It’s no secret that we have entered the age of consumer privacy. New guidelines like GDPR and CCPA, new features released by Apple, and recent announcements made by Google are all pointing to the same thing: giving consumers increased transparency and control over their personal data will be the norm moving forward. And with that control comes the ability to impede many of the tried-and-true methods marketers have been using to collect data and target consumers. 

One of the more significant changes occurred with the Apple iOS 14.5 update, which gave users the opportunity to decline cross-app data sharing via an explicit opt-out notification screen. And here we are, only weeks after the release, and new research shows that 96% of US users are opting out of data tracking. 

The implications are clear: with such severe limitations to third-party data-sharing, targeted ads will soon be a thing of the past—unless marketers lean into first-party data.

Zenreach’s own VP of Marketing, Megan Wintersteen, praises Apple’s move as a step in the right direction for users and merchants alike. “We see this as a good thing for both brick-and-mortar businesses and consumers,” she says. “Consumers have more privacy and control, and in the end businesses will have more accurate and relevant targeting data—but that all has to start with first-party data collection.” 

Driving the point home, Wintersteen emphasizes that “understanding the customer and their journey across online and offline channels will be imperative to identifying organic opportunities to enable data collection.”

And while first-party data collection may be second-nature for online businesses, it’s brick-and-mortar businesses which have significantly more challenges collecting first-party data at scale. 

With the need for first-party data now more critical than ever, here are ten data collection strategies brick-and-mortar businesses can leverage at their physical locations:

  • Leverage guest WiFi to collect customer data: This one is a no-brainer. Including a sign-in to your free WiFi creates a strong value exchange between business and customer. While it’s a known fact that customers really (really) want WiFi, merchants should also note that over half of customers spend more at businesses that offer free WiFi.Total pizza lovers in the Zenreach network: 7.4M+
  • Build incentives that promote data sharing: We’ve all seen the online version of this: that immediate pop up saying you’ll 10% off in exchange for your email. Consider ways to do this in-store: building incentives into your WiFi sign on portal, giving a discount at purchase for providing an email address or phone number, or implementing a rewards program (beyond punch cards). Providing customers with incentives to keep engaging with a brand ensures that companies can continue to collect the most up-to-date data. 
  • Integrate POS data for the most accurate insights: Another easy and effective way to collect first-party data is by incorporating data collection right at the point of sale. Some examples include asking for customer emails to send e-receipts or directly asking customers to sign up for a loyalty program. 
  • Leave out comment and review cards:Yes, this is more of an old-school method, but it’s still a very effective way to collect data. By having customers fill out comment or review cards, you get instant access to key information about them (as well as receiving valuable feedback about your business). But remember, it’s important to include a field for email or phone number on each of these cards and eventually transfer those to your customer database to use in future marketing efforts.
  • Have customers complete satisfaction surveys:Similar to comment cards, surveys are a way to make customers feel they have some say in how a business they patronize is run while at the same time make it easy to collect first-party data from them. Surveys can be printed on receipts, placed on tablets near checkout, or sent via email.
  • Run giveaways and contests: By offering regular sweepstakes, raffles, and contests, businesses can create excitement around their brands while collecting first-party data. These events can take place intermittently throughout the year in order to keep the data fresh and accurate. 
  • Incentivize customer referrals:Businesses can help grow their customer base by offering a customer referral program. Think of an offer where customers can refer a friend to get, say, $5 off today, and then the friend can also take $5 off when they make their first visit. This tactic can be a great method for collecting first-party data of current customers and potential new ones without the need to create a lookalike audience.
  • Prominently feature signage to promote sign-ups: Remember to leverage all customer touchpoints to promote sign ups. Businesses can use receipts, packaging, and table tents to encourage customers to sign up for mailing lists, connect to WiFi, or be directed to company websites—all of which grow your first-party data.
  • Create a birthday club: Everyone loves to feel good on their birthday. By offering customers special deals on their special day, businesses can create a great opportunity to directly collect first-party data. Customers can submit their emails and birth dates to receive unique rewards on their birthdays.
  • Host free events for patrons: Now that COVID-19 restrictions are loosening, businesses can once again host in-store events that can be excellent sources for cultivating first-party data. By holding free events that require registration, businesses can collect customer data in-person and in real time.

If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage any of the strategies discussed above, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager or, if you’re a new customer, get in touch with us directly using the contact information below:

Call: (800) 807-WiFi (9434)

Email: hello@zenreach.com

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