With First-Party Data, Marketers Are Finally in the Driver’s Seat

With First-Party Data, Marketers Are Finally in the Driver’s Seat


By Kathryn Murphy 

Marketers often get a bad rap for using consumer data purchased from data management platforms or data marketplaces. Because third-party data has been sold to marketers without the explicit consent or awareness of the consumers, it contributes to the perception that marketers don’t care about consumer privacy. But for a long time, third-party data was the only option for understanding and engaging with customers.  

No marketer sets out with the intention of putting a go-between between them and their customer—it’s simply the price we had to pay to attract customers and create personalized experiences for them. That’s no easy task without having the relevant information about your audience, so marketers needed third-party data to narrow their scope.  

But third-party data is often plagued with errors and gaps, and that has led to marketers getting saddled with huge, poorly defined audiences; lower efficiency; increased waste in ad budgets, and lower ROI.  

A secular shift to first-party data 

Now, the impending Google ban on third-party cookies is driving marketers toward first-party data, the data they collect directly. And what a welcome change it is. 

It’s clear this is a development that marketers have long sought. Although Google’s cookie ban won’t go into effect until 2024, 43% of business leaders are already embracing first-party data because it provides better privacy for customers, a recent Twilio report found.  

Granted, shifting to first-party data won’t be easy; 81% of businesses are dependent on third-party cookies, the report found. Most companies lack the tools—such as a customer data platform (CDP) that can collect consenting customers’ data from multiple sources and assemble it into a single customer identity—to manage and activate first-party customer data to build deeply personalized campaigns. CDPs, recently an add-on for marketing teams, are now becoming more mainstream. 

Implementing a first-party data strategy can help marketers earn consumers’ trust as they generate more revenue and long-term value for their businesses. These four techniques can help marketers get started.  

  1. Opt in to data-driven marketing

While other departments once might have managed customer data, it is squarely within marketing’s purview now. Marketing operations no longer simply run campaigns and reports; now a comprehensive marketing data strategy also needs to incorporate a deep, data-driven understanding of customer behavior after the first purchase.   

This is a major mindset shift, even for marketers that already appreciate the power of customer data. Making this data effective is the next step, and it takes time to drive results. The sooner marketers get started, the better. 

  1. Use the equation for futureproof marketing

The lifetime value of a customer needs to be at least two to three times greater than the customer acquisition cost to be profitable.  

First-party data enables marketers to zero in on the most promising potential customers sooner, targeting their spending more efficiently to reduce customer-acquisition cost. At the same time, marketers can identify which customers are worth the investment to increase their lifetime value—and make sure they’re engaging those customers in relevant and personalized ways.  

When Domino’s Mexico implemented a CDP to manage first-party data, it decreased cost per acquisition by 65% and boosted its return on ad spending an incredible 700%.  

  1. Market in real time, because consumers operate in real time

There’s nothing more annoying than making a purchase and seeing a redirect ad for the same product on Instagram an hour later. Over time, this annoyance can erode brand loyalty and trust.  

Marketers need real-time data to avoid these kinds of inefficient oversights. As soon as a customer makes a purchase, marketing no longer needs to convince them to make a purchase; the challenge now is to cultivate them as a long-term customer. This shift unlocks great long-term value, but it needs to happen in real time. A CDP can facilitate that.  

  1. Hire a privacy or governance expert on your marketing team

Consumer privacy poses an ongoing challenge. Many marketers want to protect consumer privacy but lack the expertise to abide by privacy and governance regulations. Hiring experts who can help establish the proper data compliance guardrails as well as good data etiquette is a good start.  

While U.S. brands that do business in Europe already must comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it can be smart to investigate how companies in other countries handle consumer privacy, not just for compliance but also for an understanding of consumer expectations. European laws (and consumers) are much further down the privacy road, and they provide a picture of where U.S. consumers may be moving.  

Embracing first-party customer data, driving long-term value from customers, marketing in real time, and understanding privacy regulations and consumer expectations globally—all this is a lot, and these are just a few of the many challenges today’s marketers are up against. These changes won’t be easy, and results won’t come overnight. But by embracing these strategies, marketers finally will be truly privacy-first and consumer-first.  


Learn more about how marketers can be the heroes of the first-party data future 


Kathryn Murphy is general manager of Twilio Engage. 



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September 27, 2022 / Business, education / Tags: , , , , ,

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