In January 2020, Google dropped a bombshell: the upcoming sunsetting of third-party marketing cookies in its Chrome browser. Google initially set the stage for a 2022 cutoff but later postponed it to 2024 with the first 1% of Chrome users saying “bye” to cookies in the first quarter. The full-blown phase-out is slated for the second half of 2024. But why all the fuss?
Cookies are data treasure troves, gathering precious insights into online web users such as:
Digital cookie crumbs of their past searches
This treasure trove fuels the finely tuned digital ads that have become part of our daily browsing lives.
Google's Chrome isn't the first browser to draw a line in the sand, but it is the largest. The web giant holds almost two-thirds of the global browser market. And its cookie crackdown effectively marks the end of cookies.
In today’s digital landscape, where data reigns supreme, what does the death of cookies mean for B2B businesses? How can you navigate and thrive in the post-cookie era? The answer: first-party data.
To understand how you can smoothly transition and help your business thrive, you’ll learn:
What a first-party data strategy for B2B businesses looks like
How compliance and privacy work with first-party data
Tools and techniques for leveraging it
B2B best practices for 1st-party data
So let’s start at the beginning, with a definition.
What exactly is first-party data?
First-party data is the information that your business collects directly from your customers or website visitors, making it the most reliable data collection source. This collection can come from:
Forms on your website (e.g., newsletter sign-ups)
Insights from your CRM or marketing automation software
Information gathered from feedback forms or surveys
In-person events like trade shows or conferences
Interactions on your social media channels
First-party data includes information on demographics, purchase history, interests and more. But what exactly makes 1st-party data so important for B2B companies?
Top 3 reasons why is first-party data so valuable
While third-party data may cast a wide net, it often lacks the accuracy and reliability that businesses crave. By contrast, first-party data collection delivers direct customer insights.
1. Accuracy and reliability
When it comes to data, accuracy and reliability are paramount, and this is where first-party data shines. First-party data comes directly from your own interactions with customers or website visitors. It's more reliable because it reflects real-world interactions and behaviors, providing a crystal-clear view of your audience's preferences and actions.
By contrast, third-party data can be a bit like navigating through murky waters. It often involves aggregated information from various sources, making it prone to inaccuracies and lacking the precision needed for targeted marketing efforts.
2. Learn more about your customers and their preferences
Through first-party data collection, you can gain unparalleled insights into customer behaviors, preferences, and engagement patterns. Tracking website interactions, purchase history, and feedback gives you a vivid picture of your audience. This allows you to develop product enhancements that resonate with customers and solve their problems.
First-party data is like a compass guiding businesses toward a customer-centric approach with more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.
Dealfront’s Leadfeeder helps you use your first-party data to build stronger customer relationships by translating anonymous traffic into actionable insights. It unveils the identities of businesses exploring your site so you can understand their interests and needs. This invaluable first-party intent data equips your sales team with the knowledge required for precise and effective prospecting.
Activity feed within the Leadfeeder tool showing website visitor activity
3. Highly targeted and personalized marketing
A well-crafted first-party data strategy can empower your B2B businesses to execute highly targeted marketing with precision, enriching the customer journey at every stage. This benefit of first-party data is likely why more and more brands are exclusively using first-party data to personalize their marketing—31% of brands in 2021, and 37% in 2022.
When you harness the insights gleaned from direct customer interactions, you can tailor your messaging, content, and product offerings to align with individual preferences and pain points. This personalized approach not only captures attention, but also nurtures leads throughout the funnel: from initial awareness to conversion and beyond.
Imagine a B2B SaaS company in financial services specializing in investment analytics. It uses first-party data from its prospect, Company D, in the following way:
The SaaS company collects demographic data from Company D, including the job titles and roles of key decision makers. It learns that the CFO and financial analysts are actively engaged in their software exploration.
Company D’s decision makers receive a series of personalized emails tailored to their roles and responsibilities. The CFO receives content about ROI and financial forecasting. While financial analysts get insights into data visualization and reporting capabilities.
The SaaS company tracks Company D's website activity and notes that its personnel frequently visit specific product pages related to risk analysis and portfolio management.
In response to their website behavior, Company D’s team members receive targeted content such as case studies and whitepapers focusing on risk management within their industry.
This is all great news for businesses, but how does all this data collection fit into the scope of data compliance and privacy regulations?
Compliance and privacy with 1st-party data
First-party data would be useless if you couldn’t use it due to privacy or data protection regulations. To make sure that your precious data doesn’t go to waste, collect first-party data with the explicit consent of the individuals involved for the use you are intending. Explain in correct and easy-to-understand language why and how you collect, process and store data.
Only collect necessary data for the intended purpose. For example, a name and email address if you want them to sign up for a newsletter. You also need to give individuals full control over their data. Make it transparent and easy for people to access, correct, or delete their information.
Put robust security measures in place to protect first-party data from breaches or unauthorized access.
Compliance with these regulations safeguards privacy, fosters trust, and enhances transparency. When individuals see that a company is committed to responsible data handling, it builds trust in the brand.
