First-party data is incredibly valuable – why are you wasting yours?

Pete Whitmarsh

Head of Paid Media

Analytics and Data Science

First-party data refers to any data a company has collated directly from its own audience. First-party data can be collected through web analytics, newsletter subscriptions, app downloads, satisfaction surveys or customer accounts. First-party data is also considered to be more valuable than third-party data because:

  • It is more likely to be accurate as it comes from a single source
  • Insights come directly from the customer, so campaigns and strategies should yield better results
  • As you control how the data is collected and stored, there are minimal concerns around data misuse and privacy

Due to a lack of sufficient data, or because the data is spread over multiple CRMs, many brands do not make the most of their first-party data. However, using first-party data can improve return on ad spend (ROAS) and conversion rates for remarketing campaigns on ecommerce and lead generation websites.

Ecommerce sites


Not all customers are the same. Adjusting your bidding strategy, depending on who you are advertising to, is a more efficient way of utilizing your marketing budget. To make informed adjustments, you can use first-party CRM data to build a user matrix of your customers. You may want to include customer traits like:

  • Purchasing frequency
  • Average order size
  • Percentage of orders returned
  • If the customer has or hasn’t installed your app or subscribed to your newsletter

Once you have created a user matrix, you can segment your customers and adjust paid media campaigns accordingly.


High-value customers (VIPs)


Customers who make frequent purchases, have a high average amount of orders and a low returns rate, are high value to ecommerce businesses. Focusing your media spend on these customers can yield a high return. You can adopt certain tactics to encourage these visitors to spend more:

  • Target with ads for new product launches
  • Set a loose frequency cap
  • Target with ads detailing refer a friend scheme

As high value customers are already familiar with the brand, it can be beneficial to exclude this audience from brand ads. Another way to use this data is to create lookalike audiences to be used in paid media campaigns.

Targeting individuals who have a similar profile to your high value customers can help you develop VIPs of the future. We can do this by pushing customer data in BigQuery and using the data to create audiences in Analytics 360.

These audiences can then be targeted in Google Ads, Search Ads 360, and Display & Video 360. You can use these insights in paid social to create audiences in Facebook and LinkedIn.

Lapsed VIPs


You can use your user matrix to identify lapsed VIPs; customers who used to frequently purchase with a high average order and low return rate, but no longer buy from your brand frequently.

Getting these customers back to make a purchase can encourage them to become current VIPs, so ads you serve should be focused on that goal:

  • Offering a huge one-time discount
  • Encouraging them to install your app or sign up to the newsletter

We recommend setting a tight frequency cap for this audience; we want to remind them about the brand, but we don’t want to use up huge amounts of budget.


Low-value customers (regular returners)


Customers who buy often but regularly return, or have a low average order, can cost brands money. To combat this, we might exclude them from paid media campaigns or restrict the marketing budget.

Lead generation websites


First-party data can also be used improve remarketing campaigns for lead generation websites. Typically, there is a longer period between the first time a user visits a website, and the subsequent sale, which means remarketing is extremely important in keeping the prospect’s interest.

The first step is to map out your sales cycle:


A diagram of the lead gen sales cycle for lead generation websites.

Remarketing is mostly associated with targeting ads at someone who has left the website without converting. For lead generation websites, this tends to mean leaving without filling in a form to request more information.

However, there are actually multiple additional opportunities to target users in the lead gen sales cycle. An opportunity that is often missed is when a user fills in the form with fake details. We find that those who go as far as to fill the form out, even with fake details, are usually very motivated and interested in the product or service. For these users, we may present them with an alternative page (one that offers fewer barriers in the form fill, or a higher reward for filling in) encouraging them to leave their real details.

We can use remarketing campaigns to nurture relationships, with those who have been identified as a qualified lead, such as displaying ads which highlight your credentials. Another tactic can be to exclude any negative leads from our targeting, as well as prospects that have bought from a competitor (although in these instances, we might want to add them to targeting after their contract period is up).

How to start using your first-party data


The first step is to ensure you have a sufficient amount of first-party data. Traditional marketing can be a great way of getting more first-party data and effective ways include:

  • Event sign ups
  • Fliers with online activated discounts
  • Competitions are all effective ways of getting data

Downloadable resources, such as whitepapers and webinars, are also useful tools in data collection, but any data collection and storage needs to be compliant with data privacy regulations. Centralizing your data is also important if you are to build up in-depth audiences.

Integrating offline data in analytics, through Measurement Protocol, Salesforce link, or even manual input, can develop a more holistic view of your customers.

Once you have set up your data and created audiences, you can push them out to ad platforms like Search Ads 360 and Display & Video 360. You can then use new data to continuously refine your audiences, implement them in your remarketing campaigns, and improve your digital marketing results.




Search Laboratory | Digital Marketing Agency

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