As consumer data privacy policies evolve and shoppers want more control over their personal information, it becomes increasingly important for ecommerce brands to collect zero party data. With it, you can make more effective marketing campaigns through personalization and gather valuable feedback from customers to improve your business.

Zero party data collection is becoming essential for every ecommerce business to compete in a crowded industry. So let's unpack the basics of zero party data and seven ways you can collect it to catapult business growth.

What is zero party data?

Zero party data is information that consumers provide to brands voluntarily and proactively. Coined by Forrester in 2018, zero party data "can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize [them]."

What is the difference between zero party data and first party data?

First-party data is any information that is collected from customers by the business that's using that data. This can include customer data on purchase and browsing history, contact information, demographic details, customer support transcripts, and more.

Zero party data is a subcategory of first-party data. It refers to the information customers deliberately provide to a brand rather than data collected by observing customer behavior (such as on your website). For example, email address as part of a form to subscribe to a newsletter or responses to a post-purchase survey.

Zero party data examples

There's a plethora of types of zero party data that you can collect from your customers. Here's a quick list to give you an idea of the kinds of information you can ask your customers for:

  • Email addresses

  • Phone numbers

  • Birthdate

  • Purchase intent

  • Demographic information

  • Product feedback

  • Communication preferences

  • Interests and hobbies

  • Habits

Why is it important to collect zero party data?

Collecting zero party data gives you more information on your customers so you can create a better experience for them. And it's your key to an evolving data privacy landscape.

Zero party data powers customer personalization

Personalization is an essential strategy for winning the hearts and wallets of today's shoppers. It allows you to segment your customers into relevant groups and target them with more relevant messaging and offers, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

Instead of only relying on behavioral insights alone, you can adjust your customer communications based on what they've told you they want.

For example, say you sell box games. If you ask customers what types of games they like when they sign up for your email list, you can customize each campaign to their interests. So instead of a generic Labor Day sale email with your bestsellers, you might include kids' board games for your customers who need family-friendly fun. And for your mystery lovers, you can feature your latest escape room games.

You get valuable qualitative feedback

Zero party data collection also provides insights into your customers' opinions about your brand and products. While you can gain a lot from analyzing website behavior and purchase history, zero party data allows you to dive into the why behind your customers' decisions.

This can inform your product development, marketing campaigns, positioning, and overall business strategy.

Third party cookies are on the way out

Google and Apple have announced that they are phasing out third-party cookies. So soon, you won't be able to track your customers' actions across the web. Now it's all the more important for ecommerce brands to rely on owned data.

If you haven't been collecting much zero- or first-party data, now's the time to focus on it. With zero party data, you'll be able to create a holistic picture of your customers and make up for the loss of third-party data.

Transparency builds trust

Ultimately, doing away with third-party cookies is a good thing. It paves the way for more trust between brands and consumers. When collecting zero-party and first-party data, you must get customers' consent first.

So when shoppers hear from you or see a personalized campaign, it doesn't feel creepy because the customer intentionally gave you that information. They know that the relationship they have with your brand is in their control.

7 ways to collect zero party data

As you're forming your zero party data strategy, you should collect it whenever and however you can to fuel business growth. Consider these seven ways to gather zero party data for your ecommerce store.

1. Launch a product recommendation quiz

Product recommendation quizzes offer mutual benefits to the brand and the consumer. You can help a shopper find the right product while gathering their contact information, needs, interests, and preferences.

For example, if you sell bras like ThirdLove, you can ask customers about their size, favorite styles, and any issues they're currently facing with their bras.

Then you can give them immediate recommendations and personalize future marketing campaigns based on that quiz.

2. Collect valuable details on signup

Many opt-in forms for email and SMS have the ability to add extra fields. So use this opportunity to gather the most important information you want on your audience to personalize your emails and texts.

For example, if you sell clothing, you might ask customers to specify what gender(s) of clothing they shop for. Or if you like to treat customers on their birthdays, ask for their birthdate.

However, ask just a few questions on your opt-in forms, or you'll lose the signup altogether. Beyond asking for an email address and phone number, ask just 1 or 2 more questions, max. Split-test different versions of your opt-in form to make sure you're not losing too many signups.

Better yet, use a multi-step signup form to ask additional questions after a customer has submitted their contact information.

3. Survey your subscriber list

Customer surveys allow you to gather valuable insights from your customers about their shopping experiences, pain points, and more. You can collect data to ensure product-market fit, inform product development, or improve customer experience.

Tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform can help you create customized surveys for your audience.

4. Use conversational popups 

Conversational popups allow you to engage with your customers in real time as they browse your website. You can help them along their purchase journey depending on their actions.

For example, you can use an exit-intent popup to help customers find what they're looking for. Then you can use their browsing history to provide suggestions or ask questions to help them navigate to the right products.

This is a great way to collect zero-party data for future campaigns while helping the shopper in the moment.

5. Ask questions after checkout

After a customer completes their order is an excellent opportunity to ask about their shopping experience.

Add a quick 1-2 question survey on the thank you page. For example, you could ask them how they discovered your brand or if anything could have improved their experience with your website.

6. Request product reviews

When customers leave a review for your products, you can use this feedback to identify any pain points hurting sales and adjust your messaging or product accordingly.

You can also tie this back to customer profiles. If someone gave your deodorant one star, you probably don't want to recommend it to them again. So you can focus marketing campaigns on other products they've rated well or might like.

Plus, the more reviews you have on your product pages, the more trustworthy your brand will appear to potential customers and the more likely they are to convert.

So, encourage your customers to leave reviews by including a call-to-action on your product pages or follow up after purchase with an email or text asking for feedback.

7. Add a preferences center

A preferences center gives your customers a central place to set their preferences for how you communicate with them. This can help you keep more subscribers because they're only getting the messages they want to receive.

A preferences center can also be a great place for shoppers to add profile information like demographics and interests.

In your preferences center, consider having fields where customers can choose communication frequency (like daily, weekly, or monthly) and content type (like product launches, blog posts, holiday emails, etc.).

Add any fields that would help you provide a better customer experience, like the customer's location, gender, birthday, apparel sizes, pets they own, sports they play -- whatever is relevant for your brand!

Leverage your zero party data with Emotive

Once you've collected zero party data from your customers, it's time to put it to use.

Use your zero party data on all your owned channels: your website, blog, app, email, and SMS. Any campaign you run on these channels will be better for it.

As you're considering fueling your SMS marketing program with customer data, consider using Emotive for SMS. Integrations make it easy to pull data in from your ecommerce platform, email marketing software, customer service conversations, and more so you can personalize SMS campaigns.

Emotive is also ideal for gathering zero party data. Use automated two-way conversations to ask about preferences and interests, run surveys, and even recommend products.

Learn more about Emotive and try it for free today.