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Thought Leadership & Enablement
February 10, 2024

First-Party Data 101: Everything a Marketer Needs to Know

Are you using first-party data to drive your marketing strategy? Find out what it is, why it’s valuable, and how you can start collecting it.

Brittany Gulla
Director of Growth Marketing

First-party data is the new "it" thing in the world of data collection. It's been around for a while, but it's only recently become a hot topic among marketers and researchers alike. First-party data refers to information that you own and have collected directly from users — such as website visits, survey responses, or purchase history. 

It has become increasingly important for businesses to understand and take advantage of first-party data to strengthen their customer relationships, improve the customer experience and customer journey, drive sales, and more.

In this article, we’ll be diving into what exactly first-party data is, why it’s valuable, the differences between first-, third-, and zero-party data, and how to collect this information. 

What Is First-Party Data?

First party data: employees using their laptops at an office

First-party data is the information that companies collect from their shoppers. It includes data points like website visits, mobile app activity, customer purchases, email interactions, and more. 

First-party data is a valuable asset for businesses because it provides insights into customer behavior and preferences. Companies can use a first-party data strategy to personalize their communications, products, and services as well as to identify new sales opportunities. 

Gathering this customer data is the most effective way to know and understand your target audience and build a direct relationship with them while still prioritizing data privacy.

How Does First-Party Data Differ from Other Types of Data?

First-party data isn’t the only type of data that marketers rely on for digital marketing. We’ll show you the difference between each type below.

Zero-Party Data vs. First-Party Data

Marketers often use the “first-party data” term to refer to both zero- and first-party data — but if you need to differentiate between the two, there are slight differences. Zero-party data comes directly from customer responses. It’s the data you collect when someone completes product match quizzes or responds to a survey. Any and every Jebbit experience will collect zero-party data at scale. 

First-party data is also collected directly from the customer — but it doesn’t come from customer input. For example, first-party cookies that automatically track browsing information and location details provide first-party data. 

You can also get this type of data when someone adds an item to their shopping cart. While the customer hasn’t directly shared information with you, this interaction gives you clues about the products that the customer wants. 

Both first-party data and zero-party data give companies better information as opposed to second- or third-party data, which can be inaccurate or outdated. With high-quality first-party and zero-party data, companies can boost customer engagement, increase conversion rates, generate more qualified leads, attract new customers, improve retention, and more.

In fact, with third-party cookies going by the wayside, zero- and first-party data is instrumental to creating lasting customer relationships — without the use of third-party tracking.

Second-Party Data vs. First Party Data

Second-party data is very similar to both zero- and first-party data. The key difference is that instead of collecting this data yourself, another brand collects it, which means that you’re getting the customer and demographic data of another company.

Typically, you’d purchase this data from another company or exchange data with a trusted partner. While it can be useful to help enhance marketing campaigns, keep in mind that since second-party data may come from a brand with somewhat different audience segments to your own, it may not be as helpful as zero- or first-party data.

Third-Party Data vs. First Party Data

The main difference between first-party data and third-party data is the data source. First-party data is collected directly from customers, while third-party data is collected from external sources, such as market research companies or social media platforms.

Third-party data can be useful in certain scenarios, but it lacks the same accuracy and control of first-party data. First-party data is more up-to-date and can provide businesses with deeper insights into their customers. 

Third-party data by itself doesn't have much value. It's like a puzzle piece without the puzzle — you don't know what it's for or how it fits in. While third-party data can provide valuable insights when used correctly, it is not reliable and may be outdated or contain errors.

Also keep in mind that Google, Apple, and Mozilla are phasing out the use of third-party cookies to track browsing information. That means that not only will this type of data become harder to source from data providers, but it’s also likely that it will become less useful over time as marketers innovate new strategies to collect better data.

Why Is First-Party Data Valuable?

