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Customer Experience Brands Data Deep Dive

Your data strategy can be a community-building strategy – here’s how

By Allie Webb, Marketing strategist



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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May 8, 2023 | 8 min read

For The Drum’s deep dive, The New Data & Privacy Playbook, Allie Webb of agency Coegi explores the opportunity for trust-building of a data strategy built around community building and value exchange.

Four lego people on a pedestrian crossing

Let customers choose their own adventure, says Coegi's Allie Webb / Daniel K Cheung

How do the world’s most beloved brands like Lego and Trader Joe’s earn lasting spots in the hearts of consumers? They use consumer data the right way, creating meaningful experiences that build relationships between individuals and the brand. Not to simply create transactions.

You can do the same (even without the theme parks or Hawaiian shirts).

From customers to community

Consumers are craving emotional connection with brands. This means aligning with key values, beliefs and identities. It means focusing on personalized content, not pushy ‘buy now’ ads. We must abandon the overly transactional approach to consumer data exchange to build lasting relationships.

Yes, you need to offer a value exchange for personal information. But advertisers need to rethink our end of this bargain. Start by taking a critical look at the data you are using as sources of truth.

Reality checkpoint

Many so-called data-driven marketers could use a healthy dose of reality. The idea that you can deterministically predict an individual’s next move based on randomly selecting third-party engagement data for targeting is a little delusional.

If someone clicked your ad, visited your site, and decided your product is not for them, the months you spend relentlessly retargeting them because they are now ‘in the consideration phase’ will be fruitless.

For example, I visited the Purple mattress website one time before deciding to buy a cheaper mattress from Costco. For weeks after, I was served a Purple ad before almost every YouTube video I watched (as a millennial cord-cutter, I watch a lot of YouTube).

The problem is that this transactional data only tells you what someone did, not why. Even with artificial intelligence leading the way, data inferences (especially those based on third-party data) are often misguided and almost always biased.

Flipping the script with zero-party data

Instead of asking the data what the customer will do next, get to the underlying why. This is where zero-party data (ZPD) swoops in to save the day. ZPD can transform data collection from a transactional exchange to a relationship-building lever that makes your audience feel heard, seen and valued, without being creepy.

With ZPD, we can stop making blind judgments and begin building relationships.

Let consumers choose their own adventure

ZPD puts customers in the driver's seat, making them active participants in their journey with your brand.

As Accenture’s 2023 Technology Vision Report says, “Data about customers has long been valuable to the enterprise – now it is time to make it valuable to customers as well.” The goal is still to create an exchange; however, instead of trading name and email for 10% off, gather data on what the customer truly values in exchange for a more positive user experience.

Think about Spotify. When you like a song, the platform will save it in a playlist so you can reference it later, and you trust its algorithm to use your feedback to deliver more curated music suggestions in the future.

Other ZPD collection methods, such as product finders and quizzes, can help you guide your audience to the best offering for their individual needs. Prose Haircare and protein powder brand Gainful are excellent examples of this hyper-personalization strategy.

You can also use website navigation to let users self-identify their needs and preferences. For example, our client Eye Promise has separate website experiences tailored to the needs of distinct consumer groups: individuals, athletes and doctors.

Encourage and listen to feedback

19% of all purchases are driven by consumer conversations, both online and offline. To build community and support commerce, your brand needs to actively join and moderate these conversations. As Harvard professor Julian De Freitas says, “companies should collect higher-resolution data that unveils the underlying pattern of their customer journeys”.

To really understand these journeys, layer tactics like social listening to understand emotional sentiment with ZPD collection via post-purchase surveys, likes/dislikes and polls. This will capture more holistic, emotionally-rich insights about the user experience.

Use customer feedback to improve, delight, and innovate

Take these insights and make meaningful optimizations to your media, your product offering, the purchase experience, and everything else. Advertisers can use ZPD to deliver messaging based on direct feedback, and because the customer voluntarily shared information, they won’t feel their privacy is being violated or their information is being misused.

By demonstrating that your brand values their perspective, you can empower individuals to share their voices (and their data), knowing that they will be rewarded. Then, armed with direct user feedback and an understanding of both practical and emotional needs, you can begin to build a community of enthusiastic brand champions.

To read more from The Drum’s latest Deep Dive, where we’ll be demystifying data & privacy for marketers in 2023, head over to our special hub.

Customer Experience Brands Data Deep Dive

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