by Maureen Quirk, CMO with Chief Outsiders
With the growing movement away from third-party identifying data, a sound primary data strategy is critical for organizations to adopt. There is tremendous power in harnessing primary data, as this data is unique to your business, data that you direct, collect, and own. Unfortunately, despite significant benefits, most organizations are not yet harnessing the power of first-party data at all, and certainly not to its full potential.
This article will cover the best sources of primary data that you may not have thought of, how to obtain and manage this data, and how to put this data to work to improve your customer’s experience and grow your business.
The Best Sources of Primary Data
Primary data is collected from your customers and prospects through their interactions with your business. Examples include data shared by customers through your websites, applications, landing pages, lead response forms, and in response to the communications that you send out, such as marketing initiatives through email, events, and webinars. This data is so much better because it comes from your direct relationship with your customers, which helps build familiarity and create authentic conversations.
Before your organization begins collecting data, you should set a clear strategy that will establish which data should be collected in the first place. Your overarching business strategy must drive your approach, be rooted in the customer experience, and need to distinguish between necessary and discretionary data. For example, one of your business goals may be to acquire new customers by pulling them into a thought leadership funnel. To push toward this goal, you create a robust content plan complete with webinars and demonstrations, all designed to attract new customers seeking solutions. You would use this as your focused primary data source as you would use this program to provide personalized content, target high-priority customer segments, and create forums for knowledge creation. This will all create rich data points for your organization and increase engagement with your organization’s products and services. Your primary data collection plan should be constructed with measurable objectives to guide which data will achieve your business objective, where your organization should invest in harvesting this data, and how these points of intersection may impact the customer experience. There are costs to data acquisition, which need to be factored in, including risking the customer experience, data privacy compliance, data governance and security, and impact on the perception of your organization. When weighted with your objectives, these costs can help prioritize your data collection efforts.
Win-Win Strategies for Obtaining Primary Data
People want to understand how their data will be used and why it is being requested. There is also some latent resentment that they must give up some aspects of their data to interact with a business. Customers feel better about sharing their information when they gain something in return, such as promotions, contests, and access to information. Customers also have better feelings about giving up their information when they believe that the business is handling this data responsibly. An example of this is to show customers that your organization has strong data governance and processes to ensure data integrity and minimize data breaches.
In addition to your processes, another critical area to ensure your collection and storage practices are on point is ensuring you have the correct technology. Your digital marketing practice must be mature to harness your primary data strategy correctly. Unfortunately, many organizations try to do this in-house while accelerating their primary data strategy, so determining capability technology gaps is critical.
Activating Data for Optimal Customer Experience
With a clear understanding of what data is most important for your business strategy and how this data will be collected and managed, you are now ready to put this data to work to improve your customer’s experience. The holy grail of customer experience is one-to-one personalization, a tall task that depends on your initial data collection and management techniques. One misstep in your personalization (using last name instead of first name as an example) can undermine your credibility.
You can also provide content at critical points during the purchasing journey using your data intelligence. For example, improving search results based on specific behaviors or providing curated content to audience segments when browsing your website can provide critical differentiation and improve conversion.
Measure for Results
After activating, it is time to measure and then begin anew! Measuring the effectiveness of your organization’s data strategy also informs your overall business strategy. For example, a SaaS company used its events as its primary source of data and lead generation but found that the leads were not actionable upon measuring results. As a result, the company began employing segmented landing pages that provided targeted webinar content for each segment. This approach immediately produced better qualified and actionable leads that allowed the company to focus its efforts on a narrower audience with more significant results.
Primary data allows closer connections to our customers, providing better experiences for your clients and ultimately accelerating growth. To ensure trust and longevity, the first step in primary data is governance to ensure that data is being utilized responsibly.
Maureen Quirk is a CMO with Chief Outsiders. An accomplished CMO, Maureen works through multiple sales models to capture market share via demand generation, account penetration, and new customer acquisition. An expert storyteller with a proven record of executing customer-centric strategies based on data and VOC insights, Maureen creates brand engagement and builds equity and customer loyalty.