Your first-party owned data playbook

How businesses grow online is changing. Increasingly complex data privacy laws have severely reduced your ability to track prospects on third-party platforms like Facebook. Prioritizing first-party owned data will ensure compliance and help you build stronger relationships with your customers.

What's happening with my ads? The death of tracking

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It’s getting much harder and more expensive to target potential customers online. But why? Well, it’s a combination of three things:

  1. Data privacy legislations are making it harder for ad platforms to track individuals. Third-party advertisers, like Facebook, are struggling with an increased focus on online privacy. The tactics they used to reach users and track their behaviour are no longer allowed.
  2. Big hitters like Apple have followed suit by making it easy for their customers to delete personal data and block tracking. Now that consumers can opt-out of being tracked, they are doing so in droves. 
  3. There has also been a major shift in consumers’ perceptions around collecting and using their personal information. The modern customer is no longer so trigger-happy when opting into website cookies or newsletters. While consumers still want to engage with brands, they also want to have the control to curate their online and offline experience.

The solution - Owned Data

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If you have relied on third-party data to drive growth, you’re probably wondering how you can plug this gap in your reach. As online engagement continues to shift from platforms like Facebook to a privacy-first approach, owned data will help adapt your marketing efforts.

Instead of secretly stalking your customers across the internet, you’ll be able to connect with them at the place and time of their choosing. The result is far more effective marketing campaigns that strengthen your customer relationships.

Before we go any further, here’s a breakdown of what we’ll cover.

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Chapter 1

What is Owned Data?

When you’re using Facebook to target potential customers, you’re using third party data, or data that actually belongs to Facebook that you’re paying them to access. Whereas zero-party and first-party data is data that you own – you’re collecting it yourself on your owned properties; your website, chatbot, analytics, cart etc. Before we go any further let’s dive into the different data types.

The different data types

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Understanding the various data types is key to creating effective marketing campaigns that drive repeat business. While third-party and second-party data have traditionally worked well for online businesses, shifting attitudes around privacy have brought owned (zero-party & first-party) data to the fore.

With that in mind, let’s dig into each data type, their pros and cons and how you can use them to build stronger relationships.

Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data is a relatively new term that describes the information your customers share with you directly. While similar to first-party data, it differs in that customers have explicitly stated their preferences.

Zero-party data is the personal information your customers give you in exchange for a better user experience. It can include data you gathered through surveys or customer feedback.

In contrast, first-party data includes inferred preferences based on customer interactions with your brand – when making a purchase, for example.

Zero-party data is invaluable as it aligns with your customer’s preferences allowing you to create a personalised brand experience that keeps them coming back time and again.

First-Party Data

First-party data is the personal information you collect on your owned marketing assets like your website. It can include anything from behavioural data to subscription and social data.

Like zero-party data, first-party data is extremely valuable as it costs nothing to attain and is given freely by the user – indicating a willingness to engage with your brand.

To set yourself up for success, you need to optimize how you collect and use first-party data. The key is ensuring everything is done compliantly to get the most valuable information you can actually use.

Prioritizing your first-party data will help you create stronger customer relationships while improving the ROI of your marketing campaigns.

Second-Party Data

If you own first-party data, second-party data is the first-party data someone else owns. You can buy this data directly from them. It can include many of the same data sources as first-party data, including websites, social media profiles or survey responses.

You can purchase second-hand data from a trusted partner. However, it can be difficult to confirm if the information was collected in line with privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA.

While second-party data can prove useful, the indirect nature of the customer relationship makes it much less effective than first-party owned data.

Third-Party Data

You can acquire third-party data from aggregators who, you guessed it, aggregate data from different sources. Typically these companies will segment data into categories like industry type, interests and audience behaviour.

When you target someone on Facebook, you are using third-party data or data that belongs to Facebook that you rent for your campaign. Facebook combines their base data (pages a user follows) with information from advertisers and with data obtained from third-party aggregator partners.

Third-party data is popular due to the large volume and ability to target specific segments. However, as we have outlined above, the effectiveness of this data has declined massively as consumers take more control over their privacy.

Data types summary

Chapter 2

Why you should prioritize owned data

The days of relying on third-party data to meet business objectives are ending. The introduction of regulations like GDPR, Apple’s privacy updates and Google’s shift to cookieless web browsers have dramatically reduced marketers’ access to information on consumer behaviour.

As online advertising moves away from third-party cookies, prioritizing owned data will help you adapt your marketing efforts. An effective owned data strategy provides actionable insights that become more accurate over time – unlike third-party data which degrades – as you build trust with your customers and interact more. 

This new type of relationship is critical as consumers demand that their privacy is protected while also wanting more personalization. The key here is that the data relationship is on their terms. They decide what to tell you. As long as you respect their wishes, you can build stronger customer relationships based on two-way value exchanges.

And the proof is in the pudding. One study carried out by Google and the Boston Consulting Group found that brands that focused on first-party owned data strategies for their crucial marketing functions achieved up to a 2.9 times revenue uplift and a 1.5 times increase in cost savings.

Owned Data Benefits

Data Privacy: Collecting your data directly allows you to optimize your collection methods to ensure compliance. This means that you have the right compliance questions in place and your customers know what type of information you are collecting and how you plan to use it.

Customer Trust: Asking your customer for their consent and respecting their wishes will help you build stronger relationships that stand the test of time. When you prove that you are a privacy-first organization, customers will be more likely to volunteer more detailed information about their preferences. 

Audience Categories: Collecting owned data compliantly naturally lends itself to effective categorization as your customers will tell you exactly which marketing channels they would like to be contacted on. Further segmentation can occur when you factor in some of the zero-party data you collect, allowing you to create campaigns around their specific interests and preferences. 

