It should come as no surprise to anyone — especially not to experienced marketers — that by knowing more about customers, their needs and what drives their buying decisions, brands can create stronger consumer connections and elevate sales.
But as new, privacy-focused laws and policies limit the effectiveness (and shelf lives) of widely used data-gathering tools such as cookies and third-party data tracking, forward-looking businesses are being forced to find new ways to gather their consumer intel. And the changing landscape is making zero-party data, an ages-old tool for driving more-informed business decisions, increasingly critical to the success of marketing campaigns everywhere.
An important consumer-provided asset
For marketers, zero-party data — information that consumers share with a brand willingly and proactively — is a particularly valuable source of information.
First, because customers are voluntarily (and directly) sharing this data, it tends to be more current and fresh than third-party data, which can often be outdated. In addition, because customers are sharing zero-party data purposefully and without a middle man, it’s more likely to be pertinent to their interests and needs. And once collected, this valuable information can be leveraged to enable added insights, guide brand messaging, fuel machine learning accuracy and boost predictive modeling efforts (among other things), and can ultimately drive a deeper understanding of consumers, along with stronger customer connections.
5 effective ways to collect and leverage zero-party data
So just how can your brand gather more zero-party data from its customers and prospects? Consider these five effective tactics for learning more about the people whose opinions and buying decisions can make or break the long-term success of your business:
Regulars on social media platforms have likely seen quiz-related posts more times than they care to count. And that’s because —from “What type of flower are you?” to “Which state should you live in?” … and plenty of options in between — when constructed correctly, quizzes can quickly catch consumers’ attention, and can even be fun to take and share.
Further, their allure extends well beyond social media. Consider this: The most-visited piece of New York Times content in 2013 wasn’t related to historic events such as President Obama’s inauguration, the Boston Marathon bombings or a prolonged U.S. government shutdown. Instead, it was a quiz about different dialects used throughout the United States.
For brands, quizzes can be used for sales-boosting purposes such as helping consumers decide on the best products/services for their needs. And by asking customers to answer a few questions about themselves before getting their quiz results, brands can also use quizzes to capture zero-party information.
Brandon pro tip: Some of the leading (and easiest-to use) tools for creating online quizzes that can also help your brand capture zero-party data include SurveyMonkey’s quiz maker, the ProProfs Quiz Maker, Microsoft Forms and brandquiz.
2. Post-purchase surveys
When a prospect turns into a paying customer — or when a past customer returns to buy another product or service from your brand — the post-purchase survey offers a great opportunity to gather added insights. These surveys can be used to find out what the customer liked (or disliked) about the offering, or what served to keep the repeat customer coming back. They can also provide valuable additional knowledge on things like purchase intent, brand perception and the customer experience. All of that is zero-party data that can be used to guide future decision-making for your brand, as well as to inform future communications with the specific customer.
In one specific example of insights gleaned via a post-purchase survey, one of Brandon’s successful lifestyle apparel clients discovered that many of its customers thought the pockets of its shorts were not deep enough. With one small design tweak, the shorts soon became the brand’s best-seller.
Brandon pro tip: To increase consumer completion of your brand’s post-purchase surveys, consider incentivizing responses by offering discount codes, gift cards, contest entries or other perks to those who fill out your survey forms.
Brands can use polls for decision-guiding purposes such as discovering what features consumers might prefer in a service or product, or finding out what date and/or activity would draw the most interest for a special event. And especially when conducted via social media or text messages, polling offers one of the lowest-effort ways for brands to get immediate feedback from their customers and followers. Further, by paying attention to individual participants’ responses when employing polls, brands can gather zero-party data about their preferences and style.
Brandon pro tip: To make polls especially easy to create and share on their platforms, social media networks Twitter, Instagram and Facebook offer built-in polling features for users.
4. Form building
Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to providing a range of their personal details when making a purchase, opening a new account with a business or registering to use a business’s services. And by employing forms (especially digital forms on their websites), brands can leverage this consumer willingness to provide such information to gather useful zero-party data from each of its new customers during account creation, or even from prospective customers making brand inquiries. Other opportunities to collect such data via online forms include during enrollment in customer loyalty programs, signup for email newsletters, registration for whitepaper downloads, the reservation process for online or in-person events, etc.
Brandon pro tip: Customer loyalty programs have become a great way to increase the lifetime value of a customer. At Brandon, we recently revamped a client’s loyalty programs with increased incentives and a more rewarding experience. This led to increases in the number of repeat online customers, as well as in the average shopping cart size per repeat customer.
Of course, few things hold more sway over the typical American consumer than the prospect of getting free stuff. And by running a contest, a brand can leverage this power to entice large numbers of consumers to provide their personal details in exchange for a chance to claim the big contest prize(s). Perhaps even better, such contests enable businesses to gather large quantities of zero-party data while building awareness about the brand and its offerings by spotlighting both among the things that the contest’s winner(s) will claim.
Brandon pro tip: By building mutually beneficial partnerships with other businesses to run a larger contest, a brand can greatly elevate the data-gathering success of its contest-creation efforts. Such co-promotions with other brands can serve to not only attract more contest entrants via a larger, more valuable pool of prizes, but they can also enable participating brands to share all of the zero-party data the larger contests collect. Further, the participating brands can often more effectively spread the word about the mutual contests by pooling their marketing resources/social media reaches.
A great example of such synergy can be seen in the Annual Waterfowl Giveaway hosted by Brandon client frogg toggs. This online sweepstakes featured a partnership between non-competitive brands such as Benelli, Realtree, Federal Ammunition, Yamaha, RNT Calls and other Brandon clients such as Williams Knife, Heybo Outdoors and FIREDISC. Through pop-ups, emails, lead ads and other promotions, this contest generated over 150,000 net new email addresses for the frogg toggs database (and those of the contest partners) for a fraction of the cost that they would have had to pay had they tried to do it alone.
No matter which route(s) your brand chooses for learning more about its customers, the team of data-driven marketing professionals and certified brand strategists at Brandon can help. We’ve got a wealth of experience setting up and implementing all of the information-gathering tools mentioned above (plus more), and we’re always eager to help our clients boost their consumer knowledge — and their bottom lines.
To get started with help ranging from a simple website form or social media poll to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all of your marketing efforts, contact us today.