While the deadline to the biggest search engine, Google Chrome, phasing out valuable third-party cookies continues to be extended (latest estimate appears to be the end of 2024), businesses improving their first-party data collection remains a priority.

Knowing more about consumers as they navigate a brand’s website or assets has become de rigueur as companies gradually forgo tracking their digital journey across multiple sites.

A recent Statista report concluded that, “During a 2022 survey carried out among business managers and above, 37% stated their brands used exclusively first-party data to personalise customer experiences. A year earlier, the share stood at 31%.”

We once again reached out to our marketing community for some practical advice on growing first-party data with value exchange, personalisation and referrals the focus.

Justin Donne, entrepreneur and former actor: “Encourage users to share their information.”

Offer value in exchange for data: Many businesses offer incentives such as discounts, exclusive content, or personalised recommendations in exchange for user data. This not only encourages users to share their information but also builds trust with the brand.

Optimise website forms: Forms are a key touchpoint for collecting user data. Optimising forms by reducing the number of fields, making them mobile-friendly, and adding progress indicators can improve completion rates.

Leverage social media: Social media platforms can be a great source of first-party data. Businesses can use social media to run contests and giveaways.

Use offline channels: While digital channels are important, businesses can also collect first-party data through offline channels such as events, in-store sign ups, and customer feedback forms.”

Dr Maurice Duffy, leading business coach: “Reciprocity is vital.”

“In my experience of managing 20,000 sales people or providing sales training at organisations such as Google, I constantly say that you cannot ‘sell unless you can buy’ and that is why data is critical in understanding the buying mind.

“Reciprocity is vital. Consumers need to see a clear link between the personal information they’ve shared with you and the value they get back. It is critical that you maintain commitment and consistency because research shows that if people commit to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honour that commitment, even if it no longer makes sense.

“Also be inclusive of social proof and liking – people will do things they see other people doing.”

Rachel Thornton, CMO at MessageBird: ‘Try conversational commerce.’

“Customers will reward brands by sharing data if those brands provide them with great experiences. Conversational commerce can be a powerful tool to create them and to grow first-party data, as it is a way to engage customers in personalised and interactive conversations.

“By engaging with customers in real-time, you can gain valuable insights into their needs, preferences, and pain points – and this information can be used to improve your products, services, and overall customer experience.

“Not only this, but when the customer has an instant answer to their query, confidence is being built in the brand, which only increases the likelihood they will make a purchase.”

Georgia Harrison, VP of customer success, EMEA at Braze: ‘It’s important to be transparent.’

“Growing first-party data starts with building trust and delivering value to customers. This is done by offering customers a clear value proposition in exchange for their data, such as exclusive content, discounts, or personalised recommendations. It’s also important to ensure that data collection is transparent, customers can easily opt-in or out, and they have control over how their data is used.

“Additionally, businesses can cultivate their existing first-party data to gather explicit insights with surveys and targeted messaging through inferred interest, such as content engagement that resonates with their audience.

“Data from the 2023 Braze Customer Engagement Review shows that 80% of EMEA-based companies surveyed say they are collecting too much data, resulting in information they can’t use effectively. Therefore, businesses don’t always need more data, but instead, they need to understand and leverage their data better.”

Jochen Toepfer, SVP of professional services EMEA at Acxiom: ‘Collect real time insights.’

“One way to achieve this [first-party data growth] is by having the right customer data platform in place that will enable business leaders to collect real time insights, update personalised customer profiles and activate personalised messages across channels. Alongside this, the use of first-party tags on the brand’s content across both owned and paid media means marketeers can continue to understand what is working and offer a differentiated consumer experience.

“By building and maintaining their own first-party datasets, brands can leverage data assets and brand experiences with far more control than ever before.”

Andy Cockburn, CEO and founder of Mention Me: ‘Referrals can be extremely valuable.’

“Instead of seeking out new customers at any cost, turn to your existing ones. Gartner research shows 80% of your future profits come from just 20% of your best existing customers – but these customers might not be who you think they are.

“Looking at your customers through the lens of ‘extended customer revenue’ – that’s their own value plus the value of all those they refer – through a brand advocacy programme will transform how you see your best customers. Rather than those who spend the most, you’ll reward the customers delivering huge value to your brand through regularly introducing friends and family.

“You can also use first-party advocacy data to target high-converting referrer lookalike audiences on paid social. Compared to those acquired through other channels, referred customers spend 11% more on their first order and are 5x more likely to refer onwards, kickstarting a powerful cycle of sustainable growth and reliable revenue.” 

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