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Jun 2, 2023

First-Party Data: Transforming Insights into Action

In the IDC FutureScape “Future of Customers and Consumers” survey, brands were asked at which part of a customer journey do they collect the most data to help shape customer experience. Not surprisingly, most data are collected after a brand has established a relationship with a customer (i.e., customer support, loyalty programs, renewals, etc.). Yet asked which data provides the most value in terms of driving loyalty, lifetime value and profit, customer support polled last. Instead, the most value was seen in collecting data before a brand has established a relationship with a customer (before/during advertising process, during sales process).

The lesson learned for marketers is that to continually improve customer experience through personalization, it is important to take into account all data, even if you’re not certain of the immediate payoff. Like a dogged detective leaving no stone unturned at a crime scene, a marketer may not know what “evidence” will lead to a better CX, so the wisest course of action is to collect it all.

The leave no stone unturned approach has always been prudent, but is particularly important now for two reasons. First, with the third-party cookie’s demise marketers will lose a favored, if flawed, method for attaching signals to a customer. Second, the need to gather as much first-party data as possible is heightened due to the increasing complexity of omnichannel customer journeys, and the resulting expectation from customers for brands to know them as the same customer across all channels.

According to SmarterIQ, 72 percent of consumers will only engage with marketing that is tailored to their interests. That depends on a brand knowing everything there is to know about a customer, and demonstrating a deep understanding with consistent messaging across channels.

Omnichannel Orchestration

The traditional method of gathering first-party data – gather only what you need (or think you’ll need) – may have sufficed in a product-centric or channel-centric approach to marketing, but not with omnichannel. The main reason for this is because an omnichannel CX is like a mosaic that stitches together various elements into a complete picture. It may not be readily apparent to a marketer how data from one channel ties to data from another channel, which is why it is necessary to collect everything. Over time – whether it’s a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a year or longer – how those various elements fit together may make themselves known, thus enriching the customer Golden Record and delivering an even more personalized experience across the omnichannel journey.

As potential signals of customer intent, all customer data are essential inputs into the analytics that will ultimately power better engagement.

Just like holding onto browsing session data from an anonymous device ID in the event a match is made to a known record, perhaps notes from a call center engagement will be useful for providing a more relevant, personalized experience when the same customer initiates a return. Capturing first-party data at a granular level and in a unified way reveals more than an identity, it reveals how a person engages, when the person engages, the content and/or topics they’re engaging with – when does the customer read emails, how many curbside pickups does the customer schedule vs. an in-store visit?

As potential signals of customer intent, all customer data are essential inputs into the analytics that will ultimately power better engagement. By capturing everything, you’re drawing insights which will support better, more targeted and more productive engagement over time, allowing you to capture more information in a closed loop cycle of data, insight and action.

Get on Board the First-Party Data Train

The good news for marketers and other business users of customer data is that as it’s becoming more important to collect first-party data, it’s also becoming easier. The mass adoption of data clouds in a composable cloud data architecture democratizes data engineering and creates an inexpensive way to manage and deliver data across the enterprise. This type of open data environment encourages a bring-your-own-analytics (models) approach, which supercharges the closed loop of data, insight and action to perpetually enhance CX. Without being locked into one data model (or vendor), organizations are free to cast a wider net for collecting more data, for running more or different models and to draw entirely new inferences than they might in a walled garden environment.

To summarize, with technology making it easier and less expensive to collect and analyze first-party data, combined with heightened customer expectations for personalized experiences across omnichannel journeys, now is the time for organizations to finally embrace a true customer-centric strategy centered around first-party data.

Steve Zisk 2022 Scaled

Vin DelGuercio

Vice President Platform Best Practice Redpoint Global

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