How Zero-Party Data Helps Marketers Avoid Generational Stereotypes With Customers

For many businesses and marketers across a variety of industries, age is a primary opportunity to achieve insight into your audience. It’s a key strategy for segmenting, or categorizing, customers into different groups.

However, many companies still remain ineffective at targeting these different audience age groups (and other demographic factors). Sweeping generalizations about different age groups can not only result in consumer backlash, but the generalizations can result in a lower return on marketing investment simply because not every generalization applies to each person within those demographics.

Zero-party data’s inherent advantages

Recent changes to consumer privacy have resulted in third-party cookies being deprecated, and third-party data in general is becoming less effective. Many times, third-party data is inaccurate, out of date, and based on assumptions.

Instead, zero-party data has become the go-to source of more and better marketing insights. Zero-party data is information a customer freely and intentionally shares with a brand they trust. It can include personal insights like preferences, feedback, profile information, interests, consent, and purchase intent. It provides cleaner data, enables better customer experiences, and offers personalization and campaign optimization.

This evolution toward zero-party data in marketing will help marketers avoid making mass generalizations about age groups, simply because each person will no longer be lumped into the same category. Businesses should get to know their customers on a more intimate level.

I was recently attending a family reunion, and one of my cousins who happens to be a Boomer like me, and also is a nurse, was fumbling around trying to figure out her mobile phone. Her son cracked a joke about how it’s easy to operate the phone. My cousin quipped, “I may not know technology, but I can save your life in the event of a medical emergency.” While this example supports the boomer stereotype, that doesn’t mean they won’t respond to a properly targeted text message offer.

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We can no longer assume only certain marketing channels work

Marketers might previously view my cousin as someone who should only be communicated to via email or even snail mail. However, the proliferation of text messaging and mobile devices means that my cousin might actually prefer to receive a text message from one of her favorite brands and respond more immediately as opposed to the dozens of offers she receives via email each day. Companies can only know this if they take the time to get to know her on a more personal level.

Marketing on a one-to-one basis requires careful planning and campaign deployment. You need to build rapport with customers, ask them to share their preferences, consents and insights and then build campaigns that have a higher propensity to reach and resonate with them.

This doesn’t mean you should completely ignore key insights and understandings based on demographic data, but it should work in concert with customer provided insights to fine tune campaigns. For example, maybe your standard messaging is appropriate for one customer but they prefer a different channel. Or messaging needs to be changed to reflect a unique interest or life situation. Lastly, it’s important to leverage appropriate marketing technology so that you can truly leverage all tools and resources available.

Benefits of leveraging zero-party data

Giving customers a voice and control of their data is a vital step for marketers. There are several benefits of collecting zero-party data:

  • it is unique to the brand and no other brand has the same data;
  • it’s the ultimate source of truth in that the customer offers up their own insight, rather than making assumptions based on big data or generational stereotypes and;
  • it is relationship-based so it relies on a higher level of trust with the customer, which means the company must be transparent about their use of the data and
  • the relationship must be mutually beneficial. Businesses should provide value in exchange for the data customer share.

The key to all of this is that businesses in every industry, no matter their size or location, must change the way they engage and interact with their customers. They must build trust so that their customers and prospects are willing to share personal insights with them.

With these new understandings in place, marketers and businesses will build better relationships with their customers and achieve a higher ROI on their marketing investments as they eliminate the wasteful spending they encountered through the use of third-party data.

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