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Zero to Hero: Practical Tips for Collecting High Quality Zero Party Data

Nov 24, 2021

Zero to Hero: Practical Tips for Collecting High Quality Zero Party Data

Matt Goodman

Co-founder, CEO

It’s time to zero in on zero party. Is your brand ready?

The marketing landscape is shifting, and consumer expectations continue to rise when it comes to providing a personalized, hyper relevant experience.

If you’re working within ecommerce and looking to deliver a truly tailored pathway to purchase, now is the time to get wise to the power and potential of zero-party data, and figure out how your brand is going to capture, interpret and put it to best use.

This article will provide plenty of practical tips and inspiration for gathering zero-party data.

What is Zero-Party Data?

What exactly is zero-party data? In simple terms, it’s data that customers choose to provide to businesses.

Unlike first-party data (which is often gained through the passive monitoring of customer behavior), zero-party data is actively offered up by customers. It’s extra information about a customer that’s collected through many channels as a way to enhance the customer’s experience.

A customer’s saved wish list. Answers to a quiz. Demographic information that’s submitted with a review. These are all forms of zero-party data.

Why is Zero-Party Data So Important?

Zero-party data represents an exciting opportunity for online retailers for many reasons. For starters, it offers unparalleled insight into customers — their likes, habits, wishes and wants.

More and more customers understand how online personalization works. As a result, they’re increasingly willing to give a conscious steer to the brands that they know and love — in return for a more relevant experience.

Besides personalization, zero-party data offers a safe, secure source of information that can be collected and leveraged in-house. As privacy laws tighten and the sunsetting of third-party cookies, zero-party data helps marketing departments to take back control of their campaigns.

5 Effective Sources of Zero Party Data

1. The Onboarding Process

Welcoming a new customer can be a great opportunity to collect zero-party data as levels of interest and willingness to engage are high. The customer is likely to be happy to provide a certain level of additional information about themselves, in order to personalize their experience from the outset of their interaction.

Brands have the perfect opportunity to request zero-party data from shoppers when they are creating a customer account. Add carefully considered questions to your standard signup form. Make these extra fields optional (but add persuasive copy to encourage engagement). You need to make sure that the signup process doesn’t require too much extra effort.

Apparel and food brands, in particular, can gather really insightful data this way. Users can submit specific information about themselves (style preferences, body type, dietary preferences, allergies, etc). With this data, brands can create more relevant, personalized views of their stores, as well as better navigation, targeted promotions, and segmented marketing campaigns.

2. Social Media

Consumers engage with brands on social media in many ways – commenting on their images, tagging themselves using products, or visiting physical stores.

Brands can gather a huge amount of insight into their customers on social media by providing entertaining or thought-provoking opportunities to engage with them. The key to success here is finding the balance between fun and function — content needs to feel authentic, on-brand, and not a deliberate “fishing expedition.”

Polls, question boxes, contests, and live sessions are great ways to discover what’s making your customers tick. Group chats can create instant sounding boards for ideas as well as social listening. Similarly, AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) sessions can give an eye-opening deep dive into what’s concerning or exciting your shoppers.

When it comes to the verticals with the most to gain from social media, the scope is very broad. Any sector can gather zero-party data using its social platforms. The key to success, however, is leveraging the platforms your target audience is using and focusing your efforts there.

3. Reviews

Reviews can be a fantastic source of zero-party data. Why? Because they shine a bright light on the individual attributes of your customers.

What kind of zero-party data can reviews provide? For a start, they can help you identify your “superfan” brand advocates. Pay attention to ratings and frequency of review submission, and you’ll spot the customers who are deeply invested in your brand. From there, you can segment them for appropriate attention.

Reviews can also help you get to know your customers on a much more personal level, especially when you work with a reviewing platform like Okendo, which offers Attributes – a powerful feature that enables your customers to add specific additional information relating to their demographics, lifestyle and behavior to the reviews they submit.

For example, if a customer reviews a new shampoo bar, they can specify their hair type. If they provide feedback on a specific brand of dog treats, they can add information about their puppy’s age and breed. Not only does this information provide helpful context for other curious customers trying to make up their minds about a purchase, but it also gives brands the opportunity to apply some very precise segmentation and deliver outstanding levels of personalization.

By gaining a deeper knowledge of personal requirements or challenges, brands can deliver a more relevant offering to customers.

4. Personal Quizzes

Whenever and wherever we shop, shoppers want items that are a good fit for them (in every sense of the phrase!) Many brands struggle to help their customers feel this level of confidence when browsing, so personal quizzes are a great way to provide some reassurance.

Quizzes can take many forms and can range from the very intentional (“Discover which of our dishwashers is right for your family by answering these five quick questions…”) to the more general (“Cosy, Chic or Cottagecore – take our quick quiz to define your Fall style!”) When well-designed and carefully phrased, quizzes of this type are highly engaging and can provide real first-hand help to your customers. They can also be a goldmine of zero-party data. Quizzes can help you gain knowledge in almost any area when you focus on what the goal is that you’re trying to achieve.

Direct to consumer brands stand to gain a lot from this method of data collection. Medicated skin care, blended foundations, or custom hair care products often make exemplary use of these kinds of quizzes in order to recommend and sell the “perfect” product — this is extreme personalization, and it can be highly effective.

5. Loyalty Schemes

Many online brands are already wise to the fact that loyalty schemes drive repeat business, but they also provide a unique opportunity to gather valuable zero-party data.

Structure your loyalty program in such a way that you reward members not only for shopping with you, but also for engaging in other ways. For instance, a footwear brand could gift customers who provide additional personal information a pedometer app. Similarly, brands can award extra loyalty points to customers who include personal attributes when submitting their product reviews.

You can also learn a lot about customers by letting them tailor their own loyalty experience. Let members choose their own rewards, and select certain preferences, for example, the type of discounts that they’re offered. This particular tactic is often seen with supermarkets, giving their members unique discounts in specific departments, depending on their preferences.

Keeping Things Transparent

Zero-party data represents a real opportunity for ecommerce brands to up their game in the customer experience stakes. However, the recent increased focus on consumer data privacy means that customers demand ethical, transparent handling of data.

Generally, shoppers are happy to hand over personal data – when they trust that it is safe with a brand, and they know that they will receive some kind of perceived benefit as a result of the exchange. Whether this is a discount, preferential access to products, or simply a more relevant, personalized shopping experience – it’s vitally important that online retailers are upfront and honest about the exchange that’s taking place.

Zero-party data, although given willingly, still needs to be handled with respect and care. Make sure that you’re clearly communicating how you use the data you’re collecting. Pay particular attention to your store’s privacy policy — it needs to be user-friendly and easy to interpret. After all, consumers can only happily consent to share zero-party data if they have a complete understanding of what it’s being used for.

The Importance of Allowing Updates to Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data has the potential to shape customer experience – but this can be a double-edged sword if brands don’t keep on top of keeping their sources current and up to date. Consumers’ preferences, circumstances, and habits change. If you’re still curating their experience based on old data, at the very best, you’re adding nothing – and at worst, you’re actively making it worse.

You’re collecting zero-party data because you care about giving your customers relevant messaging, promotions, and interfaces. Prove this to them by making sure you regularly revisit and refresh your sources. Give them a chance to actively update their preferences themselves, should they choose to.

Get Ready to Reset to Zero

Ecommerce is facing a lot of significant data changes, but with this change comes a chance for brands to get closer to their customers in a creative, ethical way.

Now’s the time to take stock of the existing opportunities your business has to collect this valuable form of data — renew and refresh engagement and relationships with existing customers, and you’ll be doubling down on the type of personalized experience that customers crave.

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