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What Is Zero-Party Data and Why Is It Essential for Marketers Today?

What Is Zero-Party Data and Why Is It Essential for Marketers Today?

Marketers may be focusing their strategies on data more than before, but it isn’t necessarily at the best time. The data landscape now is completely shaken as browsers have made third-party cookies obsolete. Apple, too, has given its users the option to opt out of sharing IDFDs or IDs for advertising.

So, where can CMOs and CIOs get data to make campaign decisions? It’s commonly said that necessity is the mother of invention, and considering marketers needed customer intel urgently, they decided to take another approach: They asked the customer directly about their wants and preferences. But just because this approach sounds easy, doesn’t mean it is in practice. 

The increased risk of data breaches and information misuse has made customers skeptical about how their data is being used. Plus, companies also need to ensure they are in compliance with infosec laws and regulations.

In this article, we’ll focus on how zero-party data could be useful to CMOs and CIOs to collect customer intel in a way that respects their privacy without breaking the law, along with how marketers can actually benefit from zero-party data. 

What is zero-party data?

Zero-party data is customer-owned data that is shared with a company or brand the customer trusts. It can also be very comprehensive and include specific data points, such as purchase intentions or preference data.

From the consumer's point of view, zero-party data is highly favorable since it allows them to maintain control over how the data is handled throughout their interactions with a specific brand. Moreover, they have the power to revoke access or edit any content in the data at will.

While there’s no doubt that companies are doing their best to boost security levels by using testing tools like SAST and DAST in a bid to create multilayer security and eliminate vulnerabilities, customers still want more reassurance before sharing their data.

The good thing about zero-party data is it fulfills the customer’s desire for personalization and places total control in their hands. And the benefits aren’t restricted to customers only. Even companies get better insights into the target audience’s interest, needs, and intent – something that first-party data doesn’t completely cover. 

Furthermore, this approach allows brands to develop and nurture direct relationships with customers, which, in turn, helps them improve their marketing efforts, products and services, and offers. We'll discuss this in greater detail later on in the article.

How is zero-party data different from other data types?

In addition to zero-party data, you must be familiar with other types of data as well.

First-party data is the type of data owned by the company. It's generated when your company interacts with your target audience and customers. It's also why the data is governed by your own privacy policies. Right now, 74% of businesses are actively involved in digitally transforming their businesses, and this transformation is driven by first-party data. The most common examples of first-party data that usually prove to be the most useful to businesses to boost their marketing efforts include the customer's date of birth, purchase history, loyalty program activity, and so on.

Second-party data is data that is shared businesses, which is why it’s governed by a shared set of policies and protocols. Often shared in aggregate or anonymized, this type of data includes product preferences and web cookies.

Lastly, third-party data is inferred data since it’s based on inferences about customer intentions and interests. Examples of this data type are mostly related to psychographic and demographic customer segmentation, such as household income, social media likes, and purchase preferences.

When you compare these examples with that of zero-party data, you'll realize the main difference between the data types is that zero-party data has the customers’ explicit permission, while the others don't. 

Why has zero-party data become so relevant in a post-GDPR world?

You know that data breaches aren't good for your company's reputation, but have you ever stopped to wonder the full extent of its consequences – both long-term and short-term?

After getting access to your sensitive information, malicious hackers may try to extort you out of money. They may also sell your private data to others.

But it doesn’t end there, since you may severely lose your customers’ trust. Since 2018, from the time GDPR was introduced, nearly 59,000 data breaches have been reported. Among these numbers, there are several high-profile cases like Marriott International, British Airways, and Google where companies were levied record-setting fines.

As a result, there was a lot of pressure on marketers to avoid using first- and third-party data, which are mostly unreliable since they chiefly come from unrelated sources and can become quickly outdated. Why do marketers need zero-party data to enhance their marketing strategies?

The concept of zero-party data may seem intimidating at first, but it can actually be useful for marketers, provided they know how to leverage it properly. You see, one of the best ways right now for businesses to protect themselves from paying heavy fines is getting explicit opt-in data. This is something that zero-party data assures. Let’s view things from a customer’s viewpoint.

Whenever a customer provides you with their contact information or email address, it’s because they expect something valuable in return. This value exchange can include a limited period offer or a trial or demo of your product or service. Additionally, they most certainly don’t expect their information to be misused.

The first thing that you need to do is get a secure website. You can use platforms like WordPress or Wix that offer high-security features for safer transactions like vulnerability scanning tools, and PCI DSS certification for safe checkouts. SSL/TLS encryption is also a must. Advertise these security measures so customers feel more comfortable purchasing from your website in the first place. 

The second thing is implementing zero-party data. This will transfer the control to the customer’s hands, who can then tell you what they’re interested in. You can use these insights to strategize more effectively as well as develop better products or services that tend to your target customers’ needs more efficiently. 

Just think about it: isn’t the whole point of collecting data to know your customers’ preferences better?

Conclusion

There is no doubt that zero-party data is the future, but most organizations are still using a combination of first-party, second-party, and third-party data to create the most perfect strategy that helps them reach their business goals. Just make sure you’re not compromising on your customer's trust.

With the world still adapting to digitization, things can definitely be chaotic. But you should do your best to comply with the various privacy laws, especially in the post-GDPR world. Try to leverage the strengths of each type of data and use them as and when required. At the same time, don't forget to make sure you don’t misguide your customers or misuse their data without defamation. Trust us, it won’t go well in the end.

Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.

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