By Jeff Jarvis
Consumers have a larger voice today, powered by a plethora of information sources and endless opportunities to voice their opinion on social media. As a result, modern businesses and their marketing arms realize they need more customer-centric approaches that foster more direct relationships through engagement and more personalized experiences.
In order to accomplish this, businesses need a more direct pathway and visibility into each and every individual customer’s behaviors, needs, and preferences. Organizations have traditionally relied on third-party data to reach their customers, but changing regulations and the realization that this type of data cannot provide the reliable insight into personalized preferences has left businesses looking for new and better options.
Businesses are now building strategies to collect this personalized data through direct interactions with their customers, known as zero-party data or explicit first-party data. As a result, this process will result in greater trust between the customer and business and will foster more longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.
Customers are willing to share personalized data with companies they trust
For many years, businesses preferred the use of third-party data because they thought it was a more expedient and efficient way to reach consumers. However, consumers have demonstrated their willingness to provide personal information with businesses they perceive as trustworthy. This means that trust has become a leading business strategy for today’s modern businesses.
Companies that establish a distinct line of trust with their customers will be able to collect highly personalized, unique information on each customer, and will build their own datasets for each customer – rendering their outdated third-party datasets useless or at best secondary to zero-party data. These modern businesses will quickly realize they have a clear competitive advantage within the markets they serve.
Companies have been their own worst enemy
There are a handful of reasons why this shift is taking place. As a result of hundreds of data breaches that have plagued businesses of every size, customers have become weary of the way in which companies use and mishandle their personal data. This has led to stricter regulations, such as the EU’s GDPR, California’s CCPA and many more, that impact how businesses are allowed to use their customers’ data. Many leading companies are now taking measures to change the way in which customer data can be collected, utilized and shared.
This has resulted in drastic changes in data privacy, a byproduct of which includes, companies building more personalized relationships with their customers in the name of trust.
What is zero-party data and how can companies collect this info
Especially driven by today’s e-commerce and mobile device landscape, the most valuable data a modern marketer or business can have comes directly from customers themselves. Personalized information shared directly from a customer to an organization is referred to as “Zero-Party” data.
Zero-party data is highly personalized insight a customer intentionally, directly, and proactively provides to a brand because they have built a level of trust with that company. This personalized insight may include preferences, insights, profile data or consents, and how the individual wants the business to engage them.
What’s in it for the customer?
Why are customers willing to share such personal and private details with companies? Because it results in a better, more personalized experience with a brand. Think of a beauty products maker that can send emails, texts, and promotions that speak directly to the unique needs of a customer who has specific allergic sensitivities to his or her skin. These types of modern marketing promotions illustrate to the customer that the company is truly listening to their needs, and in return that customer will show a higher level of engagement to the marketing messages. Like a snowball rolling downhill, once this company can demonstrate they are truly listening to this customer’s unique needs, the customer builds trust with the company and is willing to continue sharing even more of their data over time.
Customers become more satisfied because the brand is doing a much better job of meeting their needs, and they reward the brand with loyalty, advocacy, and bigger purchases. Each time there is a successful data-value exchange between the business and customer, it positively reinforces the relationship and incrementally strengthens customer trust which increases their propensity to share more data. And the cycle continues.
These modern brands recognize the powerful voice customers now have today. They also recognize the quickly changing regulatory environment and are rapidly adapting to the new ways of customer engagement through trust and personalization. These modern brands will take a leadership position – no matter the size of their company – and shape the way entire omnichannel-driven industries operate in the future.
About the Author
As PossibleNOW’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Consulting, Jeff provides thought leadership related to the deployment and utilization of zero-party data (customer consents, preferences, and insights). He handles executive management responsibilities for pre-sales, strategic consulting, and implementation services. He helps customers identify pain points, craft solutions unique to their needs, and provides guidance across the implementation and assessment processes.
Jeff has a broad and extensive background in domestic and international business environments across myriad industries. He has held executive positions with FreebeePay, Agentek, SupportSoft, and CoreNetworks and management positions with Mosaix, Sequent Computer and IBM, helping companies drive business growth, develop high-performance sales and service organizations and implement process best practices.