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Zero-Party Data & Email Personalization: Surviving A Privacy-Concerned World

Picture this. You’re out having lunch with a few friends, the conversation turns to this beautiful purse you’ve been eyeing. Next thing you know, you’re checking Instagram and your feed is nothing but purses!

Obviously, it gets you wondering what else businesses are able to “overhear” from your life. This doesn’t feel too great. Actually, it’s quite creepy, and consumers have had enough of this type of sneaky tracking. The people have spoken and they want their privacy protected.

As a business owner, you may be wondering how you’re supposed to market to shoppers in a personalized way now. Well, it’s not as difficult to collect customer data as you may think. Moreover, the new strategies we’re about to dive into will actually build trust with your audience rather than making them feel uneasy.

Here’s the key: it’s not that shoppers aren’t okay with sharing personal information, it’s that they want to be able to decide when, where, and how much they share. Essentially, the power needs to be in their hands.

Since merchants are struggling with the impact of the new consumer privacy changes to iOS and third-party cookies. Facebook ad costs have skyrocketed, and driving new acquisition is an extremely frustrating process. In fact, in the second quarter of 2021 social media ad prices increased 14%, according to an article in Barron’s.

To combat these privacy changes, start learning more from your customers by collecting zero-party data, and using it to create personalized experiences for them at every touchpoint.

Email marketing is the best way to do this. By giving your subscribers value right out of the gate after they share personal information with you, they’ll be excited to continue engaging with your brand for the months and years to come.

Let’s review why zero-party data is an incredible source of information, and how you can use it to build long-lasting relationships.

Why are brands determined to get zero-party data?

Imagine how much more likely it is for customers to make a purchase when you’re recommending the exact products they prefer. (Here’s a hint: personalized emails are 26% more likely to be opened and 760% better at generating revenue.)

The best way to engage with customers in meaningful ways is to simply have them share personal information with you. In fact, 71% of consumers are inclined to share this information if it means getting personalized recommendations from brands, according to this consumer behavior report.

This is how you can get ahead of the iOS updates, and some businesses have already taken the right steps to get there.

One such brand is Satchel & Page. In a discussion the Fuel Made team had with the founder, they learned how this brand values the importance of a healthy, growing email list. It’s always been a priority for the founder. In fact, he was already skeptical of Facebook ads early on:

“I’ve never believed in Facebook data and attribution. We’ve always used Facebook and Instagram as a part of a comprehensive customer acquisition strategy, not as the only source of traffic. The iOS changes only reinforced this as we shifted ads from Facebook to Google and put greater importance on email marketing,” said Daniel Ralsky, founder of Satchel & Page.

But personalization goes beyond just emails——It should be embedded across the entire customer journey. For example, some of the lesser-known benefits of zero-party data include being able to…

  • Tailor your website experiences to recommend products based on shopping preferences.
  • Announce new products via SMS or email just to a segmented list that you know would be interested.
  • Target your paid ads even better than before by trusting your message and product recommendations are based on a customer’s need.
  • Learn which customers are more profitable for your business.
  • Understand what brand messaging will impact your audience the best.
  • Inform your content marketing strategy by knowing what interests customers most.
  • Discover a new audience you maybe didn’t know was shopping at your store before.

4 easy ways to collect zero-party data

Fuel Made is a team of email and CRO experts, so they have a few tricks up their sleeves for ways you can collect zero-party data and effectively grow your email list. Here are four to consider.

[1] Build on-site quizzes and surveys

Product recommenders, gift finders, style finders, routine builders, size finders, character matching, post-purchase surveys… the list goes on.

Every type of quiz engages first-time website visitors, collects zero-party data from them, and asks them to subscribe to your email marketing campaigns in order to get their quiz results. The data can then help you segment customers and personalize your email content.

To increase the chances of the customer sharing their contact information, offer an incentive like 10% off their first purchase. Also, make sure customers are aware of what they’re signing up for. Here’s an example from Naked Nutrition, which helps customers find the right protein or supplements based on their personal wellness goals.

[2] Use attributions from customer reviews

Similar to onsite quizzes and surveys, customer reviews are a great way to collect zero-party data by getting the customer to share personal attributes.

