Content Marketing
How to Use Zero-Party Data to Level Up Your Content ROI

How to Use Zero-Party Data to Level Up Your Content ROI

May 2, 2023
5 min read

Sometimes creating content for your audience can feel like throwing spaghetti at a wall– hoping something will stick. But what if you could trade in your old approach for a strategy that’s more reliable (and a lot less messy)?

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Image Source: Giphy

Our secret weapon for success is to include zero-party data. Savvy marketers and content creators who want to level up their ROI know that harnessing the power of zero-party data translates into content that your audience wants to engage with– ultimately taking your ROI to the next level.

Put down the spaghetti and grab your zero-party hat, because it’s time to get serious about your content marketing strategy. In this post, we’re sharing the benefits, examples, and “how-to” of all things zero-party data so you can start creating content that converts.

Quick Takeaways

  • Content marketers use zero-party data to create more personalized, engaging content for their audience
  • First-party data is gathered directly from customers’ interactions with your brand, whereas zero-party data is information that consumers willingly share with you for their own benefit
  • A strategy that uses zero-party data allows marketers enhance personalization, engagement, trust, ROI, and accuracy
  • To collect zero-party data, marketers should encourage online registration, feature forms and pop-ups on their website, take social media polls, and run email campaigns

When you include zero-party data in your content marketing strategy, you can create more personalized, engaging content for your audience and level up your content ROI.

What Is First-Party Data?

Before we dig into zero-party data, it’s important to first understand first-party data.

You’re probably already familiar with first-party data – the information gathered directly from customers’ interactions with your brand. It provides insight about consumer preferences and behaviors, making it more accurate and reliable than second-party or third-party data.

You can gather first-party data from your website, app, social media pages, and any other platforms you use to interact with your audience. The most efficient way to do this is through a Customer Data Platform (CDP) or Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).

Your business owns this data, so as long as you’re practicing good privacy habits, everything will be safe and secure. Some common examples of first-party data include:

  • Purchase history
  • Website analytics
  • Social media interactions
  • Email interactions
  • Customer feedback

What Is Zero-Party Data?

With zero-party data, consumers are handing you their personal information on a silver platter. Not only do you have permission to collect this data, but consumers are sharing it with you for their own benefit – usually for a reciprocal exchange of value, like a personalized offer.

And because your audience voluntarily shares this data, the exchange establishes a sense of trust and transparency, ultimately nurturing the relationship they have with your brand. Some examples of zero-party data include:

  • Gated form fills
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Quizzes
  • Customer surveys
  • Product preferences
  • Online chat

infographic shows examples of how marketers can include zero-party data

Image Source: Factoreal

When you include zero-party data in your strategy, you can create more personalized and engaging experiences for your audience.

The Difference Between First-Party and Zero-Party Data

It all comes down to how your data is collected – first-party data is passive, whereas zero-party data is proactive. Zero-party data leaves less room for error, since your audience intentionally hands over this information.

chart shows the differences between first-party and zero-party data

Image Source: Digital Marketing Institute 

That’s why when you’re curating the perfect content marketing strategy, the key to success is to collect first-party data, but to also include zero-party data.

Why You Need To Include Zero-Party Data

Your audience is smart, and they have high expectations of your brand and its content. Zero-party data allows you to have a meaningful conversation with your consumers, while addressing their personal needs and enhancing:

  • Personalization. About 97% of marketers agree that a personalized experience is the cornerstone of marketing programs. Zero-party data gives you a direct line to your customers’ preferences, allowing you to create and share high quality content that is tailored to their interests.
  • Engagement. When you use surveys and other creative ways to interact with your audience, they will be more excited about connecting with your brand.
  • Trust. When your customers have control over their personal information, they learn to trust your brand.
  • ROI. As you know, zero-party data enables engaging content, which leads to attracting and retaining loyal customers, ultimately resulting in boosted sales and revenue.
  • Accuracy. With zero-party data, you know that your information is accurate because it comes directly from your audience members.

Collecting and using zero-party data is a win-win for both your business and your audience members. They get a more valuable, personalized experience, and you get to foster relationships that level up your ROI.

How To Collect Zero-Party Data

Using zero-party data to support your marketing strategy is essential to delivering valuable content – yet 42% of marketers admit that they don’t know how to collect zero-party data effectively. Here’s a few of our favorite ways to collect zero-party data so you can avoid falling into that 42%:

  • Encourage online registration. This could be for a webinar, class, or event you’re hosting.
  • Include forms on your website. Offer a free trial or download in exchange for a site visitor’s contact information.
  • Take social media polls. Featuring a poll or quiz on Instagram or LinkedIn is a great (and free) way to gain insight on consumer opinions.
  • Run email campaigns. Invite members of your email list to re-engage with your business by offering exclusive offers, like discounts or early access to products and services.
  • Feature pop-ups. Including conversational pop-ups on your webpage can drive engagement with site visitors.
  • Surveys. Collect customer feedback with post-purchase surveys to learn more about their opinions.

Best Practices for Collecting and Using Zero-Party Data

Following best practices while collecting zero-party data is key to success. Doing so will help ensure that your audience’s data is handled responsibly, ultimately creating a positive user experience.

1. Be Transparent

Honesty is the best policy, even when it comes to zero-party data. Be sure to let your audience know what information you are collecting and how you plan to use it. They will appreciate your transparency, and ultimately build more trust with your brand.

2. Offer Value

It’s unlikely that your audience will reveal their personal information without an incentive, so providing something in return is essential. Offer a discount, personalized offer, or exclusive access to content to let them know it’s a fair trade.

screenshot shows example of MIG form offering a free download in exchange for site visitor’s contact information

Using their preferences, behaviors, and interests to tailor your content will make them feel like their needs are understood.

3. Respect Privacy

Privacy is a big concern these days, so it’s extremely important to respect your audience’s privacy when collecting and using their information. Only collect the data you need, and be sure to follow data security best practices. Zero-party data should only be used to improve your content and create better experiences for your audience.

4. Keep It Simple

Keep your requests short and sweet, and make it easy for users to opt out at any time. Over-complicating your data collection techniques can quickly turn away your audience, and ultimately prove to be ineffective.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your data collection methods, either. Quizzes and surveys should be an exciting and engaging activity for audience members. The more creative you are, the more likely it is that your audience will share their information with you.

5. Continuously Evaluate and Adjust

Collecting and using zero-party data is an ongoing process, so be sure to continuously evaluate and adjust your strategy as needed. Monitor your metrics and analyze the data you collect to see what’s working and what’s not – then, you can make any changes you see fit.

Here’s a first-hand example of how American Airlines, one of the world’s largest airline carriers, put these best practices into action to boost their revenue.

Video Source: Marigold

Level Up Your Content ROI Today

We love spaghetti, but we love to include zero-party data in our content strategy even more. When you create more personalized, engaging content for your audience, you can create meaningful relationships with your customers and level up your ROI.

Are you ready to craft a content strategy that converts? The best way to level up your ROI is to publish high quality content consistently. Get started today by checking out our weekly blog content service, or schedule a free consultation now to learn more!

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Lauren Basiura

Lauren is a writer for Marketing Insider Group, a top-rated Content Marketing Agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on all things MIG.

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