Accelerate your journey to first-party data

The end is nigh for third-party cookies. Thomas Zimmermann, Chief Marketing Officer at multi-mobility platform FREE NOW, shares his experience of transforming customer engagement using the power of personalised data. 

As marketers know all too well, Google is removing third-party cookies from its Chrome browser next year to protect consumers’ data privacy. Switching to first-party data – collected directly from website and app users with their consent – will have significant customer engagement benefits.

First-party data has in-built compliance with data privacy regulation, having been gathered with individuals’ permission and clear expressions of how it will be used. But more importantly, it’s a far better engagement tool than third-party information.

Data provided directly by your users is inherently more accurate and relevant than that aggregated by third parties. It, therefore, offers more profound insights and can provide a highly valuable, insightful view of your customer base – enabling precise targeting. 

The upshot is a deeper sense of trust and engagement among customers, who feel the information they’ve given you has been acted on – resulting in a better experience when interacting with your business. 

First-party data in action
Despite these advantages – and the imminent end of third-party data – many brands are unprepared for the transition to focusing on first-party data.

A recent study found that just 28 per cent of marketing departments plan to reduce their dependence on third-party information this year. That’s despite recognising data management as one of their biggest challenges for 2022.

The growing range of marketing tech tools help brands to capitalise on first-party data. We at FREE NOW recently used the customer engagement platform from Braze to forge ahead with the shift to first-party data and significantly improved our user engagement.

Our Mobility-as-a-Service platform offers the largest vehicle choice for consumers across Europe. Therefore we aggregate numerous mobility brands and vehicle options to make them seamlessly bookable within one app for our 54m users in over 170 cities. The need for smart mobility solutions, which help to make mobility more sustainable and efficient, is increasing dramatically. But the market with the competition for drivers and users is highly competitive. Standing out means offering the most convenient and frictionless user experience with our app and building engagement to deepen our relationships with users and drivers to develop their loyalty.

For this reason, we’ve prioritised rolling out automated real-time, cross-channel communications, based on personalised, multi-step journeys for our users. To do this successfully, we required a thorough understanding of user needs, behaviours and preferences – for which first-party data is essential – and the flexibility to act on this.

We can now manage live first-party data to monitor how users behave and deliver different communication journeys based on how they interact with CRM channels and the FREE NOW app itself. This, combined with A/B testing, allows us to identify and tailor the most effective way to communicate with our users and provide them with highly relevant content. By tracking real time data and utilising Braze’s multi-journey canvas setups, we can communicate with our users precisely when it will have the greatest influence. For example, we can intervene in real-time when a passenger attempts to cancel their trip request, sending them messages and alternative options at precisely the right moment, and over their preferred channel. This leads to a more engaging and relevant experience for our users, generating a 20 per cent boost in rider engagement.   

Driver engagement is equally vital to FREE NOW’s success. Instead of deciding on one offer which is applicable to all drivers, we decided to give them the option to choose on their own. With the in-app Simple Survey feature, we can give our drivers a choice between different payment structures for special offers – for example flat rate bonuses each tour or 0 per cent commission for a specific time period. Their selection is automatically routed to our payment and offer systems, ensuring drivers get exactly what they choose without any manual effort. Following this, we can automatically send targeted reminders based on their selection and driving habits, reminding them how far they have to go to meet their goals. We found that offering this flexibility increases take-up by 47 per cent.

And the benefits go further. Higher driver take-up enhances the passenger experience, meaning shorter wait times and less frequent price surges. At the same time, the customer engagement tool saves us time and cost by streamlining campaign set-up, avoiding duplication of tasks, and automating the process of sending messages.

Time to act
The stark reality is that third-party data is on the way out, and first-party information is a more powerful vehicle in the race for building real relationships with customers. In a competitive environment, brands that can respond to individuals’ needs and preferences are the ones that will gain customers and drive loyalty that keeps them. 

That’s precisely what first-party data allows you to do. It’s time to get ahead of the changing data-privacy landscape by accelerating your move away from third-party information now.