This helps apply context to their experiences with a product. Not only does this additional insight (i.e. height, age, product experience levels, hair color, etc.) help other shoppers contextualize their own purchase decisions, it also tells you much more about your individual customers.

A potential use case for this insight is steering product development based on consumers’ feedback. Perhaps it’s time for a new product iteration with a popular color, or maybe there are product elements that customers aren’t so keen on that it’s time to scale back.

You don’t have to guess based on your sales history anymore—customers will tell you precisely what they do and don’t love about specific products.

[3] Create welcome and exit-intent pop-ups

Pop-ups are pretty standard practice in ecommerce, but most people use them just to collect an email or SMS opt-in. You can and should ask for more.

For example, SASNola is a comfortable footwear brand. In the pop-up SASNola asks customers if they’re interested in women’s shoes or men’s shoes. This type of data informs what kind of email flow the customers get added to.

If you’re worried that asking additional questions will lower your capture rate, run a few tests where you ask your questions on a follow-up screen after customers share their emails.

[4] Share an email preference center

Customers don’t want to be emailed about promotions or product launches that aren’t relevant to their interests. Create an email preference center where customers can tell you exactly what type of content they want to receive from you (and what product lines they’re interested in most).

The tiniest bit of personalization can go a long way to improve your engagement rates on email. In fact, after asking customers via a pop-up if they were interested in Men and/or Women’s collections, American Tall was able to increase its welcome flow conversion rate by 2X (it now converts 11.06% of customers).

In addition to asking customers via a pop-up, you can send an email campaign asking them to update their preferences on a landing page.

In American Tall’s case, if someone places an order but hasn’t yet selected their preference, the brand asks the user to update it as part of its Post-Purchase email flow:

And these shoppers can update their preferences at any time in any email footer as well:

Now that you’ve seen a few ways to collect zero-party data, let’s dive into an example of a brand using it well.

The Anatomy of Premama’s Personalized Welcome Flow

Premama uses a pop-up to collect its zero-party data. In the pop-up, they ask women what stage they’re at in their pregnancy journey. Fuel Made used Justuno to build Premama’s pop-ups because of its strong technical and design capabilities, and because of its robust Klaviyo and Shopify integrations.

Premama collects zero-party data in the Justuno form and sends it to Klaviyo as a custom profile property. That data is then used to send highly personalized education and product recommendations to each subscriber.

For example, the first welcome email delivers their discount code then offers product recommendations and a link to a support group for their specific goal. You can see below that women already pregnant see different content than those trying to conceive.

Later on, women in early stages receive an email explaining which supplements will help them conceive, while pregnant women receive information on morning sickness.

Each of the four stages that subscribers enter includes its own journey of about twelve emails sent over a twenty-day period. The goal is to share the most relevant and helpful education to help them pick the right supplements.

On top of this highly tailored welcome experience, subscribers also enter different newsletter campaign buckets based on their stage setting.

Here are some example campaigns that went out to specific subscriber segments:

Since we continue to use this information for campaigns and for Post-Purchase flow emails, we had to make it easy for subscribers to update their stage at any time. With this goal in mind, we added a “update your stage” link in all email footers:

This leads to this stage update landing page:

When a subscriber updates their stage, they enter a segment that triggers a flow experience to introduce them to the products and information relevant to their new phase.

First, we congratulate them for entering this new chapter and thank them for letting us know about it:

Then for those who have never bought products from this stage’s collection, we introduce them to the most important items, and follow up with general information they’ll want to read about.

The power of personalization is at your fingertips

Now that you’ve seen the impact of zero-party data, it’s time to update your flows and campaigns so they speak well to your target audience and achieve your business goals.

AKA, make your own successful personalized email marketing strategy.

91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. Personalization isn’t the future—it’s the now. And zero-party data will make your marketing efforts more effective.

About the author

This article was written by Lisa Oberst, the Director of Email Marketing at Fuel Made. Fuel Made is a Shopify agency with a mission to help ecommerce companies grow on Shopify and Klaviyo. With a talented team of developers, designers, strategists, and copywriters, Fuel Made’s focus is on creating beautifully designed, conversion-focused website experiences, offering growth strategy consulting, and providing full-service email and SMS marketing.