Welcome to 2021, where we are trying to cautiously resume our “normal” lives after 15 months in a pandemic while adjusting to a now-digital-first world. With new restrictions on how data is collected, the death of third-party cookies, and even Apple’s new privacy lockdown, brands are being forced to change the data they rely on and also maintain (if not, improve) the way they market to their customers. Cue first-party data, customer identity, and personalized experiences.

Merkle’s 2021 Consumer Sentiment Report found that 88% of consumers view a brand’s products as having higher quality if they feel like the brand is listening to their needs. On the flip side of that, Salesforce’s 2019 State of the Connected Customer survey found that an overwhelming 83% of consumers are concerned about sharing personal data online and 72% would stop buying from a company or using a service because of privacy concerns. These few statistics alone can sum up exactly why third-party data is no more and why first-party (and even zero-party) data is the way forward for marketers.

If you’re still relying on and investing in third-party data, it’s time to shift. While this data may have rapidly expanded your database before, these audiences weren’t ever really meant to be yours to market to in the first place. Consumers have finally caught on to the data allocation and algorithm marketing that has been a widely used tactic for years.

So, let’s talk first-party data and how to actually use it to its full potential. First-party data is unique to your business. It’s the valuable data that you own and have collected with direct consent from your customers, whether it’s through an app, activity on your website, responses to email marketing, and so on. And while you may have an abundance of this data, Experian’s 2020 Global Data Management Research report found that only 51% of brands claim that their CRM data is “clean.”

We get it, it’s a lot of information to sort through, let alone to know how to act and market upon it. But using that data to create 1:1 messages is just as important as the data collection. Because that data is useless without your ability to act on it.

Take our work for this video game retailer, for example. DEG dove into the brand’s in-store transactional data over the last five years. Through that analysis, we provided a strategic framework for future targeted communications based on detailed customer behavior and the lifecycle of a game. This resulted in a full migration to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, along with the integration of Audience Studio, Ad Studio, Einstein, Social Studio, and Datorama.

The outcome was a masterpiece of strategy, data dashboards, customer insights, and campaign analysis. This allowed for the retailer to build customer journeys based on segmented audiences and a cross-channel integration of messaging from things like abandoned carts, customer browsing, win-backs, and lifecycle-of-a-game communications. Talk about first-party data activation, amiright?

If you take anything away from today’s post, we hope it’s this: the right way to market in 2021 is to accept that this new standard of “privacy first” really means “user first.” And to do “user first” correctly, you need the right combination of technology, strategy, and content to centralize your data, push it out to your platforms, and deliver 1:1 messages across all touchpoints.

Want to dive deeper into this topic of activating on first-party data to create personalized experiences? Our next session of The Next Normal is happening on May 20 at 11 a.m., where experts from Salesforce, Merkle, and DEG will be diving into the data, technology, and activation strategies required to create personalized, 1:1 customer experiences. Register here—we hope to see you there.

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