The bedrock of any marketing campaign is first-party data; the information you have collected from and about your customers is invaluable in terms of understanding key metrics about the people who have purchased from, and/or are loyal to, your brand.
But first-party data can only take you so far. The use of third-party data can help you discover really interesting things about the prospects who are likely to become customers, and the customers that are likely to become high-value, long-term loyalists. And, you can leverage the real promise of customization, serving up highly targeted offers and creative to practically any segment you can dream up.
If you don’t have a lot of experience using third-party data as a supplement to the first party information you have about customers, never fear. First, let me offer a definition: third-party data is information that’s collected by someone that doesn’t have a direct relationship with consumers, and it’s basically anything that isn’t covered under first-party data. It’s collected from publishers and other digital sources who let third-party data providers pay to collect information about their visitors.
Here’s a quick glossary of the key categories of information you can get from third-party sources, which can help you start to think about some of the segments they might lead you to.
This type of data includes statistical facts about people – such as age or income – that can be used to identify markets – such as people 25-34 or households with an annual income of $250,ooo+.
This type of data allows you to look at your customer’s habits, hobbies, attitudes, aspirations, and values. Psychographics would help you uncover segments like “outdoor enthusiasts” or “people likely to donate to environmental causes.”
What demographics are to people, firmographics are to organizations. If you’re a B2B marketer, you might use firmographics to find businesses with fewer than 100 employees, or that are based in certain geographies.
Lastly, milestone data aggregates people around life events that trigger needs – such as buying a new home, or having a baby.
As you can start to see, with a strong third-party data partner, you are truly only limited by your imagination in terms of how to apply third-party data. Here are a few of my favorite examples and anecdotes.
We work with a well-known purveyor of high-end housewares. Milestone data enabled them to reach out to new movers — not exactly groundbreaking, but still better than what they could do with first-party data alone. However, we were also able to connect them to some other interesting combinations: new movers or homeowners with a high-house hold income, AND new movers or homeowners who had applied for a home renovation permit within the past 30-60 days. Targeting these unique segments enabled some equally unique offer customization, and yielded outstanding returns.
Another client is a nationwide pet store chain. There are loads of exciting attribute combinations to test when it comes to pet owners. As table stakes, we can target folks with an affinity for pets and pet ownership. More interestingly, we can segment out things like high income dog owners and target them with grooming and obedience services; urban pet owners for leashes and pet carriers. We have found over and over again that prospects and customers convert in higher numbers, and with higher AOV when they receive messages that are highly specific to them. Imagine one more scenario: you’re a rural pet lover who receives a postcard showing an image of beautiful countryside, and offering a significant discount on invisible fencing. Again, our tests have shown that this type of highly targeted creative and messaging will result in an order.
Remember at the beginning of this piece, I mentioned the importance of first-party data. As I wax poetic about the joys of using third-party attributes to segment, I want to be clear that the real power lies in combining the two. First-party data allows you to take a first pass at segmenting your prospects and customers – maybe you’re a retailer and you want to reach out to everyone who visited a specific category, say women’s sweaters, right before the holidays. Now, third-party data can come in and help you fine-tune your segment: men who looked at women’s sweaters, and are married will receive your 30% off women’s sweaters postcard – plus free gift wrapping when you buy two! Imagine sending something like this out two weeks before Christmas and snagging those last-minute shoppers.
So, I guess I’ve made my position pretty clear at this point: third-party data is critical for advanced segmentation and offer customization, and the possibilities for how you can look at your audience are nearly endless with a strong data provider as your partner. Better yet, it’s a rewarding experience to think about your prospects and customers as real people with real affinities; and to reap the benefits to your bottom line of treating them as such.
Andrew Fegley is President of Remarketable