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Strategies for Increasing First-Party Data

Ashlee asks, “What are some strategies for increasing first-party data?”

Let’s recall that first-party data is data given to us by prospective customers, and comes in two flavors. Passive first-party data is data collected by tools like Google Analytics and our email marketing software – when a user does something, these tools measure the actions users take with our stuff and provide that data to us.

Active first-party data is when a user actively gives us data, such as filling out a form, contacting us, requesting a phone call or a demo, or other actions where they voluntarily provide more information to us.

Value Exchange

As marketers, we need to remember that data exchange is a transaction. No one today gives away their data for free; there is always some implied or express exchange of value.

Prospective customers are generally neither naive nor stupid. They know the moment they hit submit on an online form, there’s a strong probability that they’ll start receiving sales calls and emails if they’ve submitted a phone number or email address. One of the reasons services like Apple’s Hide My Email and other burner email services are so popular is that it lets customers reduce the value of what they’re exchanging. They know they can use a burner email to get value while giving less of it to marketers.

The question we have to ask ourselves always is whether we’re providing value equal to or greater than the value we’re asking. If you’re not earning enough first-party data (or you’re getting intentionally bad data), you’re probably asking for more value than you’re providing.

Data Reduction

The second question we need to ask ourselves is, what data do we really need? What will we be using, and how will we be using it?

We often collect more data than we need, more data than we’re willing to act on. For example, suppose you collect first name, last name, and email address. If none of your email marketing ever uses personalization, then do you really need the person’s name?

The more we reduce the data we collect to the bare essentials, the more we’ll encourage users to trade data with us. No one wants to fill out a form online with 37 fields. Which leads to…

Friction Reduction

The final barrier to first-party data collection, especially active first-party data, is reducing the difficulty of someone giving us information. As with the forms and simply collecting less data (thus speeding the process), anything we can do to ease the burden of giving us data will increase what we collect.

The key question we need to ask is, what could we do to make the user experience faster and easier?

For example, if our user experience is terrible, that creates friction in the process, increasing the likelihood that someone simply won’t submit data.

Or, alternatively, if we have social sign-on integrated where the customer can use their Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. IDs to fill out the form, that reduces friction by giving them less to do, especially on mobile devices.

Companies like Amazon spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours on user testing and optimization to remove as much friction from the purchase process as possible. Recall from the first point that obtaining user data is a trade, a form of purchase. Thus, if we apply the same principles of purchase optimization to our data collection and streamline it as much as possible, we’ll achieve better results.

Data Exchange Is A Purchase

Think of data exchange as a purchase, and suddenly ways to increase it become clear and straightforward. You increase purchases of any product by making purchasing easier (eliminating friction), by increasing the value of the purchase (what the buyer gets), and by decreasing the price of the purchase (how much data you collect). Do any one of those things and you’ll improve your marketing results.


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