Over recent months we’ve heard a lot about data ethics and how the processes of harvesting customer data are changing. And for the record, that’s a conversation we support whole heartedly. But in the swirl and hype of the latest jargon-du-jour, I think we may be looking past some of the more important questions. Let me explain.
For years (decades?) third-party data sourcing (appending, matching, etc.) were perfectly acceptable practices. For most of that time, marketers lived in an analog world of direct mail and while nobody really liked the idea of being profiled and targeted, it was nonetheless considered “ok” on some level. But the internet happened and third-party data was suddenly available everywhere and hungry marketers had (some are still having) an absolute field day.
I’ll try not to abuse the analogy but the crazy over-indulgence of third-party data has created a massive hangover. For marketers and for consumers.
Forrester seems to have coined the term “zero-party” data in an effort to point marketers toward more ethical customer interactions. But even that term seems to be taking on some unintended meaning. Because it has been sourced directly from the consumer, we’re starting to hear “zero-party-data” tossed around as something of a catch-all for good data practices. And that leaves me a little uneasy.
Just because that information has been sourced from the customer, does that necessarily imply that the customer freely offered it up? Does it mean that the customer knows, and is in agreement with your use of it? The answer, often, is no.
There are degrees of ethical.
For one of our previous reports I had spoken with the head of data and strategy for a large (very large) healthcare company who, although they own and process an incredible amount of personal data, are resolved to only gather as much data as their business purpose demands and not a digit more. The point is – at least as it relates to customer data – just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
And obtaining data, no matter how ethically done, says nothing of its utility – sourcing and use are two very different propositions. Put another way, does zero-party data mean that its’ any more useful?
3radical first pointed out some of those differences to us in a series of discussions we had several months ago. They were insistent that their methods could produce deep engagement and loyalty metrics while delivering customer data that was the result of a mutually beneficial value exchange.
In theory, that kind of openly obtained data would produce deeper consumer insight, allow for deeper levels of engagement, and would ultimately enable brands to serve their customers more effectively.
3radical commissioned TheCustomer to explore the effectiveness of that “earned” data. We did so by examining two very distinct case studies and analyzing their resultant data, and then by applying those same processes to our own efforts here at TheCustomer. Our Special Report provides an objective view into the engagement mechanics deployed and the value of the data they produced through a series of real-world use-case evaluations.
What we found was, in a word, compelling. What I hope you’ll find in this report could be transformative for the ways your organization interacts with your customers, for mutual benefit, over the long term.
Founder & Editor in Chief, TheCustomer