Today’s eMarketer article on data shows that marketers are increasingly convinced of the importance and efficacy of first-party data as a driver of improved marketing performance. That’s great news because it shows that the market is fast coming to appreciate how important customer signals are for the future of marketing.
There are many types of information that companies can collect about their customers. Here are a number of examples:
- Website registration data
- Past online purchase information for customers
- Past in-store purchase information that can be traced to a specific individual, using a credit card record, cheque, registration form or loyalty card/program
- PC web browsing and behavior data
- Mobile web browsing and behavior data
- In-app browsing and behavior data
- Email CRM program email addresses and records of email interactions (opens, clicks, send to a friend, etc.)
- Customer interactions with your social media presences
- Call center records
It’s easy to see how, collectively, these varied sources of data can provide a foundation for understanding individual customer behavior or aggregated audience characteristics.
Taking ownership of a brand’s first-party data is an absolutely critical task for today’s marketer. It is only through collecting and interpreting this information that a brand can take a truly customer-first approach to its customer engagement efforts. And study after study show that there is no better predictor of future customer actions than past customer actions.
One of the most exciting aspects of a first-party data strategy is that it helps right-size the role that surrogate marketing metrics like demographics play in a brand’s targeting efforts. For decades, marketers have used demographics like age and gender and family status as primary drivers of media and other targeting. And demos were very powerful. But while demographics can and probably should play a role in marketing in future years, it’s important to recognize that they are simply tools to focus dollars on groups that seem to have a higher propensity than average to buy a product. Now that we can understand the actions and characteristics of each buyer, we can take a more reasoned and individualized approach to marketing communications in which demographics like age and gender play some role, though perhaps not the primary role.