6 min.
7 primary data acquisition tactics
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7 primary data acquisition tactics


As we slowly but surely enter a post-Cookie Apocalypse marketing era, it is more broadly the ways in which data is collected that need to be rethought. In order to adapt to this new context, we will draw up a portrait of the situation in this article, before presenting some concrete solutions.

We will first define the four types of data used in marketing. Then, we will trace the events that led to the decline of third party data, in favor of first and zero party data. Finally, we will present concrete cases of customer data collection methods.

Table of contents :

  1. The different types of marketing data
  2. Why are zero-party and first-party data becoming a priority?
  3. 7 ways to collect zero-party and first-party data
    1. The white paper
    2. Subscription to a relationship program
    3. The survey
    4. Personalization of a customer profile
    5. Enrolling in an event
    6. The contest
    7. Product packaging
  4. The recipe for success

The different types of marketing data

It is possible to classify data used in marketing into four broad categories:

  • zero-party data
  • first-party data 
  • second-party data
  • third-party data

The most important thing is to be able to identify who collected the data. Was it the company itself? Or did these data come from an external source? In the first case, these are proprietary data, while in the second case, these are considered external data.

Proprietary data

Zero- and first-party data belong in the first data category, which we call “proprietary data.” As the name indicates, these are data that the organization collected itself from its own users. These data can also be called “first-party data.”

Zero-party data refers to any data that the user deliberately chooses to reveal to an organization, particularly through a questionnaire. For this reason, these data can also be called “declarative” because they were stated directly by users.

First-party data refers to all information collected by a company from its own digital assets. This includes transactional, search and browsing data, but also geolocation and social network interaction data. Tools such as Google Analytics, for example, provide proprietary data because they collect information directly related to the performance of the website they are connected to.

It should be noted that the distinction between these two types of data can be subtle. That's why the term “first-party data” is used as an umbrella term to refer to both first-party and zero-party data. The takeaway is that both are collected by the organization itself. 

External data

Second- and third-party data belong to the second grouping of data, called “external” data. These are data that are not collected by the company itself.

Second-party data are obtained through a transaction between two organizations. This sharing of data is generally possible when there is a common interest between both organizations. For example, a gardening magazine can share its list of customer email addresses with a company offering gardening and composting products.

Therefore, these data are actually first-party data from another organization.

Third-party data, also known as “external data,” is obtained through an indirect transaction between a company and external organizations. These organizations may use tracking technologies, such as cookies or pixels, to collect users’ browsing data outside of their platform. For example, a social network like Facebook may analyze the websites viewed by a user to identify their interests. The data collected can then be aggregated and sold to advertisers who use it to target specific audiences with ads.

Why are zero-party and first-party data becoming a priority?

Zero- and first-party data are becoming a priority because they let you make up for the loss of reliability in third-party data. There are three reasons for this situation:

  • The evolving legislation surrounding the protection of personal data
  • Users' mistrust regarding how their data is used
  • The war between the members of GAFAM in the data market

The golden age of third-party data

Historically, third-party data was mostly used by acquisition and retargeting teams. It was particularly supplied by Google and Facebook through their Ads platforms. These data were an accessible, inexpensive and generally reliable way to easily target specific audiences.

These data were so accessible that organizations became lax about collecting their own proprietary data, which were seen as hard to acquire, despite being the best quality data available.

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Third-party data are the easiest to obtain, but are also the lowest quality because everyone has access to them.

This dynamic led to organizations' dangerous dependency on the third-party type for major marketing activities.

And yet, despite its practicality, third-party data had a distinct problem: its lack of traceability. It's hard to know how the third-party data were collected and to verify whether they were obtained while respecting any legislation in effect.

Third-party data: Increased expense

Questions about transparency surrounding the collection of third-party data slowly fed users' mistrust of those collecting and using their data. Users then became increasingly reluctant to share their information.

Furthermore, evolving legislation on the protection of personal information strengthened the need for companies to adapt their methods, which made collecting and using these types of data more complex.

In addition, competition between the web giants (GAFAM) intensified the rare quality of third-party data. For example, in 2020 Apple revoked access to user data for platforms such as Google Ads, thereby lowering the quality of the targeting offered to advertisers.

As a result, access to third-party data was limited, making it more rare and therefore more costly.

This erosion of third-party data led to an inevitable increase in the cost of acquisition campaigns. This meant third-party data changed slowly from being an essential element to being an increasingly less strategic data type.

Return to the source: First-party data

Given a context in which third-party data became less reliable than it previously had been, experts turned to other data types, particularly first-party data.

However, collecting it is no mean feat, since it must be obtained directly from users themselves, who are less and less inclined to share it. What's more, expectations around personalization are increasing, while methods for achieving personalization have hit a rough patch.

Luckily, this complex problem has a simple resolution: the return to a user-centred approach. Basically, this paradigm shift is finally offering an opportunity to return to more transparent and responsible marketing activities that protect and enhance user data.

7 ways to collect zero-party and first-party data

Given this context, priority is placed on collecting primary data. To accomplish this, you need to convince the user to share their information, which means companies need to offer an interesting value in exchange.

So that you fully understand how to collect this type of data, here is a selection of our preferred tactics as offered by our experts.

Important note: The collection of primary data requires user consent.


 1 -  The white paper

A white paper is an informative downloadable document, such as an industry report or an e-book. The content aims to provide specific information on a specific topic.

