First-Party Data and How to Use It for School Marketing

Understanding the family enrollment journey is one of the most complex challenges school marketers face today. Potential families are constantly sharing information about their needs, wants, and preferences with every interaction they have with your school.

And parents expect schools to provide relevant and personalized experiences on every channel, or they will consider going elsewhere.

Collecting and analyzing consumer data is no longer optional. Data is an essential aspect of effective marketing. For years marketers have relied on cookies to track the actions of internet users for years. However, Google has announced they will no longer use third-party cookies. For this reason, marketers will need to rely on first-party data.

So let’s take a look at first-party data and how you can access and use it to improve your marketing strategies.

What Is First-Party Data?

First-party data refers to data you collect directly from enrolled or potential families. It usually includes data collected from:

  • Your website
  • Your email subscribers
  • Social data
  • Family data
  • Inquiry data
  • Completed surveys, feedback and other information stored in your databases

First-party data comes straight from families and is generally considered to be the most valuable. As long as parents are aware you are collecting data and how you intend to use it, privacy concerns are minimal.

Taking control of your first-party data should be a priority for marketers today who want to learn from it, deepen engagement with parents and improve ROI across marketing efforts.

How Can School Marketers Use First-Party Data?

First-party data is considered the most prized data. Since you collect it directly, you know it’s accurate and relevant to your school.

Also, you know there are minimal privacy concerns because you collect it and store it securely. Since you know it is relevant information, there are many ways you can use first-party data.

  1. Predict future patterns

You can use first-party data to predict future audience behavior with confidence. For example, when you see a particular user has engaged with your website and blog on multiple occasions, subscribed to your newsletter, and visited an inquiry page, you can infer that parent may complete an inquiry form in the future.

In the same way, if you gather data that shows your audience rarely clicks on banner ads but frequently engages with video ads, you know your target audience prefers video ads. Then, you can put more resources into video ads in the future.

  1. Gain audience insights

First-party data can give you valuable insights, even if your audience is relatively small. You can analyze your data to determine patterns that can help you tailor your marketing endeavors.

  1. Personalize content

First-party data can help you improve your blog and social media content. The data you collect will give you improved insights into their interests, needs, and preferences.

You can also use first-party data to add elements like a first name, category preferences, and other attributes. This helps parents feel you know, understand and are there to help them.

First-party data can also be applied to paid advertising opportunities to increase the personalization of the creative and written copy.

  1. Improve paid ads

There are many ways to use first-party data to improve your pay per click (PPC) advertising. Google Analytics already collects useful data, but it lacks post-conversion data.

You can also use remarketing lists allow for custom created groups of website visitors to be added search campaigns with either a positive or negative bid adjustment. This allows you to create a custom audience based on your visitors’ actions and then either target them with specific ad copy or exclude them.

For example, you can increase bids for people who have visited your website. The thinking here is that if they are familiar with your school they are more likely to be a potential family. Conversely, you can exclude parents of currently enrolled students. This makes it easier to target advertising to the right audience.

How to Collect First-Party Data

There are several ways to collect first-party data.

  • Website visitor tracking tools
  • A mobile app
  • Social media channels
  • Polls and surveys
  • Test lead generation ad form
  • Add custom questions to your forms to better pre-qualify or segment your audience
  • Test more channels if they seem like a good fit
  • Spend more time focusing on building your school brand
  • A data management platform software can be used to collect first, second and third-party data in one unified place

Targeting and cookie-use policies are changing across many channels. For this reason, it is imperative you adapt to these changes. The first step to collecting first-party data is through polls, customer surveys, or website tracking tools. Then make a plan for how you will use it.

The sooner you prepare for the changes that are inevitably coming, the better your marketing will flourish in this post-cookie world.

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