First-Party Data - What is it and Why Do You Absolutely Need It?

August 09, 2021

First-party data is data that you collected yourself from your visitors and followers. By definition, YOU are the “first party” because you collected the data firsthand with permission from your audience.

What is Considered First-Party Data?

Examples of first-party data include:

  • Customers: With each purchase, you get valuable information about your customers, including their email address, name, physical address, and more. The personal information they give you at the time of the transaction is first-party data. How you use it (remarketing, promotional offers, etc.) is dependent on your Terms of Service.
  • Subscribers: Any newsletter sign ups, form fills, or other email-generating forms on your website are considered first party data. Gathering email subscribers should be a key focus in growing your first-party data.
  • Site Visitors: Though privacy policies and Terms of Service vary per company, your site visitor’s activity is also considered first party data. These include behavioral signals like which pages are being viewed, how long visitors are staying on your website, and which links are being clicked.
  • Social Media Followers: Any information you get from your followers on social media is considered first-party. This is different from using a social ads platform for paid targeting – we are talking about people who choose to opt-in and follow your social profiles. They have given you their information by following you and interacting with your brand on social.
  • Mobile App Usage: Depending on Terms of Use, when a customer downloads your app, their activity on it is considered first party because they opted-in when deciding to download your app.
  • Customer Surveys: Any input you get from customer surveys is considered first party data. Positive and negative feedback collected directly from your customers is invaluable.

Screenshot of Newsletter Sign Up to Generate First Party DataSAMPLE: Newsletter "Exit Pop-Up" to Generate Newsletter Subscribers

Why is First-Party Data Important?

Why do you need to gather so much information about your customers and prospects anyway? As it turns out, 58% of American consumers are willing to give their personal data in exchange for:

  1. Valuable information
  2. Ease of services

In addition, with the sunset of 3rd party cookies in the near future, first-party data will eventually be the best and most reliable ways to effectively remarket to prospects and analyze user behavior.

Third Party Cookie Changes | What To Do

Related Reading: Cookie-Geddon! The Death of the Third-Party Cookie

Read On »


First-party data is important because it gives businesses critical data about what your prospects want to know about you, and why your customers should return to you.

Top Ways to Use First-Party Data

#1. Remarketing/Customer Match Audience Advertising

Customer lists can be manually added or integrated with ads platforms via a CRM to serve relevant remarketing ads. For example, HubSpot lists can integrate with Google Ads and Facebook ads to send your subscriber lists dynamically (and in real-time) to the ads platforms, matching their online user profile with the email address they gave you. Remarketing adds valuable touchpoints to your brand after visitors leave your website.

#2. Email Nurturing

After earning a lead in the form of an email address, you can send an email welcome series to your new leads to nurture them towards a purchase. Emails collected from abandoned cart transactions are also highly valuable, allowing you to re-engage with “lost” prospects.

#3. Sales Process Optimization

Data analysis from your first-party data can help your sales team identify opportunities to improve the sales process. Website visitors, customers, and social followers are telling you with their actions what they are interested in – asking for their email at specific stages of their buying journey will improve their experience.

#4. Market and Product Research & Customer Feedback

Use the data you get from your website visitors and followers for market and product opportunities. Which pages are being visited the most? Which posts are getting the most engagement? Are you noticing a certain demographic interacting with your content more than your target demographic?

#5. Lookalike Audiences

Building a robust first-party list gives you the ability to create a “lookalike” or “similar to” audience list for ad platforms. If you have a list of current customers or newsletter subscribers, ad platforms can serve an audience with similar characteristics.

#6. Improve ROI and Tracking

When used in conjunction with a strong CRM with original source tracking, you can analyze your contact database to identify where they came from. Tools like HubSpot store which source your contacts came from (like Organic Search, Paid Social, Paid Search, etc.), giving you visibility into what’s really working in your media mix.

#7. Improved Attribution

Attribution modeling in a CRM allows you to analyze different touchpoints your leads/customers took on their purchase journey. HubSpot defines it, “Multi-touch attribution reports are valuable because they allow marketers to pinpoint the exact marketing and sales effort that led to a conversion.” This is only possible when you collect a contact database.

Top 10 Ways to Get More First-Party Data

Your prospects and customers need to feel like giving you their email will result in a valuable experience for them. When asking for emails from your customers, answer their most important question: “What’s in it for me?”

Sample of Content Download to Generate More 1st Party DataSample Content Download Incentive

Will they be receiving a monthly list of available homes for sale from your community? Can you send them timely updates on sales incentives? Can they update their subscription frequency or control what kind of emails you send them? Make sure that your opt-in copy is clear on what you can deliver in exchange for their information.

  1. Offer content to download in exchange for an email address
  2. Add more places to opt in for the newsletter throughout the website. Try to have a sign up opportunity in your blog/news section or website footer
  3. Add a pop-up when the visitor tries to leave the page to request their email
  4. Test a module allowing people on your website to save their favorite content
  5. Offer surveys (and incentives to complete surveys)
  6. Develop a strong content strategy to build social media followers and invite followers to subscribe to the newsletter
  7. Add a chatbot or livechat function to the website
  8. Have a physical location? Add an option to opt-in to the newsletter at point-of-purchase or at in-person sales centers
  9. Add a checkbox on all contact forms, even transactional forms, asking if your leads would like to join the newsletter list
  10. Ensure that signing up with email on apps and website apps is a seamless, easy experience

CRM & You: Let’s Talk

With more legislations on online privacy (GDPR and CCPA to start), and the death of the 3rd party cookie, the best time to start rethinking your first-party data strategy is now. Digital marketing is changing rapidly, and you don’t want to lose valuable insights into your customers by missing out on opportunities to request and track their data on your website.

Interested in implementing a robust Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) like HubSpot to gather, track, and analyze your contact database? Let’s talk.

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