How can I make my marketing budget go further? What do I need to change to make the shopping experience across my marketing and website a more personalised experience for my customers? Am I over personalising the shopper experience? These are all common questions that we get asked when we are working with clients. 
Although there are often best practice refinements to make, we find the answer to the question lay in the data first party data that you hold about the customers who have shown an intent to buy from yourselves or who have purchased from you in the past. 
Research from Salesforce shows the importance that customers place on personalisation: 
84% of customers say being treated like a person not a number is very important on winning their business 
59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business. 
Customers are 2.1x more likely to view personalized offers as important versus unimportant. 
Quite often this level of importance is not reflected by the brand, impacting their customer market share and value. 

What is first party data? 

First party data is the information you collect directly from your audience or customers. It includes: 
Data from behaviours, actions or interests demonstrated across your website(s) or app(s), including where customers have left the site (e.g. product page, add to basket) and are typically used to retarget your customers 
Data you have in your customer database, based on people who have previously purchased your product and service, a newsletter subscriber or supplementary information based on survey information 

Why do brands not use first party data effectively? 

As a consumer, I can see that digital marketing has evolved, where many brands have adopted customer purchase signals, advertising to me again following an initial visit to their site. Whilst this is a good practice to introduce, many brands fall down with either the frequency that they target the customer (often too much) and / or the follow-up message that they provide the user. 
When it comes to website personalisation, some brands have started to adopt the Amazon ‘Products you recently viewed’ approach, when I revisit a website. However, I still often see same home page, as I did when I last visited the site. I find this amazing based on the technology that is available in the marketplace to improve a customer’s onsite experience 
So, what’s stopping the above from happening. At Customer First Digital, we believe there are five areas which are obstacles for brands in using their first party customer data: 
Accessibility: this is either due to legacy antiquated data management systems which are in place, making it either difficult to analyse, segment and download their data. Some of the systems do not automatically integrate with the media providers or on-site personalisation providers you can use either, making real-time personalisation challenging and data management a manual process 
Volume: if you are lucky enough to get access to the data, the volume of data can often be overwhelming. If you don’t have a data analyst who has a commercial focus in place, you may find yourself getting lost in micro-segmentation, where there is not enough data available, causing diminishing returns 
Context: recognising that you do not know enough about your customers buying behaviour is important. Brands quite often need to look at a joined-up campaign between eCommerce and marketing, to either grow the number of customers and/or understand more about their current and future buying habits. Surveying your existing customers is a useful technique, especially during these times where customer buying habits are changing 
Education: a clear understanding of what personalisation opportunities are available, what technologies you should use and which audiences are most important for your brand. Although the targeting techniques are the same for all brands, what’s important to your customers will differ, including what drives them to make a purchase of your product and service and how long this will take differs 
Holistic approach: if the systems are in place, process can be an issue with poor internal communications caused by fragmented teams. Quite often we see the marketing team have access to data which would be useful for the eCommerce team (and vice versa), meaning the targeted personalised experience a customer has seen in the marketing communication does not flow through to the site 
Such challenges can all be resolved; however, the most important thing is to understand is what you are looking to achieve from your personalisation approach. 
In a future article, we will explore some best practice approaches to segmenting your first party data. 

Do you need help with your digital customer data strategy?  If any of the above is familiar to you and you need support with adopting your first party data and developing your customer first digital strategy, please get in touch for your free, no obligation consultation.  

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