Reduced Costs: Collecting zero-party and first-party data from customers is far less expensive than second or third-party data, as you are collecting it directly without needing a middle man. While it might require more time and effort at the start compared to launching a campaign on Facebook, the long-term value you derive is worth the extra effort. 

Increased Accuracy: Owned data comes directly from your customers, so you can trust its accuracy. This accuracy is a critical competitive advantage over companies not prioritizing owned data. Not only that but ensuring your customers have the option to update their preferences over time and respecting those preferences will maintain the value of your data and help you build long-term relationships. 

Personalization: It goes without saying that owned data naturally lends itself to effective personalization. Creating a unique experience for your customer, one that they have control over, will help you create more effective marketing campaigns and ensure you get the most out of your time and resources.

Chapter 3

So how do I create an owned data strategy?

Creating an effective owned data strategy is all about data collection. How you collect the data will impact your compliance status and dictates what you can actually do with the data once you have it.

If you have not set up an optimized collection process, you will have a lot of non-compliant information in your marketing CRM. Getting this process right however, will leave you with more valuable data you can use across your marketing mix.

You’ll be able to segment this personal information into different audiences, split by region and marketing channel. With the right technology and processes in place, you will then be able to funnel these audiences into your marketing tools.

This can have a profound effect on your customer relationships as you now have better personal data to use to engage & nurture your customers. You’ll also be safe in the knowledge that you’re complying with global data privacy laws.

Now that you have your collection and audiences set up, you can now connect the audiences to your marketing tools. They’ll thank you for it too – you now have more, better personal data to use to engage & nurture your audiences, safe in the knowledge that you are complying with global data privacy laws and building great data relationships with your users.

Chapter 4

Optimizing how you collect your owned data

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Your owned data strategy is all about how you collect personal data. Get this wrong, and you’re stuck with unusable data (we have seen this so many times!). How you collect personal data dictates how you can use it.

What you can do with personal data depends on the following factors:

  • The type of collection point (checkout, newsletter, chatbot etc)
  • The region your customer is in
  • The type of checkbox you use (opt-in v opt-out)
  • The language of the checkbox
  • The Privacy Policy you have in place at the time of collection

Getting a basic understanding of each and identifying the rules that apply to your business will set you up for success.

Type of Form

Did you know that data collection rules can vary drastically depending on the context and the type of form you are using for collection?

Data privacy regulations are very different at checkout compared to other data collection points, for example.

Optimizing your forms based on the data collection type will help increase your (owned) marketing audience significantly. That’s right, by collecting data compliantly you will be able to market to more people and deliver a more personalized buyer experience across each marketing channel. It’s a win-win.


Data privacy regulations also differ across regions like the EU, UK and US. Even individual countries (France & Germany) and states (California, Colorado, Virginia, Connecticut & Utah) have their own specific legislation in place.

Optimizing your forms by region/country will allow you to tailor your consent collection to gather more valuable personal data you can actually use throughout your marketing mix.

Checkbox (opt-in v opt-out)

Whether you’re asking your users to opt-in or opt-out is a very different proposition. Depending on the context & region, you may be compliant/non-compliant. Once you’ve figured this out, it’s almost always the case that one will convert much better. So you won’t be surprised to hear that optimizing your checkboxes will result in more valuable customer data you can use compliantly. 

Language Used at Collection Point

How you can use the data you collect largely depends on the language used at the collection point. Not only that, but you need to have a record of the language used at the point of collection for every submission you receive. The language should make it clear how you plan to use the personal data. For example, if you are collecting emails to send future marketing communications to you should make this clear. 

Privacy Policy 

Then there’s the privacy policy – an oft-maligned afterthought on many marketers’ to-do lists. However, this is largely changing as more marketers view privacy as a tool to build better customer relationships. 

Highlighting how you plan to collect and use personal data will benefit you and the customers, so everyone knows where they stand. An effective privacy policy should set forth the data collection and processing procedures you plan to use. 

You can get a full breakdown of your collection requirements by region and form type here.

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Chapter 5

Categorizing your data effectively

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It’s not hard to grasp the importance of owned data but putting it to good use is a whole different matter. Businesses often struggle to get the most from their owned data due to a combination of organizational and technological factors. None more so than a lack of understanding of the data and where you can use it. 

Optimizing your collection methods according to region and collection type will allow you to categorize your audiences by their preferred methods of communication, including:

  • Email
  • SMS
  • Direct Mail
  • Social Media

By targeting the channels your customers want to be messaged on, you will ensure you comply with data privacy laws while winning the battle for customer engagement.

And the importance of effectively categorizing extends beyond personalization—it also helps you determine your most valuable customers.

Those with the highest ROI will most likely have effectively implemented a long-term strategy for mapping audiences to their core marketing channels.

Chapter 6

Use Case: Zipp Mobility

Zipp Mobility came to Dataships looking for a way to collect more customer data they could use compliantly. They had experienced rapid growth in the preceding years but struggled to understand their data compliance requirements.

Consequently, they collected a lot of data but were unsure how to use it across their core marketing channels. Through Dataships, Zipp put their data compliance on autopilot and had peace of mind whenever they clicked send on their latest marketing campaign.

Just as importantly, they knew which customers wanted to hear from them across each marketing channel, adding a new layer to their personalization strategies and helping them reach 50,000 customers in the last six months.

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Kickstart your owned data strategy with Dataships

Book some time with our data experts to see how Dataships can integrate with your existing tools and optimize how you use your data.

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