As a content marketer, you need to understand who you’re creating content for. Flying blind makes it very difficult to craft something that will appeal to your target audience.

To understand who your target audience is, you should collect data on them through your content intelligence platform. This is known as first party data, and it’s extremely important for content marketing success (and business success, for that matter).

However, in the age of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), collecting data isn’t as simple as it used to be. So in this guide, we’re going to explain what first party data is, why it matters for content marketing, and how to collect it.

Let’s get started.

What is First Party Data?

First party data is data you collect from your own audience, such as customers, visitors to your website, and social media followers. It’s “first party” data because it was collected first-hand by your brand (as opposed to third-party data, which we’ll talk about later).

For content marketers, this data is typically collected via a content intelligence platform like Knotch. It may also be collected via a CRM, survey, customer feedback, subscription, or mobile app. Thanks to modern technology, pretty much any action a user takes on your website can be collected, analyzed, and turned into data.

Here are some types of information that can be collected via first party data:

  • Demography
  • Purchase history
  • Personal interests
  • Websites visited
  • Time spent on websites

First party data is the best kind of data because it comes from the people who matter most to your business—your audience. This means you can depend on it to make key business decisions. Furthermore, first party data is also free to collect.

From a legal perspective, first party data is the safest kind of data to collect because it doesn’t interfere with regulations around data protection and privacy (the aforementioned GDPR and CCPA).

Many marketers are already increasing their first party data collection. A survey from MarTech Today revealed that more than 80 percent of marketers consider themselves data self-sufficient, or working towards the goal of self-sufficiency.

How to Use First Party Data for Content Marketing

As mentioned, first party data is the most reliable kind of data. For content marketers, it offers several unique benefits:

  • Create better content: By knowing your customers’ age, occupation, interests, and internet browsing habits, you can create more personalized content that better suits their needs. In turn, you foster trust and brand affinity, as the customer feels you really understand who they are and what they need. 
  • Move customers through your content marketing funnel: Creating great content will get prospects into your funnel. To push them through your funnel and turn them into customers, you need to create a buyer journey, and understand when and how to serve them content. Here again, first party data can help by showing you what platforms your customers like to use, when they are most active online, and the types of products they are interested in buying.

First party data is also used for audience retargeting. This is when you are served ads for a product or service based on previous online activity. 

And like we already mentioned, using first party data allows you to stay compliant with regulations regarding the collection and usage of customer information.

The Difference Between First, Second, and Third Party Data

If you’re familiar with first party data, you might also be familiar with second and third party data. Let’s take a closer look at each

Second Party Data

Second party data is data that you did not collect yourself. In most cases, the data was collected first-hand by another organization and then shared or sold to your organization—thus making it secondhand data.

Oftentimes, secondhand data sharing occurs between two organizations that will benefit from the sharing of said data. For example, if your company works with an agency to market your products, you might decide to share first party data on your customers with the agency so that they can more effectively market your product. Or if you run a travel website, you may be willing to share your data with car rental websites so that you can work better together.

Second party data is usually collected the same ways first party data is. The only difference is that another organization is collecting the data, then making it available to your organization for free or for a price.

Why do organizations seek out second party data? Usually because they’re looking for some kind of data that they cannot collect themselves. Acquiring data secondhand allows you to go shopping to find the exact data your business needs. Having secondhand data should provide you with new insights into your customers that you didn’t have before, which can allow you to reach new segments of the market and build a deeper relationship with your audience.

Of course, acquiring data second-hand can also be risky. You may find that the data is not of a good quality, or is not relevant to your business. 

Third Party Data

Third party data is data that is bought on the open market from companies whose business model is predicated around the collection and selling of data.

Third party data can be used for the same purposes as first and second party data. However, keep in mind that this data is available to anyone who is willing to pay a fee—including your competitors. Therefore, it may not be as valuable as you think.

Another key difference between third party data and first and second party data is that third party data is collected from individuals who may not necessarily be your target audience. Generally, anyone willing to provide feedback can be included in the data—regardless if they are the type of person who would buy your product or service.

Therefore, third party data should only be used as a compliment to the data you already have on hand. It can help fill in some gaps when it comes to your customer personas and buyer journey—but it should not be what you base your entire content strategy upon.

Use Knotch to Collect First-Party Data

Knotch is a powerful tool for collecting first party data. Using the Knotch Content Intelligence Platform, users can see real-time data on how customers are interacting with your brand’s content, and what actions they are taking on the page.

Knotch provides qualitative and quantitative data, allowing brands to get a complete view of how their content is performing. Knotch can also provide insight into the types of content your brand should be creating via competitor and keyword analysis.

To learn more about Knotch, sign up for a free demo.‍