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From Data Zero to Marketing Hero with Stephanie Liu


Oh, data. We rely on it to make marketing decisions, deliver personalized experiences, and to segment and target our audiences (among a multitude of other uses). But the end result is only as good as the data you start with. And sometimes, purchased or inferred data is just wrong, leading to a domino effect of negative results for the consumer. 


Enter zero-party data. At its most basic form, zero-party data refers to data a consumer has voluntarily given to a company or organization, for the purposes of marketing to them in a more personal and meaningful way. Instead of assuming what a consumer wants, ask them! And offer something else in return. 


Forrester’s Stephanie Liu spoke at Signals 20 all about zero-party data. She offered examples of what leading brands are doing to collect this data and then put it to use. In her role at Forrester, Stephanie serves B2C marketing professionals. Her research focuses on marketing technologies, including marketing resource management and mobile engagement automation, as well as customer trust and privacy. She helps Forrester clients understand and navigate the rapidly changing landscapes of martech and privacy. Her research topics cover methods for marketers to drive efficiency and apply customer data in privacy-safe ways.


Watch Stephanie's session, "An Illustrated Guide to Collecting Zero Party Data," now


Zero party data is any data that a consumer chooses to share with you to engage with you. This can be a name or personal identifier, but it can also be preference or feedback information. In contrast, first-party data is data that a consumer has to share during a transaction, like a mailing address or billing zip code. A brand needs this information, it’s not optional. So — what are brands doing to collect this type of data? Stephanie shared a few examples of brands that stand out from rest.  




Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service in the United States. It uses recommendation algorithms and data science to personalize clothing items based on size, budget, and style. The Stitch Fix website has an extensive questionnaire about preferences, including how you feel about shopping, what you wear most often, cost preferences, and size information. Each question is presented by itself, instead of en masse. Each answer becomes a data point that Stitch Fix uses to present you with the best clothing and accessory option. They gather a great deal of data, but consumers provide it willingly so that Stitch Fix will send them clothing items that are tailored to them. 




Yelp develops, hosts, and markets the Yelp.com website and the Yelp mobile app, which publish crowd-sourced reviews about businesses. It also operates an online reservation service called Yelp Reservations. In this example, Yelp uses preferences as filters, not as decisions set in stone. As your dining needs change, due to travel, companions, the reason for dining out, etc., Yelp customizes recommendations based on your needs. And when Yelp can’t infer what you’re looking for, you receive a prompt for more information. From there, you’ll receive dining recommendations. 




Gillette is an American brand of safety razors and other personal care products including shaving supplies, owned by the multi-national corporation Procter & Gamble. In this example Stephanie shared from Gillette Mexico, a selector and assessment was put in front of any type of login. Doing so allowed consumers to make choices without creating any type of username and password. Graphics were also used to improve the experience. After choosing what you’re looking for, you receive personalized recommendations for shaving products. 


DOWNLOAD: The Zero-Party Data Playbook

My favorite quote from Stephanie was this:

“Too often, we have experiences that are like interrogations, not conversations.”

And that is so true! It’s important to step back and think about a customer relationship like one you’d have in real life. You’re not constantly asking them the same questions over and over when you already know the answer. Instead, you’re asking them clarifying questions and getting to know them better. For more from Stephanie Liu, check out her piece Straight From The Source: Collecting Zero-Party Data From Customers

Next up at Signals 2020, we’re focusing on all things Data-Driven Engagement. The week is full of thought leaders and expert panels looking at how marketers can create that organizational utopia: the golden customer record, and use that to deliver truly-personalized marketing. Check out the agenda to curate your week.


This article was first published by Cheetah Digital. Permission to use has been granted by the publisher.

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