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What Is First-Party Data

What is First-Party Data and How to Collect It

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Collecting first-party data is becoming more and more important. The rise of data protection regulations have impacted businesses internationally, especially those that take a data-driven approach to marketing.

Rightfully, people are concerned with how their data is collected and the level to which it is protected by businesses. However, that’s doesn’t mean that digital marketing efforts have to come to a halt altogether.

Instead, this has meant that businesses have started to move away from third-party data collection and pivoted to focus on first-party data collection instead.

What is first-party data?

First-party data is information that’s collected from a customer or client who is the primary source of that information.

Here are some examples of sources for this kind of data:

  • Survey and form data
  • Registration data
  • Customer support
  • Social media data
  • CRM data
  • Email and SMS

What are second and third-party data?

Second-party data is best described as first-party data that is passed onto you by other businesses or organizations. These second-parties would be trusted partners who have collected the data in a transparent and compliant way directly from the data subjects.

Any of the above data sources are considered second-party if the information is purchased from or given by another company.

Third-party data is data that’s obtained from a source that is not the collector of the information. For example, aggregators that collect data from multiple sources and then sell it on to you.

What Are The Benefits of Having First-Party Data?

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the benefits of collecting this type of data.


Firstly, you can ensure that this data is as accurate as possible, as it is being given to you directly.

As this data is so accurate, it gives you the best understanding of your audience and their behaviour. This makes it easier to create effective targeted marketing campaigns that perform better than ever.

For instance, this information can be used to determine which products or services are most popular with specific groups of customers and to develop marketing strategies that capitalize on those trends.

Easy of collection

Secondly, it’s incredibly easy to collect. It’s likely you already have this data on record in one of the sources listed in the previous section.


Having access to this kind of data allows you to better perosnalize content, which can go a long way in building trust and relationships with your leads.

This should go beyond just including names or job titles in your emails. Whilst it’s good to create personalized experiences, there is much more value in delivering something more meaningful to your customers.

You need to think about the wants, needs, and interests of your audience to create content and new products that specifically address those.


Thirdly, this is a much more cost-effective option as you aren’t involving any additional tools or companies (that aren’t already part of your activities) in order to collect the data.


Avoiding any third-party involvement also means that you have full control over the data you collect. This is especially important if the data in question is sensitive or it can be used to give you an edge over competitors.


Finally, it’s far more compliant than its third-party alternative.

It’s far easier to justify your lawful basis for processing first-party data, as there are no third-parties involved that you’d need to write assessments for and explain why they are essential to the collection of the data.

However, you’ll still need to collect explicit consent from data subjects where there is no other lawful basis for processing their data.

How to collect first-party data

There are many ways to collect first-party data, and we’ll focus on some of the easiest and cost-effective strategies below.

Surveys and forms

Collecting first-party data with surveys is as simple as asking questions about your respondents. This is a very cost-effective method as you can create surveys for free. The major benefit to this method is the versatility in what types of data you can collect.

For example, you can use simple forms to collect basic information on your leads and customers to start growing your audience data. Then, you can expand into more detailed demographic data to build on what you already know about them. But it doesn’t end here, you can ask for feedback and even reviews improve relationships and increase retention.

More advanced tools, like FreeOnlineSurveys, will allow you to pass all of this information into a CRM. Where you’ll be able to use custom fields to create a single point of knowledge for each contact and assess all feedback they’ve given in surveys.

Registration data

Asking your site visitors to create an account with you is an incredibly easy way of collecting first-party data. If you have an app or store, the incentive should be fairly self-explanatory. However, if you don’t have an obvious reason for visitors to create an account, you’ll have to be a little more creative.

For example, you could create content gateways that give visitors access to hidden content in exchange for creating an account. Alternatively, you could offer discounts to registered users. Anything that makes visitors feel as though they’ve receiving something in return for their personal information will go a long way in building trust and loyalty.

Customer support

Another viable methods for collecting this type of data is by utilizing the communications generated through customers support. Whether this is done by email, live chat software, or by phone, you can update customer profiles with anything insights you pick up about customers during your conversation.

Support queries can provide some of the best insights into customer wants and needs. For example, if you’re providing support for a SaaS company, some things to keep notes of are feature requests or UI recommendations. Anything that can improve customer experience is essential to keep note of.

This kind of information can tell you how much of your customer based feel the same way, which should be an indicator that adding that feature or streamlining your software would have a palpable affect on retention and loyalty.

Event tracking

First-party data doesn’t always mean personal information, it can also apply to behavioural data. Of course, behavioural data is all the more powerful when it’s linked to personal data, as you can get views at the individual level as well as a bird-eye level.

The kinds of events you can track are really only limited by your imagination. Some common examples would be:

  • Registrations
  • Abandoned carts
  • Purchase activity
  • CTA engagement
  • Feature usage

Something to keep in mind when creating events is to think about the customer journey. What are the most likely touch points and milestones for customers?

Mapping these out and creating specific events for them allows you .to identify where there is more friction, lower conversion rates, and more drop-outs.

There’s a plethora of event tracking tools out there, and there even cookieless tracking solutions which allow you to track traffic and create events. It’s best to do some research and find out what would be the best fit for your company.

Email subscriptions

This is a big one, collecting first-party data via subscriptions to an email newsletter is an extremely popular strategy. Not only can you collect names and email addresses as part of the subscription form, but you also gain access to email metrics such as open-rates and click-rates.

This strategy combines very well with surveys, which you can share by email invitation and use to build on your existing information.

Building a library of knowledge on your audience puts you on a path to delivery personalized content that knocks their socks off and turns them into advocates for your business.

How you can use first-party data to improve your marketing strategy

There are several ways that you can use first-party data to improve your marketing strategy. One way is to determine which products or services are most popular with your customers and promote these products or services accordingly. This can help you attract new customers and increase sales.

Another way is to develop marketing plans that are specifically tailored to the needs of your customer base. This can help you target potential customers more effectively than ever before.

Finally, it can be used to create buyer personas and understand customer behavior. This information can help you create more effective customer retention strategies and improve customer service overall.

Wrapping up

First-party data is an important source of information for companies due to it’s accuracy, ease-of-collection, and how in naturally lends itself to compliance. We’ve covered some of the best ways to collect this type of data, which we’ll summarize here:

  • Surveys and forms
  • Registration data
  • Customer support
  • Event tracking
  • Email subscriptions

There are many more ways to integrate this data into your marketing efforts. If you have a good example, get in touch and we’ll add it to the article.

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