The use of data is revolutionizing marketing and sales, improving the buying of media placements, the quality of leads, the accuracy of prospect information, and the engagement strategies of decision makers. First party data, in particular, offers a high level of accuracy and insights to predict future customer behavior. Using the data effectively requires processing, however, if you want to gain the best possible results from it. Here’s how to use and manage 1st party data to obtain maximum digital targeting benefit.

What is 1st Party / CRM Data?

First party data is the information you collect directly from your customers, which you have ownership rights to. This can come from several sources, including:

  • Your customer relationship management (CRM) system, whether you use a digital or manual process to keep track of your clients and their information.
  • Customer information stored in old sales records, social media and website analytics.
  • Subscription data such as email and regular mailing lists, mobile apps or newsfeeds.

This 1st party information is considered extremely powerful and valuable, because it’s not only free for the company that owns it, but it’s collected directly from the client base and is more likely to be true as a result.

Onboarding the Data

Most businesses keep some record of their customers’ activities, and many even collect peripheral information like demographic data and preferences. Since much of this has historically been stored offline, however, to use it effectively in your marketing it’s necessary to first import it into a digital format. Onboarding is the process of converting the data and bringing it into the online space, while following best practices for consumer privacy.

How Onboarding Works

Data onboarding imports all the information that exists in your various offline records, and connects it to your company’s online records by matching fields such as email addresses and telephone numbers. These are the most common methods of matching records, but they represent Personally Identifiable Information (PII), which is a problem in terms of privacy issues.

To resolve this, once all the data has been amalgamated and matched, onboarding programs strip out the PII. This action leaves records that are identifiable only by digital ID numbers and attributes like cookies, IP addresses and device IDs. The data can then be sorted, marketers can assign categories and other differentiators, and group it into segments based on these attributes.

Ideally, a good onboarding provider will also be able to factor in publicly-available third-party data sets such as census records, for example, which can enrich the information you have with additional detail. Second party data, which is ethically-obtained 1st party data belonging to other companies in your industry, is almost as valuable as your own information. It can also be onboarded and combined with the records to build out your database as fully as possible.

Here’s a visual representation on how onboarding works.

Best Strategies and Practices

To onboard data effectively, it’s important to choose a company that understands the particular CRM system you use. This helps you to achieve a higher match rate.

  • Start by cleansing and refreshing your data, especially if it’s one or two years old. This will improve the accuracy of your results.
  • Onboard of a minimum of 100,000 accounts or more, to provide you with a sizeable database to work with afterwards. This is because match rates average only around 30% to 50% accuracy, due to the prevalence of incorrect data in many of the offline records.
  • Fill in as many fields as you can in the CRM file before importing it, to enable more potential matches and improve the accuracy of your records.
  • Begin with a “lookback window” of 180 days if possible, which will give you a higher rate of matched records than a 90-day window.
  • Follow the input parameters specified by your onboarding partner as carefully as possible, which will help reduce the number of input errors.

Make sure the process your onboarding provider uses isn’t just mapping of cookies, so that it can also be used in environments without access to cookies.

By combining your online and offline data in a central data management platform, you create a high-level view of your current and prospective clients. The insights you gain from this view help you with market segmentation, target audience identification and a better, more detailed understanding of your individual customers. This enables you to develop personalized marketing campaigns, and to target ads online that previously went only to offline customers. This gives your campaigns a consistent, relevant message and feel across a wider range of platforms and delivers the best ROI possible for your efforts.

LiveRamp connects more than 200 digital marketing applications and media platforms. It’s my favorite onboarding tool. By onboarding customer data into the targeting, measurement, and personalization products developed by their partners, LiveRamp helps leading brands eliminate data silos and run more efficient marketing programs. LiveRamp is an Acxiom company.

Using Data for Digital Targeting

After you have segmented your 1st party data and deleted all PII from your records, you’ll be able to target your preferred customers with personalized online and mobile ads. Reactivate customers who haven’t called in a while and present them with relevant offers. Improve the efficiency of your prospecting campaign, by configuring settings to include only those who haven’t purchased from you previously and are therefore new customers.

Create target audiences using the “lookalike” tactic, which identifies all records with selected similar characteristics to your ideal client. Plan coordinated marketing campaigns using all the channels that reach the people on the list, and personalize the information delivered by your website to display certain content only to visitors fitting specific parameters who indicate they might have interest in purchasing your product.

Narrowing down your targets to the patterns fitting individual prospects and particular categories of consumers comes very close to being person-based marketing. This means the ability to plan campaigns using channels and devices specifically aimed at reaching individuals. Person-based marketing isn’t only an extremely effective method of targeting. It is also critical for the attribution of sales to the various devices and marketing channels, because it provides specific information about those individuals. Since consumers routinely move between their online and offline profiles or selves, the combination of both sets of data enables you to develop a complete visual image of each customer.

Facebook Approved Data Partners

Facebook, in particular, works with specific, approved 3rd-party companies to enable companies to reach users who might be interested in their offerings. These companies identify the customers who may be receptive to an offer based on their interests and actions on Facebook. The ads have a high degree of transparency and control. Consumers can find out why they are being shown the ad and can request not to see it again if they wish. The target audiences are identified using the Partner Categories’ custom audience feature, which is helpful for businesses who don’t have access to their own customer data.

Data – Worth Its Weight in Gold

The 1st party customer data you have available in-house can be worth its weight in gold for your marketing purposes. It’s no good to you if it’s languishing in obscure Excel spreadsheets and legacy customer sales or CRM programs, however. Onboarding it and combining it with publicly-available data will enhance the data to the point that it can give you a holistic picture of your ideal client, your overall target audiences, and the best ways to reach them.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to deliver closely targeted, personalized marketing messages to the right people, at the right time, using the right methods.  Ads to your database can drive positive ROI by promoting offers, upsell and cross-sell, as part of your promotional message plan.   Think about it.

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