First party data: entrepreneur using a tablet

The quality is what makes first-party data the most valuable of all the different types of data out there. It comes straight from your customers, which is the most reliable source — and that means it’s much more accurate and relevant than second- or third-party data.

It’s not only reliability and accuracy that make first-party data valuable. You want this data for several reasons, which we’ll outline next.

Get Direct, Granular Insights

When you get third-party data, it’s tough if not impossible to tie details like demographics to shopping preferences. First-party data solves that problem by providing you with direct insights into your users, including demographic information, interests, behavior patterns, purchasing history, and more. That level of granular information can be invaluable for creating personalized experiences; highly targeted campaigns; and detailed, accurate customer profiles.

Have Full Control of Your Data

First-party data is owned by your business, which means that you have full control of how the data is used and collected. It can be easily tracked and segmented using a data management platform (DMP) or customer data platform (CDP) so that you can get meaningful insights and actionable results.

Build Better Customer Relationships

Capturing first-party data also allows for trust and relationships to be strengthened. The use of first-party data helps companies better understand customers, their needs, and wants so that they can provide a more personalized experience. This fosters trust between the business and its users, which leads to a stronger relationship and increased loyalty in the long run.

Maintain Data Privacy Compliance

First-party data helps businesses stay compliant with privacy laws and data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA. By owning the data, businesses are able to ensure that it is collected, stored, and used properly.

How to Collect First-Party Data and Zero-Party Data

Entrepreneur holding a piece of paper that says, DO YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS?

Ready to round out your datasets? There are lots of methods that can help you collect zero- and first-party data. Let’s take a look.

1. User Registrations

When users register for an account with your brand, it’s the perfect chance to collect personal data. Give customers a great reason to sign up—like discounts for new customers—and you can use this opportunity to collect contact information for future email campaigns, plus other important details like location, age, gender, and more.

2. Customer Loyalty Programs

Much like user registrations, this is a chance to collect personal information — but with a customer loyalty program, you may be able to take things a step further. For example, you can offer free birthday gifts in exchange for information about customer ages or product preferences. You can also give out rewards points when customers complete activities like surveys or quizzes that shed light on favorite products, interests, or demographic information.

3. Warranty and Product Registrations

This is an opportunity to not only collect contact and demographic information but also to build trust and form a connection with new customers. When you create a warranty or product registration form, you can even include a question or two about how the customer plans to use the product. Just make sure to keep it brief to maximize the likelihood that customers complete the form — and offer something valuable in exchange, like a solid warranty or a product protection plan.

4. Customer Feedback

It might seem strange in the age of data privacy, but you can always just ask!

That’s right—customers who have had a really good (or bad) experience are often more than willing to answer a few questions or share some quick feedback. There are multiple opportunities to ask for customer feedback, too. Send out a short survey after online or in-store purchases, after interactions with customer service, or after a customer makes contact with tech support.

5. Pay Attention to Reviews and Social Media

People talk — and those conversations are an often-overlooked way to gather first-party data. Keep an eye on what people are saying about your brand on both social media and among reviews. The things they’re saying will provide valuable insights into preferences, customer behavior, pain points, and more.

6. First-Party Cookies

While third-party cookies are going away, first-party cookies are here to stay. First-party cookies are the cookies that you own and store on your website (as opposed to third-party cookies, which are owned and managed by third parties).

On websites that utilize first-party cookies, you’ll often see a popup disclaimer that asks users for permission to use cookies. When users grant permission, these cookies can help create a better browsing experience by saving login details and other user-specific information. In exchange, the website owner gets analytical information about that user’s browsing activities across the website.

That’s what makes first-party cookies a great way to gather data. Because users must grant permission, they’re an ethical way to get valuable information to help inform your marketing strategy.

Collect Zero- and First-Party Data With Jebbit

First party data: quizzes, surveys, and polls in mobile views

Jebbit offers another fantastic way to collect these types of data at scale. Through Jebbit, you can create interactive experiences that engage customers while collecting the information you need. Let’s look at some examples of the experiences you can create.

