital collects about 750 million net new names into the database of our customers every year. When you consider all the data points we collect through these interactive experiences delivered from Cheetah experiences, we’re talking about billions of data points a year in terms of zero-party data points. So you can absolutely do this at scale,” he says.

Real-life examples: Arsenal Football Club

Arsenal Football Club began its digital journey ten years ago with a significant investment in CRM. Adam Rutzler, Senior Campaign and Insight Manager at Arsenal FC says the club uses the Cheetah Digital Messenger Suite to help optimise fan engagement at scale.

Adam says Arsenal has digital tracking platforms to track across their website, app and digital state to make sure the club is collecting rich behavioural data of their fans.

“Most recently, we’ve built a loyalty program for our UK members which provides value for our fans, and ensures another rich pool of data that we can collect,” Adam explains.

The new loyalty initiative is called ‘My Arsenal Reward’ and was launched for the 2021/2022 season. Adam says the club wanted to create an initiative that engaged fans and gave back to them.

“We created a program which is by the fans for the fans. We engaged with our fans, we listened to them, we helped fans forums, so that we understand their pain points and how they want their loyalty recognised. Simple things like rewarding points to fans who buy a membership, purchase tickets, attend matches, so that they can redeem these points against ‘money can’t buy experiences’,” Adam adds.

Some of these ‘money can’t buy experiences’ include attending a press conference run by head coach Mikel Arteta and having the opportunity to ask him a question, or watch the players train and have lunch with them afterwards.

To leverage their data and give their fans a personalised experience, over the years Arsenal has focused across the spectrum of first-party data. Adam says, “We built our CRM and have transactional data. We invested heavily in our digital architecture, understanding how our fans engaged with our digital platform. Stepping into third party data, we do a fair amount of appending of external data and building out some robust UK based and international persona work. Finally, the likes of future experiences and surveys gives us that important zero party data.”

Leveraging that data plays out across all Arsenal campaign touchpoints which includes email, push notifications, web and paid social. Adam highlights how the objective for the club is relevance.

“Whether that is content we show our fans, the type of campaign, the type of offer, or even the partner that we put in front of our fans. When you get to have 30 to 35 commercial partners, as well as different products and services you offer as a club, it can quickly become overwhelming for fans.

“Making sure we use the data we collect to ensure the relevance and value add to the fan’s experience is fundamental for us. We try to collect strategic data and then plan on how we’re going to use it,” Adam says.

What Adam has seen in the past is organisations that collect data and six months down the track begin to plan how to use it.

“Thinking two steps ahead to make sure you’ve got a plan for how you’re going to be relevant and how you’re going to add that value is key across all touchpoints for us,” Adam notes.

Zero to Hero

There are so many additional and exciting business benefits businesses can reap by implementing a smart zero-party data strategy. By building engaging data capture experiences, organisations can positively impact their sales revenue, hit their engagement stats and make their customers more loyal.

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