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How to turn holiday spenders into loyal customers with first-party data
January 30, 2023
Seasonal promotions like Black Friday provide brands with vital sales spikes, but also a rich harvest of first-party customer data. With the imminent demise of third-party cookies, it has never been more important to maximize the impact of that data, says Sean Popen, EVP at Matterkind - even if it means a change in approach.
As sure as Black Friday gets earlier every year, marketing leaders will spend a growing proportion of their time considering whether they’re doing enough with the customer insights they gather over the holiday season. It’s both inevitable and sensible. Third-party cookies will eventually disappear, putting first-party data center stage when it comes to delivering the personalized experiences customers have come to expect. Any brands that aren't already preparing for a first-party-centric future, risk finding themselves in the digital doldrums, outpaced and outperformed by competitors.
Of course many, if not most, brands are taking some steps to generate more first-party data. Great job. Keep doing it. Do more of it. The stakes are high and the opportunities enormous. At this pivotal time of year, brands who take stock and think hard about maximizing their first-party data can unlock high-definition personalization, enhanced customer experience, and maximum return on investment – all year long.
But here’s the thing. Getting the data is only part of the story. It’s got to be put to work. Let’s look at three approaches you can add to your marketing data playbook to make the most of the customer data gains you made during the holidays:
● Reorganizing your approach to data generation
● Enhancing your data
● Six plays for data activation
A change in approach: never stop generating data
Find what works for you and keep doing it. Seasonal sales generate great swathes of first-party data as customers scramble for discounts. Holiday promotions are trigger points for activities and practices you can actually use all year.
Now while there’s no suggestion that a weekly Black Friday is a desirable strategy for any brand, spring-loading a series of targeted promotional tent pole events throughout the year can keep the customer information flowing. It’s a shift from sporadic bursts of activity to business-as-usual database building. This approach also provides the opportunity for multi-channel PR activities with all the associated engagement and SEO benefits from the promo toolbox.
Activating your data starts with enhancing your data
So, you’ve generated a sizable chunk of first-party data from your tent pole event and you’re itching to maximize its value and impact – what’s next? It’s time to build your understanding of your new customers so you can meet their needs, while being mindful of their privacy and adopting a just-enough approach that maintains a strong value exchange for them.
Augment your hard-won first-party data with other data elements. Think about third-party data sources and a range of modeling and measurement tactics – including marketing mix modeling, which is making a comeback. Consider using polls, surveys, browsing statistics, offsite statistics, psychographic and demographic profiles, buyer behaviors – in fact any other information to build out customer profiles and customer segments. Then you’re ready to put your data to work.
Set data impact to maximum – six plays to consider
There are many ways to extract full value from first-party data, here are six plays that some successful brands are implementing right now:
1. Co-marketing and clean rooms
Extend the reach of your messaging by exploring co-marketing with partner brands. Your newly enhanced customer data is highly valuable and closely guarded but cloud-based clean rooms offer an excellent opportunity to share data reach with other suitable brands, leveraging their first-party data, in an ethical and compliant way.
2. Reconsider messaging frequency and duration
Having gathered new customer data from promotional activity, consider a longer-term customer communication play – with brand messaging going out beyond the 30, 60, even 90-day mark. Not with the hard sell, but relevant and personalized information to keep the customer engaged. Take the opportunity to orchestrate some multi-channel messaging, using the entire marketing toolbox – be it email, addressable direct mail, display, social, cross-programmatic, essentially whatever works for you. Flex that first party data to drip-feed value, spark new interest and bolster customer relationships.
3. Segmentation and HVAs
Analysis of carefully collated and cross-referenced first-party data not only enables the identification of discrete customer segments but also messaging tailored to their preferences and buyer behaviors. This way you can build out your high value audience segments (HVAs) and engage them with highly personalized communications – strengthening relationships and increasing conversions. Test out pricing strategies for individual segments (even through affiliate programs).
4. Turn one-time redeemers to loyalists
Customers responding to price-based promotions often do so to take advantage of deals and have little or no engagement with a brand itself. However, enhanced first-party understanding of these ‘one-time redeemers’ presents a chance to build a relationship with them. Yes, it’s a price-sensitive segment, but it’s also an audience to which cross-sell and upsell opportunities are potentially attainable with tailored communications and personalized UX.
5. Take KPIs beyond conversions
Performance isn’t solely about conversion – there are other metrics along the way. And in progressively building on your data identity backbone with enhanced first-party data you are essentially bringing these customers back through the funnel again. This means you can analyze their behaviors against a range of metrics such as returning website visits, form completions, abandonment rates or content performance. And the more you learn, the more you are able to refine their experience (which, yes, hopefully drives conversions).
6. Enhanced A/B testing
try running an audience lookalike program on your newly segmented first-party data to find other customers with matching profiles – then test them and test them again. As they mirror your existing customers, it’s a chance to see how they respond to different messaging tactics or pricing tactics, for example. This can yield invaluable insights to refine your engagement strategies.
The road ahead
Whatever curveballs await marketing leaders in 2023, there’s little doubt that a solid first-party data strategy will form a foundation for success. In this regard, holiday promotions are, ahem, a gift. Every scrap of customer data returned in response provides an opportunity to enhance understanding, build more effective nurture journeys, and deliver hyper-personalized engagement. In this way you get to drive customer loyalty and conversions throughout the year ahead.