Product Match Quiz

The Product Match Quiz is our most popular option. This experience offers a personalized recommendation, which helps consumers by saving them time on research. With this experience, you become the buyer’s personal shopper and discover why your shopper is buying from your brand. 

Personality Quiz

Example of a personality quiz question

Another great option is the Personality Quiz. These experiences are a fun, playful way for consumers to learn about themselves and your brand. A personality quiz captures consumer preferences on topics that are important for brand messaging and helpful in understanding who they truly are as a person. These details help you build strong, one-on-one relationships with all of your shoppers.

For example, DraftKings created a Jebbit personality quiz to help their customers discover what kind of a golf fan they are.


Online tennis store

Another example is Free People’s beautifully crafted lookbook, which puts their activewear collection on display. This type of experience works very well to channel customers to specific touchpoints on your site based on what captures their attention as they engage with the lookbook.

Trivia Quiz

Another fun way to gather data through an interactive experience is through a Trivia Quiz. You can capture the attention of new audiences, unlock people’s competitive sides, and gather phone numbers or email addresses in exchange for results. This is also a great opportunity to build brand awareness by providing options to share quizzes and quiz results with friends via social channels or SMS.

How to Use First-Party Data

Employee presenting at a meeting

After you’ve collected zero- and first-party data for your marketing efforts, how do you use it? Just follow the steps below.

1. Automate With Software

To handle large amounts of data, it’s best to work with customer relationship management (CRM) software or a customer data management platform. These platforms are designed not only to help you collect data but also to store and analyze it all in one spot.

2. Analyze Customer Behavior

Start your analysis by looking at customer activities and interactions with your brand. Pay attention to:

  • The devices that customers are using to access your website
  • Bounce rates to determine which pages may cause customers to leave quickly so that you can determine why
  • Time spent on pages, which highlights which pages on your site are most engaging to customers and site visitors
  • Traffic and lead sources, which indicate which channels are best at bringing customers to your brand
  • Conversion rates, which help you highlight the pages, strategies, and other factors that drive sales

3. Identify Trends

Once you’ve sorted through customer behavioral data, you can start looking at demographic information to identify trends, create audience segments, and develop customer profiles.

For example, look at the people who visit your website via mobile devices. You may discover that a large portion of this group belongs to a specific age group or that they tend to purchase different types of items compared to the people who are using a PC to visit your website.

The more correlations you can draw between different datasets, the more you can learn about the types of people who make up your audience — and their specific needs.

Don’t forget to account for things like customer feedback. For example, if your feedback responses include several complaints about how it’s difficult to navigate your website, be sure to check into those users and their activity. You may discover, for instance, that most of them are using mobile devices — and that tells you that you can improve customer experiences by improving the functionality of your mobile site.

4. Optimize Across the Board

Bear in mind that data collection and analysis is a continuous process. However, after you’ve started to identify trends and put together customer segments and profiles, you can start optimizing your marketing efforts according to what the data is telling you.

With zero- and first-party data, you can:

  • Create highly targeted marketing campaigns
  • Create more personalized shopping experiences for individuals
  • Improve website and mobile app functionality
  • Build engagement and loyalty among existing customers
  • Expand your reach to bring in new customers
  • Improve customer service and technical support
  • Optimize product offerings and price points
  • Improve in-store and point-of-sale experiences

All you need to do is collect the right data — then learn how to organize it and analyze it so that you can produce results.

Now Is the Time to Collect First-Party Data

Overall, first-party data offers a wealth of possibilities for businesses looking to gain a better understanding of their customers. From providing valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences to enabling more targeted campaigns and personalized experiences, first-party data is invaluable for any marketer.

Contact Jebbit to start collecting zero- and first-party data today!

Brittany Gulla
Director of Growth Marketing

Jebbit Grid Decorative
Jebbit Grid Decorative
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