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8 First-Party Data Collection Strategies for Brick & Mortar Businesses

Data Collection

Data is a crucial driver in marketing. Read on to learn about first-party data collection & 8 First-Party Data Collection Strategies for Brick & Mortar Businesses.

It’s no secret that we have entered the age of consumer privacy. New guidelines like GDPR and CCPA, new features released by Apple, and recent announcements made by Google about cookie deprecation are all pointing to the same thing: giving consumers increased transparency and control over their personal data will be the norm moving forward. And with that control comes the ability to impede many of the tried-and-true methods marketers have been using to collect data and target consumers. 

One of the more significant changes occurred with the Apple iOS 14.5 update, which gave users the opportunity to decline cross-app data sharing via an explicit opt-out notification screen. And here we are, only weeks after the release, and new research shows that 96% of US users are opting out of data tracking. 

The implications are clear: with such severe limitations to third-party data-sharing, marketers’ ability to target ads will severely decline—unless they lean into first-party data.

First-party data is data collected by the business directly from consumers. Typically, the data refers to a consumer’s email address or phone number, but it may take many forms. Because an email is used so ubiquitously as part of online registration or checkout processes, it has come to represent a consumer’s de facto online identity. 

Online consumer identity in the form of an email address is becoming increasingly valuable because it offers three important features that anonymous cookies cannot: it is consistent, persistent, and actionable across platforms. These characteristics are what makes this data an essential foundation for developing a deep understanding of customers through segmentation, modeling, and lifetime value analyses. 

By connecting a customer’s activity across channels via a unique identifier, brands are able to understand the customer journey holistically and decide what types of marketing and messaging should be exposed to the consumer along the way. For example, if a customer orders takeout from my website once a month, I might try to promote a special to them via email or paid social to encourage a second purchase or visit to dine in.

So how do businesses collect more customer email addresses?

Most, if not all, online brands inherently engage in some form of first-party data collection. This may come in the form of a pop up upon site entry offering a discount off today’s purchase if they opt in to a newsletter, or even requiring sign up and login to access content.

Although first-party data collection may be second-nature for online brands, it’s brick-and-mortar businesses which have significantly more challenges collecting customer data. Analog tactics like newsletter sign-up forms, comment cards on tables, and business card drops are inefficient at best and very difficult to scale.  

The best way to determine how and when to activate data collection strategies is by understanding the customer journey and identifying relevant value exchanges to incentivize data capture.

This allows the business to identify organic opportunities for data collection without being disruptive or inappropriate.

With the need for first-party data now more critical than ever, here are eight data collection strategies brick-and-mortar businesses can leverage at their physical locations:

  1. Leverage guest WiFi to collect customer data: This one is a no-brainer. Including a sign-in to your free WiFi is not only affordable, but it creates a strong value exchange between business and customer. While it’s a known fact that customers really (really) want WiFi, merchants should also note that over half of customers spend more at businesses that offer free WiFi.
  2. Build incentives that promote data sharing: We’ve all seen the online version of this: that immediate pop up saying you’ll 10% off in exchange for your email. Consider ways to do this in-store: building incentives into your WiFi sign on portal, giving a discount at purchase for providing an email address or phone number, or implementing a rewards program (beyond punch cards). Providing customers with incentives to keep engaging with a brand ensures that companies can continue to collect the most up-to-date data.
  3. Integrate POS data for the most accurate insights: Another effective way to collect first-party data is by incorporating data collection right at the point of sale. Some examples include asking for customer emails to send e-receipts or directly asking customers to sign up for a loyalty program.
  4. Have customers complete satisfaction surveys: Similar to comment cards, surveys are a way to make customers feel they have some say in how a business they patronize is run while at the same time make it easy to collect first-party data from them. Surveys can be printed on receipts, placed on tablets near checkout, or sent via email.
  5. Run giveaways and contests: By offering regular sweepstakes, raffles, and contests, businesses can create excitement around their brands while collecting first-party data. Remember, however, that it’s important to host these digitally to maintain efficiency. These events can take place intermittently throughout the year in order to keep the data fresh and accurate.
  6. Prominently feature signage to promote sign-ups: Remember to leverage all customer touchpoints to promote sign ups. Businesses can use receipts, packaging, and table tents to encourage customers to sign up for mailing lists, connect to WiFi, or be directed to company websites—all of which grow your first-party data.
  7. Create a birthday club: Everyone loves to feel good on their birthday. By offering customers special deals on their special day, businesses can create a great opportunity to directly collect first-party data. Customers can submit their emails and birth dates to receive unique rewards on their birthdays.

Host free events for patrons: Now that COVID-19 restrictions are loosening, businesses can once again host in-store events that can be excellent sources for cultivating first-party data. By holding free events that require registration, businesses can collect customer data in-person and in real time.

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Megan Wintersteen
Megan Wintersteen is Vice President of Marketing at Zenreach. Wintersteen joins Zenreach with more than 12+ years experience, most recently as the VP of Marketing at Bowlero Corporation where she led all marketing initiatives as well as their ecommerce platforms with a focus on improving brand touchpoints and customer experience.

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