3 Ways Retail Brands Can Safely Target Consumers With First-Party Data

In a privacy-first digital landscape, third-party data won’t cut it for retail brands. 

Currently, 77% of web users are addressable via third-party cookies, but by next year, only 13% will be addressable. On top of that, 96% of iPhone users have opted out of tracking on iOS 14.5. What’s a marketer to do?

Own your data, of course.

Owning customer data gives the power back to your brand: the power to build meaningful relationships with your customers and generate loyalty that lasts. “To power up your first-party data, list growth is key,” explains Megan Kresinske, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Wunderkind. “For example, if you’re a brand focusing on seasonal holidays, you should make your list as large as possible ahead of these critical marketing moments. Growing that data puts you in the best position to reach a breadth of targetable customers.”

What is first-party data?

First-party data is different from the third-party data you might borrow from Google or Facebook, as your company has directly collected this data from your customers. This can include demographics, technographics, prior interactions with your website, and contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers. 

This information is usually acquired through a value exchange, meaning you provide the prospect or customer with an offer (a webinar, a whitepaper, an event, etc.) and they provide you with their information in return. You can also collect first-party data by tracking users’ interactions on your website to inform their future digital experiences with you. 

“There are huge changes happening in big tech and the privacy landscape in terms of third-party cookie deprecation, which is making it harder for marketers to reach the right audience,” Kresinske says. “It’s vital to hone in on first-party data that your customers are willing to share. Not only does it create trust between you and the consumer, but it also allows you to leverage that information to build loyalty.”

How retail brands can utilize first-party data

So, how can you use first-party data through owned channels to safely target consumers? 

1. Use contextual retargeting 

With more than half of consumers concerned about the privacy of their digital data, marketers must adapt to protect potential customers. Contextual retargeting is a user-safe form of advertising that shows consumers advertisements that are relevant to the content they’re currently viewing. 

For example, if you’re viewing a vegan dinner recipe, you may be advertised vegan CPG food options—making your ad experience relevant without the need for cookies. You can also use this data to provide recommendations for other products, up-sell and cross-sell based on what they’ve already viewed, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates. As it becomes harder to reach users on iOS and Meta platforms, this proves to be an effective alternative. 

Source: Individuality Unleashed Live from Wunder! Data Privacy with Joshua Rockoff

2. Personalize email communications

Did you know that marketers see an average 20% increase in sales when using personalized experiences?  

Email marketing remains a powerful tool for marketers. Using your first-party data list, you can send personalized emails including alerts letting customers know that their favorite product is back in stock or discounts tailored to an item they’ve recently viewed. According to Dynamic Yield, 55% of consumers believe receiving targeted promotions and discounts creates a more enjoyable email experience. 

3. Send one-to-one text messages

Directly connecting with customers through their inboxes is powerful—and owning your customers’ first-party data is the way to do it. 

With SMS open rates as high as 98%, retail brands should leverage text within their marketing strategy. Your text strategy might include alerting customers to seasonal discounts, or offering support or information about your products. Many companies are even opting for two-way messaging systems where they can respond to their customers’ queries directly through their inboxes, creating a convenient and seamless buyer’s journey.

Be first to the first-party

Marketers: Don’t underestimate the power of first-party data. Using owned data to target retail shoppers offers a safe, consumer-first approach to personalization. 

“Marketers have to move away from relying on third-party data,” Kresinske says. “What worked yesterday won’t work today. The industry has pivoted to put the consumer first. By providing first-party data, consumers are giving brands the ability to do what they do today, but better. Why not capitalize on that value exchange?”   

Download our report, Personalization in a Privacy-First Landscape, to learn how to drive and measure performance while respecting consumer privacy. 


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Emily Black

Emily has a background in writing, specifically in the technology and eCommerce industry. After completing her MA she entered the eCommerce space, writing reports, blogs, and whitepapers. She aims to cut through the industry noise to bring clear insight to the Wunderkind community.