Building trust with customers through zero-party data collection

/ 3 January 2024

Imagine you’re browsing for new shoes online. You spot a nice pair, but will they really match your style and fit? If only the company could read your mind, to suggest the perfect pair.👠

Well, in a way they can: through zero-party data. This is information customers intentionally share with brands, like their shoe size, style, and colour preferences. It creates a two-way conversation to understand customers better.

Unlike third-party data collected behind the scenes, zero-party data comes straight from customers. Providing more accurate insights compared to external inferences. Customers also provide explicit consent with zero-party data, making it compliant. This builds trust and meaningful relationships.

Let’s dive into this a little more.🤿

What is zero-party data collection?

Zero-party data collection is information customers willingly share with a company. Unlike first-party data, where businesses gather insights through customer behaviour and interactions, zero-party data is actively provided.✍️ 

This often occurs through marketing gamification, surveys, or feedback forms. And this type of data is particularly valuable because it comes straight from the source: the customer. It offers clear and unambiguous insights into customer preferences, pain points, and desires. 

So why is zero-party data so helpful for building customer trust?

Rebecca Trivella, Director at 3radical says it best:

“The trust factor is high, as customers knowingly give this information. The process is transparent and consensual. By openly offering their data, customers are ‌entering a value exchange. They trust the brand to use this data wisely, to curate more personalised and effective experiences. Whether it’s product recommendations, targeted promotions, or tailored content, the customer expects a better level of service in return for their shared information.”

So instead of tracking a customer’s every click or purchase behind the scenes, zero-party data collection is an active exchange of insights the customer chooses to share. Like:

👖“I like slim-fitting jeans in extra-tall”

🍕“My perfect Friday night is a pizza and stand-up comedy on Netflix”

With these exclusive insights, voluntarily shared by the customer, you can create experiences, product recommendations, and campaigns that are relevant, stand out and actually delight them.

Why retailers move from third-party to zero-party data collection

Third-party cookies have overstayed their welcome. 🍪❌

Not only do they make for a poor customer experience – instantly blocking you with a cookie notification to simply browse a website – cookies come with high privacy concerns. In fact, Google intends to phase out cookies in 2024. But there’s no need to panic. It’s an opportunity to do something more valuable for customers.

Enter: zero-party data. ✨

As we’ve already touched on, zero-party data comes straight from the customers – who willingly share their information [known as informed consent] – you can say goodbye to making inferences from external data.

Customers grant access to their preferences, saying “I trust you with this information”.

The result? 

  • Accurate / fresher data on preferences – for more tailored, less creepy, experiences.
  • Transparent data sharing – which builds trust and promotes building loyalty.

In fact, first-party data improves customer experiences for 9 in 10 brands. It has taken over from third-party data. 

Ultimately, zero-party data creates a future where privacy and personalisation actually co-exist and work harmoniously. 

Let’s take a closer look at how zero-party builds trust…

Laser in: trust and zero-party data

Granted, building trust does not happen overnight. But… Zero-party data – namely the practices involved in zero-party data collection – accelerates this trust.

Here’s why:

It’s transparent: Customers know they are sharing their information and retailers are open about how they’ll use customer data.

It’s reliable: Because it comes directly from the customer, it’s more dependable.

There’s a mutual understanding: Customers share their information, in exchange for more relevant and tailored experiences.

To sum up, brands access more accurate, first-hand information to build more tailored communications based on customers’ current needs. And there are no big-brother connotations because they willingly shared this information in expectation of a better experience.

It’s a win-win for all involved.

All sounds good. But how do you collect zero-party data? Let’s take a look. 

Zero-party data collection: Best practices

When it comes down to zero-party data collection, timing is everything. It’s a bit like dating. You wouldn’t ask for too much commitment on a first date. This is your first browse.

Whereas, if you wait for a prime time like post-purchase, you’re more likely to capture their preferences through things like loyalty sign-ups.

So, what should you ask them?

You want to know things like:

  • What products do they obsess over?
  • Which features really stand out?

This insight is golden for crafting perfect customer experiences. It means you can stock their favourite item, offer tailored promotions, and suggest articles or events hand-picked for them. It’s about asking the right questions at the right time.

Now, you may be thinking – how do you actually get customers to want to spend the time doing this? The best approach is gamification.👇

How gamification helps you collect zero-party data

We’re all time-poor and rushing around. So, how do you grab customers’ attention?

Introducing: gamification. ✨ 

It’s not about just creating a points and badges scheme. Instead, it’s about creating a rewarding experience so that customers don’t feel like it’s a chore. It becomes an engaging activity where participation is valued.

Here’s an example:

Zero-party data collection in action: Mecca 🔍

When Mother’s Day rolled around, Australian beauty retailer Mecca got creative with their marketing. Rather than push promotions, they launched a personalised gift finder quiz. This fun game asked thoughtful questions to match customers with their perfect present.

But Mecca’s quiz did more than just help buyers. It collected zero-party data in a subtle yet brilliant way.

At the end, customers were asked what type of beauty shopper they identified as, from novice to lover. Now Mecca had a crucial nugget of insight into each customer’s true preferences and habits.

Armed with this intel, Mecca could adjust email marketing to match each recipient’s interest level. Casual buyers got lighter touch announcements. Beauty fanatics received VIP access to new product launches.

This shows the power of zero-party data done right. By incentivising customers to self-identify, Mecca unlocked the personalization needed to delight shoppers and drive revenue.

Build trust with zero-party data 

Zero-party data collection will soon become the only way to give customers that VIP treatment. Knowing an individual’s aspirations, preferences, and even pet peeves allows you to tailor brand experiences just for them.

Goodbye bulk email blasts. We’re talking one-to-one personalisation based on current needs. 

It makes customers feel special and because they’ve willingly shared their data, they build trust and therefore loyalty with retailers that use this approach.

🤫Pssst. You can see how Michael’s generated $400k through its reactivation campaign, right here.

Keen to accelerate your retail experiences? Take your next step: Talk to our zero-party data experts today. We’d love to share examples of how leading brands have overhauled customer experience and driven trust.

Looking for more? 

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