Providing this type of document is especially effective for collecting information about an audience with focused interests or similar professions and to attract people interested in the same topics.

However, producing a white paper may require a lot of work and resources, which could make this data-gathering method costly. However, this tactic is still very effective for collecting zero-party data and generating qualified leads.


2 -  Subscription to a relationship program

The relationship program is an essential strategy for successfully enhancing customer relationships. The rationale behind this strategy is based on capturing email addresses. It is therefore especially important to facilitate the subscription process and to make it attractive for increasing engagement and driving participation.

There are two basic tactics:

1. The creation of a customer account, which is the most effective tactic at present for collecting user emails. Plus, the subscription is often obligatory for e-commerce in order to submit an order.

2. Subscribing to a loyalty program, which is offered once the customer account has been created. By leading the user to subscribe to a loyalty program, the company can collect more detailed information on their needs and better determine their preferences.

In general, the enrollment form must be as simple and frictionless as possible. For example, when submitting an order, Domino's smartly added two checkboxes at the end of its order form: one to create an account, another to subscribe to the loyalty program. The simplicity of this method belies its power as a way of driving loyalty.


The same is true at the checkout when no account has been opened!


3 - The survey

The survey is a very effective tactic for understanding the needs and expectations of customers. Its goal is to offer customers an opportunity to express themselves at strategic moments of their journey.

At the start of the journey: It is possible to set up a welcome survey for new users to learn more about their needs. For example, cosmetics brand LUMIN provides new customers with a survey on its homepage. In exchange for strategic information on their beauty routine, LUMIN offers a personalized kit of essential items. If the user decides to go ahead with this first purchase, the company already has premiere quality data that can be connected with this new customer.

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In the middle of their journey: Mini-surveys placed at various locations on a website enable the rapid identification of areas of friction. These mini-surveys are shorter than surveys offered at the start and end of the journey. For example, the educational site Brilliant makes a help button  available to users at the bottom of each lesson page. If a user encounters a problem, they can easily point out and explain the issue they're experiencing. This way, Brilliant can analyze the comments left by users in order to more quickly identify and clarify problems with their content, the goal being iterative improvements to their service.
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End of journey:
Sending a satisfaction survey after a purchase lets you collect the opinions     of customers. For example, each time I visit the hairdresser, I get a survey by email so that I can talk about my experience. Obviously, capturing this information is only possible if I share my email address, hence the importance for marketing teams to ensure they offer account creation at key moments of the user journey.

4 - Personalization of customer profile

Allowing users to personalize their account is beneficial for better understanding their consumption profile and improving the relevance of content offered to them. For example, Quebec company Mondou, which sells products and accessories for pets, offers its customers the possibility of entering information about their pets directly into their account's preference centre. Mondou can then use this information to offer its customers products that are more adapted to their pets, all while strengthening customers’ connection to the brand. The repercussions of this tactic are obviously magnified when used as part of a loyalty program.

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5 - Enrolling in an event

Like the white paper, enrolling in an event is a tactic that lets you increase your base of potential customers. For this tactic, you need to create a landing page and a short enrollment survey. To strengthen the tactic, the most important element is to address a popular topic, especially one receiving media attention at that time, though without asking too much of the user who would like to enroll in the event. For example, our last webinar on Law 25 in partnership with BLG attracted 600 subscribers.

Ideally, you should offer rebroadcasts of the webinar for those who cannot attend live in exchange for the creation of a customer account or an email address. For example, here is our model:


6 - Contests

Contests are opportunities for organizations to increase their visibility, but also to collect customer data. In general, the most common method involves offering enrollment in a contest on a landing page for a website in exchange for the participant's email address.

It is also possible to organize a partnership for the purposes of exchanging data by holding a contest in association with another company. In this case, lists of email addresses collected by each company can be exchanged and used to reach a new customer base.

In the example below, the SAQ has taken things a step further with two specific tactics: a survey and a contest. Through its loyalty program, the SAQ can target its more engaged customers and ask them for their opinion. If the survey is completed, the customer is automatically enrolled and earns a chance of winning a gift card worth between $500 and $1,000.


7 - Product packaging

Another creative, but less orthodox technique is to make use of the physical packaging for products. For example, Quebec company Boréale added a QR code to its beer cans. When scanned, the QR code can redirect customers to the company's website, offer personalized content based on the beverage purchased and invite them to subscribe to its newsletter.


The recipe for success 

Although they have different preferences, most of our experts agree that there is no one perfect solution: Everything depends on the situation, the means available and degree of ambition.

No matter which method is employed, there are essential conditions for guaranteeing successful data collection. Jean-François Renaud, the founder of Adviso, recommends four basic ingredients:

  • the data collection must be hardwired into the processes of the entire organization (not just those of the marketing department);
  • collection must occur at a coherent moment in the user journey;
  • collection must offer something valuable to exchange to the user, creating a win-win situation;
  • collection must respect current legislation.

Lastly, if you only take one thing away from this article, it should be the importance of creating an environment that motivates customers to share their data and to invest in customers that are the most likely to share their data with you.

This article was made possible with the participation of the following Adviso experts (presented in alphabetical order): Anaïs Boisvert, Léa Bernaix, Francis Devoy, Sabrina Fontaine, Pierre Gagnon, Fabian Neuville, Maxime Philippon, Jean-François Renaud, Caroline Turcotte, Guillaume Wagner.