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How to build a 1st party data strategy to future proof your marketing strategy

In a world of the cookie crumbling, marketers are scrambling to build their 1st party data assets in order to ride the systemic shift that is upon us in the industry.

Whilst some are streets ahead, others are caught at the starting blocks not knowing just how to tackle the challenge of building out a robust 1st party data asset in the wake of the cookie conundrum. For 20 odd years, the cookie has provided marketers with a rich data source to exploit and has meant marketers haven’t had to build the depth of skills to effectively collect and utilise data. Even those with large datasets from successful loyalty programs, struggle to make meaning of the data and utilise it to truly personalise the experience. It is this over reliance on 3rd party data sources that is making the challenge of building data assets that much harder.

So what do marketers need to consider to build an effective 1st party data strategy?

Consent is king

A robust and effective 1st party data strategy is built on a foundation of building trust with and providing better control to consumers. A key factor in building trust and providing consumers with the control they desire is through consent. Whilst Australian marketers have been spared from some of the most stringent privacy regulation brought about by GDPR – this legislation has truly re-shaped the marketing landscape and marketers locally and globally need to adapt. Apple is one of many examples of tech giants evolving their experience to place greater emphasis on user privacy. It’s recent iOS14 changes, provide consumers with the ability to decide which brands can access their app usage data through individual app opt in. These changes and others like Google’s privacy sandbox will see consumers increasingly expect brands to capture consent before utilising any form of 1st party data. Marketers will therefore need to increasingly build knowledge in how to effectively obtain and manage consent in order to maximise 1st party data capture.

Embedding data collection at key customer touchpoints

Historically we have attempted as much as possible to not interrupt the customers experience. One of the primary examples being the strategy of avoiding the need for consumers to create an account or login online. In an environment where 1st party data is key – brands will seek to drive consumers to register and login to authenticate the user and centralise data around their profile.

The online experience however isn’t the only engagement point which enables marketers with the ability to capture 1st party data. Marketers will need to consider the other appropriate touch-points and mechanisms to build direct relationships with customers and build out profiles over time through strategies like loyalty programs. Key to this approach will be how value is exchanged and leveraged to motivate customers to act.

Creating a central identifier

As marketers move to more heavily rely on their 1st party data assets – brands need robust mechanisms to aggregate customer behaviour, interactions, transactional data and consent preferences. This has heightened the need for brands to aggregate customer data around a central identifier. Platforms like CDPs and others provide marketers with the ability to more effectively centralise data and manage customer profiles to activate through other MarTech platforms. But before you run out to procure a CDP – be clear on your current tech ecosystem – where data sits and where you want to get to. MarTech is never the silver bullet and it is vital to have clarity over what it is you are trying to achieve to determine what platform/s best support your needs.

A clear plan to activate data

Whilst having a clear and deliberate strategy to build 1st party data assets is important – it is just as important that the brand has built a clear plan to activate and utilise the assets that have been built. Too often marketers will focus on collecting more and more data in the pursuit of achieving some sort of nirvana state before they move to a stage of activation. A good strategy to activate data is one, which is evolving overtime based on performance and has a clear vision that you are building towards, puts the customer at the centre (as opposed to focussing on silo’d activities across channels) and above all else reinforces respect for customers data and privacy.

Be aware of the limitations

1st party data will always be challenged to tell the full story of the customer as it is impossible to capture and track every interaction. As a result marketers need to combine a 1st party data strategy with other strategies in order to continue to drive effectiveness and deliver the experience they desire for customers. 2nd party data partnerships are one avenue brands that are pursuing to reach and engage audiences in a targeted and personalised manner. This isn’t simply about targeting a publishers or other organisations audience, it is about building stronger deeper partnerships with a few publishers or other non-competing organisation that enable you to share / co-mingle data in a privacy safe environment to achieve key outcomes.

In addition to data partnership, marketers are looking to the role of data modelling to help further build out datasets. Modelled data can help brands to fill some of the gaps left by 1st party data collection without the need to overtly capture data from the customer. This data isn’t just about driving personalisation – it is helping brands to adapt measurement approaches in a world where tracking is disrupted through the phase out of 3rd party cookies.

And finally whilst 3rd party cookies are being phased out – it doesn’t mean advertising platforms and publishers no longer have options to target and personalise customer experience. Platforms and publishers will provide new ways and mechanisms to target customers in a personalised way that also provides privacy safe environments for their audience. Google for example has introduced FLoC – which stands for Federated Learning Cohorts. FLoC essentially profiles users into groups of like minded people– rather than as an individual which can be utilised for targeting purposes. These new options should be considered as part of a broader data driven strategy – but to do so marketers must remain curious and actively evolve their knowledge if they are to effectively leverage new options at their disposal.

Need to build or evolve your customer and 1st party data strategy - we can help find out how, here.

Or if you are looking to upskill yourself and your team in digital & data - join a growing number of marketers learning with us. Find out about our public Digital Marketing and Data Masterclass or for our in house option, click here.


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