5 B2B business benefits of first-party data
You may think that this seems less of a win for your B2B business than with 3rd-party data, but you’d be wrong. Here’s how 1st-party data boosts your business growth:
1. Product and services improvement
When your company directly captures customer feedback, usage patterns, and pain points, you gain valuable insights into areas that require improvement or innovation. This data-driven approach allows you to fine-tune your offerings, address specific client needs, and stay ahead of market trends.
Whether it's refining existing features or developing new solutions, first-party data helps you ground your product and service enhancements in real-world customer experiences and preferences.
2. Optimizes marketing strategies
First-party data empowers B2B businesses to optimize marketing strategies with precision. Analyzing customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history lets you segment your audience for hyper-targeted marketing campaigns. These deliver the right message to the right prospects at the right time.
Additionally, first-party data helps identify high-performing channels and content so you can allocate resources more efficiently and maximize ROI. For example, you run a B2B manufacturing company that produces industrial machinery. And you notice that some customers regularly purchase spare parts and maintenance services, while others primarily invest in new equipment. With this data, you could segment your audience into two categories: "maintenance-focused" and "expansion-focused" clients.
The first-party data reveals that maintenance-focused clients often require replacement parts and maintenance services. To target them effectively, you could send personalized email reminders for routine maintenance, along with exclusive offers on spare parts. It also provides valuable content on equipment upkeep through webinars and blog posts.
On the other hand, clients focused on expansion frequently invest in new machinery. You can effectively use their data to identify the specific industries or sectors these clients operate in. Next, tailor your marketing campaigns to highlight the benefits of your latest machinery for those industries. Build upon that and offer consultations and demonstrations to showcase how the new equipment can boost productivity.
3. Enables data-driven decision making
With first-party data, you can analyze customer behavior, preferences, and interactions to identify trends and patterns that inform key decisions. For example, what if the data reveals that a long-time customer has significantly reduced their usage of your software platform? You can proactively reach out with personalized offers or support to re-engage and retain that customer.
This data-driven approach reduces guesswork and uncertainty, enabling you to allocate resources more effectively and make agile adjustments to changing customer behavior.
4. Cost-effectiveness vs. third-party data
First-party data is inherently more cost-effective because you collect it directly from interactions with customers or website visitors. This is often at a minimal acquisition cost.
By contrast, you typically buy third-party data from external sources, incurring expenses that can quickly add up.
5. Reduction of dependence on external sources
In addition to saving money by relying less on external sources for data, you increase your company’s self-reliance. This shift towards self-reliance empowers you to have greater control and ownership of your data assets.
Instead of relying on potentially expensive and less reliable third-party data providers, you can tap into your own customer interactions, behaviors, and preferences. This reduces costs associated with data acquisition and mitigates the risks related to data accuracy and compliance.
To get the full benefits of first-party data, you’ll need tools and techniques to help you handle it.
Tools and techniques for leveraging first-party data
Leveraging first-party data effectively is crucial for B2B businesses aiming to make data-driven decisions and enhance customer experiences. To get ahead with first-party data collection, make use of CRM systems like Salesforce and HubSpot enable you to track customer interactions, segment your audience, and personalize outreach based on historical data. Tools like Marketo and Pardot allow you to automate marketing campaigns based on first-party data insights. You can send targeted emails, trigger actions, and nurture leads based on customer behaviors.
Software like Dealfront Datacare helps you review, cleanse, enrich, and optimize your data records, primarily within your preferred CRM system. Tools like Tableau and Google Analytics help you make sense of your first-party data by visualizing trends, patterns, and key performance indicators. This enables data-driven decision-making.
With the right tool stack in place, you can employ best practices with your first-party data.
First-party data best practices
Collecting and managing first-party data effectively is pivotal for B2B companies looking to thrive in today's data-driven landscape. Here are some best practices to guide this process:
Prioritize clear communication and consent in data collection processes to build trust and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations.
Maintain the accuracy and quality of your data by regularly auditing and cleansing your database to remove inaccuracies and outdated information.
Implement robust security measures to protect customer data from breaches or unauthorized access, ensuring the safety of collected data and compliance with GDPR.
Segment your data into meaningful categories based on behavior, preferences, or demographics to enable targeted marketing and personalized customer experiences.
Establish clear data governance policies and assign roles and responsibilities for data management to ensure accountability and compliance.
With these best practices in place, you can start making plans for using first-party data at your company.
First-Party Data: Your Proactive Response to the Changing Data Landscape
Google's disappearing third-party cookies marks a monumental shift in data collection and privacy. The demise of these cookies, which have long fueled targeted digital advertising, requires a proactive response. The solution is with a solid first-party data strategy.
First-party data offers accuracy and reliability, allowing for highly targeted and personalized marketing efforts that nurture leads throughout the funnel. It helps you optimize product offerings, make informed decisions, and reduce costs by reducing reliance on expensive third-party data sources. Having the right tools to support your first-party data strategy that are data processing and privacy compliant will be what puts you ahead of the competition.