What is First Party Data?

interpreting first party data on mobile phoen and tablet

Google is phasing out third party cookies, which means a zero and first party data strategy will be essential for companies to gain actionable customer insights. But what, exactly, is first party data, and how is it used? Let’s take a closer look at first vs zero party data as well as some common methods for collecting each. 

Zero Party Data

First, let’s discuss “zero party data.” Zero party data is so-called because there is no middle man between you and the customer. This is the data that your clients share willingly with you when prompted. It can provide a wealth of information about a customer, such as:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Contact information
  • Contact preferences (phone, email, text, etc.)
  • Occupation
  • Brand preferences
  • Shopping habits (online vs in person, etc.)
  • Feedback 

How is Zero Party Data Collected?

Zero party data is considered the most reliable source of customer data, since it is coming directly from the source. It is collected in a number of ways, from simple form fills to elaborate questionnaires. Some of the most common methods for gathering zero party data include:


Surveys are a great way to personalize your customers’ experiences with your brand. You ask a specific set of questions while stating your intent behind asking those questions. For example, a clothing brand might send an email survey to guests regarding their priorities concerning organic or recycled materials. Is it important to them? Would they be willing to pay a higher price for these materials? The survey could then be used toward greener manufacturing efforts to satisfy eco-conscious customers. 

Quizzes are another fun way to learn about your customer’s preferences regarding your product. Using the clothing brand example again, you might ask them to define their style (classic, trendy, etc.), what colors they like, and what other brands they like to wear. At a quiz “result,” you might then offer a list of items that are perceived as personalized for the quiz-taker. 

Feedback Questionnaires 

Customers like to know that you care about their opinions. Asking for feedback via a popup or email following a purchase can be a good way to accomplish this. 

Social Media

Social media is a great way to gain insights into your customers’ preferences and build your brand’s reputation. Comments on posts, likes, shares, etc. are all valuable feedback. You can also conduct polls on social media for a specific product or upcoming campaign. 

Why is Zero Party Data Important?

Zero party data is important for two reasons: 1) it is the most relevant and accurate data regarding your customers; and 2) it is freely given, meaning it is viewed as the most trustworthy means of data collection. Third party cookies are being phased out primarily because of concerns about consumer safety: the farther away data gets from the source, the more vulnerable it becomes. Zero party data collection and complete transparency for its use will be key in data strategies going forward. 

Furthermore, zero party data requires little to no interpretation. It is either straight forward information, such as a name and gender, or it is direct feedback based on a specific question. It is clear, concise, relevant, and true information that can be implemented right away or used for future strategies. 

What is First Party Data?

First party data is collected directly from customers via software or trackers, such as first-party cookies. This includes familiar analytics, such as:

  • Page views
  • Clicks
  • Time spent on page
  • Purchase history
  • Subscriptions

Unlike zero party data, first party data may be collected without the direct knowledge of the consumer. However, it is still a vital part of a company’s data strategy, since it provides actionable insights regarding customer behavior and preferences. It is nearly as reliable as zero party data, and there are far fewer security concerns than with second or third party data. This is because first party data is not shared with anyone else. It exists solely for the benefit of the business and to enhance the customer experience. 

First Party Data Advantages

Zero party data is useful for learning customer preferences and certain habits. It is not as useful, however, in discovering the reasons behind those habits. A customer may be less inclined to discuss why they did not ultimately purchase a product.

First party data can help you track the buyer’s journey and answer questions like: how many repeat customers do I have? Who are the people completing a purchase vs those who drop off? What time of day are buyers most active? What income do my customers typically have? The answers to these questions and more can help you tailor your marketing strategy to that it targets exactly the right people and identify areas for improvement in the customer experience. 

First party data can also alert you to technical issues that may cost you customers. For example, a sudden drop in web activity during an otherwise busy time of day could indicate a server issue, which you can quickly remedy. 

First Party Data Interpretation

Unlike zero party data, first party data requires analysis. It is often presented as a dashboard or other visual method to facilitate understanding; however, this is not always as easy as it sounds. Creating a dashboard requires precise knowledge of the data you wish to track. For example, you will need to align your company’s goals with certain key performance indicators (KPIs). You will also need to know which metrics to choose for each KPI, and how to interpret them. 

This is not necessarily something a business owner has time for. That is where outsourcing your data to an experienced analytics consultant can be extremely helpful. At Impact by Insight, we create customized dashboards to assist with both immediate and long-term company goals. We will help you select which data to incorporate into your dashboard and recommend solutions based on our interpretation of that data. 

We continually monitor and adapt your analytics dashboard to be as accurate, relevant, and timely as possible. We also prioritize security, recognizing the need for constant vigilance to prevent cyber attacks and maintain absolute privacy. We collaborate with all sorts of businesses and are excited to see how we can help you put your data to work. Call or go online today to get started. 

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