With the updates to privacy policies and data collection on the largest tech platforms (Apple, Facebook, Google), third-party data — information collected by a third party then shared with advertisers — is becoming increasingly harder to come by, and will eventually go away.
First-party data, on the other hand, is information that the advertiser collects directly from consumers that have interacted with their brand in some way — via web visits, contact forms, social media follows, or direct inquiries. This data includes important information like IP address, name, phone number, location, web browsing history, and the all-important email address.
First-party data allows you to better understand who your audience is, then deliver ads to them that are targeted, relevant, and specific, increasing their likelihood of engagement. Even better, with first-party data, your audience already knows who YOU are, because they’ve already interacted with your brand in some way.
As marketers adjust to a world without third-party data to reach our target audiences, first-party data will become the gold standard (and in most cases, it already is).
How Do We Get It?
The number one way to collect first-party data is directly from your website. That’s why it’s critically important to have a website that engages your audience and pulls them deeper into the brand experience, so that they ultimately ask for more information and convert.
You can also capture first-party data through Google Analytics (who is engaging with your website and how), social media (who is following you or engaging with your posts), walk-in traffic (through paper or digital registration cards), or by adding the Facebook pixel to your website (to remarket to your audience on social media).
How Do We Use It?
There’s no better audience than an active, engaged one, and that’s why it’s a great idea to use first-party data for remarking and granular audience targeting. If someone visits your website, your analytics software captures their IP address, which you can then use to retarget them with display ads. You can get even more granular with retargeting using first-party data. If someone visits a specific community page, you can retarget those people with more ads that are specific to that community.
First-party data collected from your website (or from walk-in traffic and stored in your CRM) is also extremely helpful in developing your ad strategy. You can look for trends and patterns in your traffic and develop campaigns using that information. For example, if you notice a large percentage of parents frequenting a particular neighborhood, you can update your ad creative to include pictures of families and kids enjoying their new homes to attract more of this buyer demographic. As another example, if you notice leads coming from a particular industry or employer in the area, you can update your target area, ad copy, and display creatives to match those potential buyers.
Additionally, you can explore additional advertising options with more confidence. Let’s say Amazon opens a fulfillment center or Boeing creates another plane manufacturing plant; we can target people who work there using a unique advertising strategy called geofencing. If these employees are buying homes — which you discover through Google Analytics, your Online Sales Counselor, and onsite sales representatives — you can geofence their company location and then serve them ads. Since some employees already demonstrated interest in your homes, there’s a higher chance that others would be interested, too.
Remember, though, that in order to use CRM data to its full potential, you must keep your lists clean, updated, and segmented. The more specific you can get, the better. Be sure you can filter your list by segments such as community, city, and other demographic information, to make sure your engaged audiences are receiving the most targeted and relevant ads possible. Send an updated CRM list to your advertising partner at least every month so we can update our targeting!
By adding the Facebook pixel to your website, you can use first-party data to target Facebook ads to people who have visited your website, whether or not they have submitted their contact information through a lead form. You can retarget people who have visited your website in general, or just specific pages.
You can also use your (clean and segmented!) CRM lists for additional targeting by uploading them to Facebook’s ad platform for a data match. That way, you can serve ads to Facebook users who match your CRM list. This is great for serving ads to your REALTOR® list or for incentive ads that you only want going to people who have submitted a form on the website.
This type of ad targeting on Facebook allows you to move potential customers further down the marketing funnel, ultimately leading to higher engagement rates when they land back on your website.
First-party data accessed through Google Search Console allows you to understand how users are interacting with our websites. Using Google Analytics (which only uses first-party cookies to track data), we can understand what users are searching for, what pages they are visiting, how long they’re spending on them, whether or not they are engaging with your content, and where on the site users are most likely to convert.
This information can help you form a strategy to make your site even more appealing to your audience, which in turn will help your website rank higher on the SERPs. First-party data allows you to tailor a builder’s search appearance to target what people are actually searching for, and improve organic click-through rates.
You can also use data from Google Ads and Search Console to better tailor content on builder webpages to what users are searching for online. This helps improve organic visibility, and drive down cost per-click for relevant keywords.
So What’s Next?
Google plans on phasing out third-party cookies on Chrome browsers by late 2023. (Firefox and Safari have already phased them out.) Apple gives users a choice of being tracked, and Facebook allows users to get very specific in terms of who they’d like to see ads from (or not). All this means that home builders should be beefing up their first-party data collection now.
By now you’re asking, “So how do users get to my website in the first place if I can’t target them?” Here are a few suggestions:
- Brand Building: What makes your brand different or special that will make someone want to interact with your content? What unique experiences do people have on your website and in your sales centers that will make them mention you to friends, family, or colleagues? How are you known in your community and local market?
- Organic Content: Properly optimized, original content — blog posts, photos, videos, and interactive renderings — will help users find you online.
- Optimized search appearance: Title tags and meta descriptions, based on keyword research and user intent, will help your website rank higher in the search results as users search for information online.
- Diversify Your Marketing Channels: Don’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket. Just because one platform performs well at the moment, doesn’t mean it can’t crash (remember the Facebook Conundrum?) or change its ad policies. Make sure your voice and message are consistent across platforms, so that if you ever need to pivot, you can do so quickly.
The bottom line is that the home builder marketing landscape is shifting, so your priorities should, too. Make every effort to collect accurate, detailed information about your audience using your own tools and platforms, so that you can build a targeted, engaged audience. Because that’s the best kind there is.
Need help collecting your own first-party data to use in home builder ad campaigns? Contact us — we can help!