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Future-Proof Your Affiliate Strategy with Zero- and First-Party Data

Last Modified: January 18, 2024

Starting in January 2024, Google officially kicked off the purge of third-party cookies by removing cookies from one percent of Chrome users, which represents about 30 million users. Google announced that they will continue to phase out cookies throughout the year and expect to turn them off for 100% of Chrome users by Q3 2024. Removing cookies from Chrome will have a massive impact across all digital marketing as Chrome is the leading browser with a market share of 61.8%.

The era of third-party data seems to be over, which means marketers have to turn to first-party and zero-party data. If your marketers are going to create an effective campaign, they should tweak their strategy to no longer include third-party data.

But, before we go any deeper into the subject, let’s take a closer look at zero-party and first-party data. What are they and what do you need to know about them?

First-Party Data vs. Zero Party Data: What You Need to Know

Many growth marketers know what cookies are and what their purpose is. However, many do not know about first-party and zero-party data. Let’s take a moment to define both of these terms.

First-party data includes all of the information a company gets from analytics and user behaviors. For example, if you have an email list you can track which emails lead to the most clicks and sales. All of that data from your internal email list is first-party data. A study covered in Marketing Drive found that 88% of marketers see first-party data as a top priority.

On the other hand, zero-party data doesn’t come from analysis, but directly from the customers. It includes all the information your customers intentionally share with you. For example, the comments they leave on your site, emails, and calls you receive from them are all zero-party data. They can give you valuable insight into your customers’ preferences.

The most forward-thinking ecommerce brands are collecting zero-party data to power deep personalization and future-proof their businesses from major data privacy changes. Octane AI helps thousands of Shopify and ecommerce brands collect this valuable zero-party data using quizzes and conversational pop-ups. Brands then use the data they collect with Octane AI for personalization across email, SMS, ad and affiliate marketing. Brands that do this typically see 2–4x increases in email collection and 20–40%+ growth in overall revenue, AOV and purchase conversions.

Why is all of this important? Data is the heart and soul of digital marketing. Without valuable customer information, marketers won’t be able to understand their customers or how their campaigns perform. Without those two pieces, your marketing efforts will suffer.

On the other hand, with the correct data, they can learn more about their customers, keep track of the campaigns and measure how successful they are. When you know which campaigns are working for you and which are not, you can boost the effective ones and kill the underperforming ones. Creating a successful campaign without all of this data is like flying a plane without radar. It is possible, but you can crash and burn.

So, how can you get your hands on more useful data leveraging your affiliate program? Well, you might have some information sources right there in your pocket, but you are not using them. Let’s take a look.

How Affiliates and Influencers Gather Data

Affiliates can help you gather more data from customers in a few different ways. Check out these ideas and see which one is a good fit for your brand.

Create Contests

If you want to gather more zero-party data, you can work with influencers on a contest. They could share “vote on our next product” stories or posts where their audience could share their opinions and choose which products they would prefer to buy. Experienced influencers won’t have a problem driving traffic to these contests.

If you want to receive first-party data, your goal can be to add a thousand people to your email list. This may sound tricky, but affiliates can help you with this task. Organize a contest among your affiliates. Have them encourage quality subscriber sign-ups and whoever gets the most new subscribers, wins. Your reward can be, for example, double commission on all sales for 30 days following the contest.

Run a Pre-Order Campaign

Let’s say you have a new product ready for production. How can you know how many units to produce? To get a better picture, consider running a pre-order campaign featuring a few products. You might include a bonus product for those who order early. By driving traffic to such a campaign on your website, you will have the opportunity to generate more zero-party and first-party data.

Offer a Quiz

According to TechCrunch, quizzes are a great way to get your hands on more zero-party data. A quiz usually involves asking a few questions about the consumer and then recommending a specific product. Work with your affiliates to make the quiz more engaging and generate more interest. Keep in mind that affiliates know their audience better than you, so they may have some great ideas for the quiz.

Ensure Your  Affiliate Campaigns are Tracked With  First-Party Data

When you have figured out how to grow your first-party or zero-party data to learn more about your customers, you need to ensure you’re also accurately tracking your affiliate and influencer campaigns. This will allow you to understand which affiliates perform best, what offers resonate most, and help you build trust with your partners.  If you’re manually tracking your affiliate campaigns or using one of the many affiliate tracking systems that rely on third-party cookies, you’re putting your campaigns at risk. 

Fortunately, Refersion enables brands to track affiliate, ambassador, and influencer campaign performance with first-party data. This means you do not need to rely on third-party cookies or intermediary pages, plus you can build referral links with your brand’s domain to ensure the customer can always check out and you are collecting accurate information from clicks to conversions. Using your brand’s domain for offer links also gives your SEO a boost if affiliates place those backlinks on web pages. Using first-party tracking for your affiliate program will bring you deep insights and strengthen your relationships with affiliates. They will feel confident knowing their efforts will be accurately tracked. It’s a win-win!

The Bottom Line

You need to ensure the heart of your business – your customer data and campaign tracking – is protected as we move into a world without cookies.  Collecting more information about your customers and how your campaigns are performing doesn’t have to be complicated.  Refersion’s all-in-one affiliate management platform can help you easily collect first-party data and track campaign performance so you can future-proof your business and scale to new heights.

To see for yourself, contact our sales team or sign up for our next live demo session.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey