Why marketers must have laser focus on first-party data

30-Second Summary:

  • Invoca is a call tracking and conversational analytics platform.
  • They recently surveyed 500 B2C marketers to understand how they use and access first-party data. 
  • The study revealed that two big hurdles marketers face with optimizing advertising performance are – Data quality and accuracy (46%), privacy and security concerns (42%)
  • More than 27% don’t have data on customer interactions from their company website such as transaction history and product/category interests.
  • 81% percent of marketers are very confident or confident in data from in-store interactions. Whereas, 73% were very confident or confident in phone call data.
  • 58% of marketers plan to invest more in data from in-store interactions and 47% plan to spend more on phone calls as a first-party data source. 

Companies that are in the business of consumer data — including Facebook, Twitter, and Oracle – are moving away from third-party data. This development is due in part to new regulations like the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Both reduce the availability of consumer information that isn’t “first-party” — permission-based, consumer data collected directly by a brand for its exclusive use.

At the same time, consumer demand for increased data privacy has led Apple and Mozilla to block third-party cookies for ad targeting in their browsers. Indeed, marketing is becoming a first-party data practice, and this sea change affects marketers whether they lean toward digital or offline channels. 

In light of this, my company recently surveyed 500 business-to-consumer marketers to understand how they use and access first-party data. The research found that marketers realize the opportunity but aren’t always executing. What’s more, we’ve uncovered data-related problems marketers are facing, how they employ data in their jobs, how confident they are in their data abilities, and how they plan to budget their data-minded investments going forward.

Examining problems – 31% of marketers said too much data is a top challenge

Marketers today face plenty of data challenges. One of them, however, is not the availability of data – to the contrary, 31% of survey respondents said a top challenge is that there is too much data to analyze.

For optimizing advertising performance, the two big hurdles marketers encounter are:

  1. Data quality and accuracy (46%)
  2. Privacy and security concerns (42%)

First-party data Invoca survey stat showing too much data as a top challenge

The considerable concern around data quality and accuracy speaks to the lack of transparency of third-party data. While the quality of first-party data can be verified internally, you are relying entirely on the supplier of third-party data to vouch for its veracity.

Many third-party data segments that advertisers use for ad targeting look like this

Data providers begin with a high-quality “seed” set of collected audience data (for example, interested in basketball shoes) that they then “model up” using other data sources to add volume to the segment. Thus, the quality and accuracy of the audience segment are greatly eroded. Hence, there’s growing importance around first-party data that marketers completely control and own themselves.

The one problem that really jumped off the page

More than one-fourth of respondents (27%) said they don’t have data on customer interactions from their company website such as transaction history and product/category interests. It’s a surprising statistic, especially given the ubiquity of Google Analytics.

Creating a seamless buying experience appears to be a top goal for many marketers today. To do that, they need to have a holistic view of where the customer is in the purchase journey. Yet only 28% of respondents said they have a fully unified marketing strategy, likely because there are still data gaps in channels that marketers rely on.

Measuring confidence – 90% of marketers were confident in purchase history data

Like every other kind of professional, marketers want to be confident in the data they’re using to make decisions. With that idea in mind, 90% of respondents said they are very confident or confident in purchase history data and 86% said the same for data from their company website. Additionally, 81% percent of marketers are very confident or confident in data from in-store interactions, and 73% were very confident or confident in phone call data. 

Such confidence helps explain why marketers plan to spend more time, resources, and budget on offline data sources in the coming year. Of these businesses, 58% of them are planning to invest more in data from in-store interactions and 47% plan to spend more on phone calls as a first-party data source. 

First-party data Invoca survey showing marketers confidence in purchase history data

For phone call data and considered-purchase categories, like travel, healthcare, and financial services, such rising investment will equate in taking advantage of big opportunities.

Consumers typically want to have a conversation after researching online, and they are thus more likely to buy. In fact, these phone conversations collectively generate more than one trillion dollars in the U.S. alone.

Getting smart – One in four (26%) would like to have more skills to analyze data

With the school year nearing the semester break, students aren’t the only ones trying to learn more — professional marketers are too. One in four (26%) would like to have more skills to analyze data, and 42% said they will take data analysis training within the next year. Here’s why: While 73% of marketers say they’re confident in their ability to apply data when personalizing campaigns, just 67% say they’re actually confident about analyzing data. There’s hope with AI-powered data for marketers of all stripes. 

Invoca survey shows one in four marketers want to gain data analysis skills

Marketers who use call tracking data are an unusually confident bunch and probably less inclined to need immediate education. After all, 74% or this group is confident in their skills to apply data when using it to personalize marketing campaigns, compared to 61% of those who don’t use call tracking. Interestingly, nearly half are able to use call tracking data to link online and offline customer actions. These data points suggest that the most sophisticated marketers not only are unusually adept with first-party data but are also great with offline intelligence.

Leaning into a first-party future

There’s no question that high-quality data is essential to the success of the sophisticated marketer. Yet with changes to data policies and consumer behavior, the viability, and reliability of a brand’s first-party data matter more than ever.

Marketers who don’t take advantage of their first-party data for all it is worth are missing out on great opportunities to create a powerful customer experience. It’s imperative for brand practitioners to do just that because happy customers are everything – after all, it costs six times more to acquire new ones. For today’s marketer, first-party data should be viewed as the premium fuel for customer retention that drives relationships and sales. 

Ian Dailey is the senior director of product marketing at Invoca, a call tracking, and conversational analytics platform. 

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