Wondering how to collect and use zero-party data? This free e-guide will help you get to know your customers with surveys. Plus, examples from big brands.

Table of Contents

  • What is zero-party data?
  • Zero-party versus first-party data 
  • What about third-party data?
  • The benefits of a zero-party data strategy
  • Exactly how to create that strategy 
  • How to collect zero-party data 
  • Zero-party data and TikTok 
  • Examples: How big brands use zero-party data 
  • Glossary of terms  
  • How to use KNO to turn zero-party data into action

It’s 2023. Experts agree that zero-party data is the future for marketers and e-commerce brands. This guide will walk you through how to use zero-party data to get to know your customers and drive action. Buckle up.

What Is Zero-Party Data?

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of zero-party data strategy, let’s settle on a shared definition. For the sake of this guide: Zero-party data is data that a customer “intentionally and proactively shares with a brand, usually through surveys and polls. It’s a term coined by Forrester Research (way back in 2018) that’s also sometimes referred to as “explicit data.” This freely given intel might include purchase motivation, brand discovery details, buying preferences, or even birthdays. 

Because you’re getting this information directly from the source, marketers widely consider zero-party data to be the most accurate form of data. Zero-party data can also be used to fill holes in your marketing data, e.g. a way of tracking all those customers who come from TikTok that don’t turn up in your GA Referrals numbers. It’s also arguably the least icky — no sneaky tracking required. 

Zero-party data, sometimes called “explicit data,” is data that a customer “intentionally and proactively shares with a brand,

Usually through surveys and polls. Because you’re getting this information directly from your customer, zero-party data is considered the most accurate form of customer data.

What Zero-Party Data is Not 

Zero-party data is not “implicit data,” or any data you collect on your customers that they don’t proactively give you. In other words: The sneaky stuff that privacy laws have been cracking down on recently.

Zero-Party Versus First-Party Data 

So: zero-party data = information freely given to you by your customer. First-party data is the information you collect on your customer from your sources and channels. This might include social media, mobile apps, websites, Shopify, email triggers, or SMS.  

The biggest advantage of first-party data is that you own it. But…it’s a lot of data. And it takes a lot of work on your company’s part to sift through it. There’s also a certain amount of guesswork and room for error. 

So, while first-party data is important for digital marketing or ad-buying efforts, zero-party data is more reliable and digestible. And that’s why zero-party data is essential to any marketing strategy.

What about Second-Party and Third-Party Data?

Second-party and third-party data are sort of like cousins twice or three times removed, which means you know a lot less about them, and you can’t always count on them to show up for you.

Second-party data is actually first-party data that another company collects, packages, and sells. Pros: More information on your customers. Cons: Not always trust-worthy, and also, customers dislike the idea of their data being bought and sold! 

Third-party data is basically “big data,” in that a company aggregates data from multiple sources, then sells it as a package on a data exchange platform. That means more volume, which is both a pro (power in numbers!) and a con (more room for error). Third-party data is also typically sold to many companies, including potentially your competitors.
KNO’s Takeaway: You must know and trust the source if you purchase second-party or third-party data. Not everyone selling data out there is reliable, and many sources are at least ethically questionable.