How Companies Can Use First Party Data in Marketing


Enterprises today have unprecedented ability to collect, store and analyze data pertaining to nearly any imaginable facet of business — including all things customer. But, as ZDNet cites, a majority of data collected by companies (60 to 73 percent) may be going unused for analytics applications. This means many enterprises do not capitalize on all the possible data insights they possess, ultimately causing them to leave value on the table. Having data is the start, but using data is key to improving business outcomes.

Utilizing customer data in marketing is no exception here. It’s possible to collect information on nearly every aspect of customer sentiment and behavior. But analyzing this potential treasure trove of information requires having the data analytics tools and processes in place — as well as a company culture conducive to using data insights in making decisions.

Here’s more on how companies today can use first-party data in marketing. 

What Is First-Party Data?

HubSpot defines first-party data as that which your business collects directly from its audience, like how visitors interact with an ecommerce website. Other sources of first-party data include:

  • Customer behavior in apps or with products
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
  • Customer behavior across social media platforms
  • Customer interactions with emails
  • Survey data and direct customer feedback

One major usage for first-party data is effective retargeting — like showing website visitors the most relevant product ads after they leave your site. But another key usage is fueling marketing analytics with the goal of driving business outcomes based on important customer insights.

First-party data is powerful — especially compared to second- or third-party data — because it is proprietary to your company alone. As long as you have the technology and data strategy in place to take advantage of it, there’s nothing holding your business back from reaping all the insights contained within.

Powering Marketing Analytics with First-Party Data

One challenge in harnessing first-party data is the task of bringing together disparate data sources into one usable format for analysis — and to provide one agreed-upon source of truth across the marketing department and the company at large.

Modern marketing analytics platforms easily work with cloud data warehouses, on premises data, data from applications — data from anywhere customers interact with a brand. These platforms also prioritize a highly usable search experience, meaning marketers can ask questions in natural language and receive answers already formatted into interactive charts.      Moreover, they deliver granularity, even at a very large scale. Modern marketers need to be able to understand people on a personalized level, not just in aggregate, to effectively use data.

As Digiday outlines, operating without an “accessible, unified data set” means it could take weeks and require data science experts to pull and analyze data from all your channels. The longer the lag between customer action and insight, the less relevant and useful the insight is — in fact, customer wants/needs could have already changed during this time.

Similarly, allowing marketers access to only channel-by-channel data falls short of providing the useful overarching view they need to make competitive data-driven decisions.

What types of insights can companies gain by using advanced analytics to harness first-party data? Here are two examples from the Forbes Technology Council:

  • Optimizing the quality and volume of sales leads/traffic.
  • Creating hyper-specific buyer personas for customers based on demographic information and behavior.

First-party data is data collected directly by a company about its customers and is chock full of insights that can inform marketing strategy for the better. However, turning collected first-party data into actionable insights that positively affect marketing efforts hinges on having the right data strategy and tools in place to mine those insights — as well as the company culture to support marketers acting upon them in a way that drives measurable business outcomes.