Numbers game: First-party data still tops for marketers

With data-gathering tools in the marketing world evolving at the speed of a whirling data cloud, it’s sometimes difficult to know whether your company has the depth of data it needs to maximize marketing strategy.

If you’re faced with that kind of uncertainty, you’re not alone. In a study of client-side marketers last year, 83 percent pointed to the capacity for data-guided decisions as the most important skill their teams can have. At the same time, only 10 percent believed they were effectively improving performance via data-driven insights into customer behavior.

Still, your most valuable tool may well be the first-party data you’re gathering yourself about your existing customers, using cookies, website analytics platforms, CRM systems and PPC campaigns. The second and third-party data commonly purchased from outside sources can help fine tune the demographics, behavior and context of future audiences, but your first-party data is likely to be your bread and butter.

First-party data is likely to become even more important in the future as connected devices and addressable interfaces evolve for even more two-way communication, predicts Tom Flanagan on

“The accuracy and depth of this analysis will continue to be enhanced as the industry begins to roll out new people-based marketing platforms,” Flanagan writes. “Two-way feedback loops created by connected watches, refrigerators, ovens and automobiles will further solidify the coverage and accuracy of true omni-channel graphs within our Internet of Things.”

Suggestions for maximizing your use of first-party data in the present day include:

  • Keep specific end goals in mind. The more specific and number-driven you can be with what you’re trying to accomplish, the better you can corroborate metrics with business goals. Aiming to attract two million visitors to your site, for example, is better than generally aiming to increase traffic.
  • Maximize your options. Valuable first-party data that’s relatively easy to compile with digital tools and services includes acquisition cost per customer; lifetime value of repeat customers versus acquisition costs; time period in which revenues cover acquisition costs; percentage of new business from marketing-driven leads; average lead-close rate; close rate per channel; and paid versus organic lead ratio.
  • Coordinate information. First-party data tends to be most effective when several sources and tools are contributing to your audience profiles. Customer data platforms can be enormously helpful in that regard, helping consolidate and store various forms of incoming information — first, second and third-party data — into understandable patterns.
  • Conduct short-spend analyses. One especially helpful function of first-party data is its ability to provide an in-depth look at your spending patterns. Such overviews can monitor, clean, classify and analyze your expenditures with an end goal of driving down procurement costs, improving efficiency and monitoring compliance. The results can be used for everything from budgeting and inventory management to product development.

RingSquared can provide you with access to a wide range of first-party information via a PPC campaign.