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E-Commerce for Brands

Online Quizzes for E-Commerce

Zero-Party Data and the Role That Quizzes and Surveys Play

Ben Parr of Octane AI joined an episode of E-Commerce with Coffee?! to shed light on one of this year’s most relevant topics.

Ben came appropriately caffeinated and energized to talk about zero-party data and the use of online quizzes and other data collection in e-commerce.

After discussing his daily caffeine intake with the show’s host Nate Svoboda, Ben sliced into the meat of the interview with the story of how his company got started.

The year was 2016, and he and his team were ahead of the curve offering zero-party data collection for Shopify storefronts. Ben reflects on how many developers and brands came to him later looking for advice as a result. The biggest lesson he learned in those early days, he says, was how to build relationships and brand culture.

Having scaled his own business with such notoriety, Ben also talks about what brands have to do today to attract the best talent. “The best talent is looking for flexibility,” he maintains, referring largely to remote work. “The world has changed, and the only question is what companies have changed to meet them.”

The world really has changed — from how we work to how we buy. Early in the interview, Ben moves deftly from his own origin story to the ways that e-commerce has “fundamentally changed” this year and last. One of the most pivotal changes, he asserts, is in how we collect data.

Zero-Party Data

Third-party data (you know, those cookies that companies like Facebook and Google collect on users’ website activity) was essentially quashed with the iOS 14 update this year. Since that update (and its new privacy settings), now 96% of iOS users have opted out of tracking. The Apple device platform really took its own spin on privacy, and as a result, third-party cookies are phasing out fast.

Zero-party data is the new — and soon, the only — way brands collect information about their target consumer. Zero-party data is collected through “content and websites you [the brand] own,” according to Ben, including surveys, quizzes, and guided shopping experiences.

Just picture it: users answer a flow of questions on your landing page, clicking through simple “if/then” statements about their preferences. The brand that builds the flow receives data firsthand — it’s now that brand’s to keep.

Therefore, it is “zero-party” data.

Ben elaborates on third-party cookies and reflects on how “e-commerce was built by companies just buying that [third-party] data; but that won’t happen anymore.” Zero-party data is the new way that brands will now collect consumer data on preferences, interests, and even behavior.

Zero-party data collection improves the buyer journey, and Ben explains why in the interview. Just think again about that guided shopping experience. Zero-party data in these cases is data that consumers actually want to give a brand because it helps them get what they’re looking for. “It’s one of those rare circumstances where it’s really good for the brand and it’s really good for the consumer,” Ben says.

How to Collect Zero-Party Data

For any brand getting started with a zero-party data collection strategy, “start with a conversational pop-up over a quiz,” Ben suggests. He says this is easier to build out and the data from that pop-up will help the brand decide what should go in a quiz later.

A conversational pop-up or guided shopping experience is also a way to instantly give consumers a more personalized shopping experience.

Brand owners can take a quiz on Ben’s website to get started with their own zero-party data collection.

There’s another boon brands enjoy with zero-party data, and that’s the reality that it helps brands cut through the noise. Here’s how that works:

  • Every app and software brands use today to get their products online and optimized across channels ultimately gives those brands access to built-in reporting and metrics.
  • The one thing brands have the most of today is reporting data. At first, this seems like a good thing.
  • Actually cutting through that data to find the useful nuggets and rally behind the numbers that drive change, however, does not come naturally to anyone.
  • That’s why brands are increasingly hiring data analysts and data visualization services to help parse through all those numbers.

Numbers of all kinds have their use, but no reporting in those apps will tell brands exactly what their consumers are most passionate about. That kind of data that brands need now is something that must come directly from consumers.

Use that kind of data to help determine what KPIs really matter for your brand.

What to Do with Zero-Party Data

Next up in the interview, Ben poses the question, what’s a brand to do with all that zero-party data when they have it? He answers in detail throughout the second half of the interview.

“The number one, number two, number three [thing to do]: connect it to your email.” Listen to the full episode for examples of what that looks like for a brand today.

Be honest. When you see “online quiz,” the first thing you think of is a BuzzFeed-style personality test. Right? Ben recognizes that, then gives examples of how quizzes and surveys used right are fundamental to figuring out what products and packages consumers want.

Consumers don’t want more options, they want better options. This new standard is an integral part of the recent shift in consumer expectations.

Whether or not your brand acts on zero-party data collection now, that will determine what impact the data trend has later — for better or worse. Today’s ad strategies are based entirely on cookies (from third-party data), and those ecosystems will be completely broken before long.

“If you’re too reliant on ads and third-party data right now (and don’t change that in the next year or year and a half), you’re [in bad shape],” Ben warns.

Listen to the full episode for more!

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