Zero Party Data: What It Is and Why You Should Want To Collect It

Philip Cleave
May 10, 2024
Man collecting zero-party data from his customers

The drive towards greater personalisation is one of the cornerstones of modern marketing. Just imagine walking into a café, and your barista brews up your favourite coffee without you having to say a single word.

Well, that’s a great example of zero-party data, which helps businesses to better understand you and tailor their offerings to meet your preferences. The aim is to give you smoother experiences and deliver what you want without any hassles.

In this blog, we’ll look at zero-party data in a bit more detail, including its importance and some strategies you can adopt to collect this type of data.

What is zero-party data?

Zero-party data can be best defined as information that is intentionally and proactively shared by individuals with a brand. Unlike first-party data, which is typically collected through observation or interaction with a company's products or services, individuals explicitly offer zero-party data.

This data is typically collected through surveys, feedback forms and other direct means, where individuals can knowingly and willingly offer information about their preferences, interests, behaviours and intentions.

Zero-party data is hugely valuable for businesses, as it offers insights into specific consumer needs and desires. It also allows companies to more effectively tailor their products, services and marketing efforts.

And because consumers willingly share this type of data, it tends to be more accurate and reliable than other data types.

How zero-party data compares with first-party data

To further aid your understanding of zero-party data, it helps to compare it with first-party data. Although these terms are related in the context of collecting data and marketing, they refer to different types of information. So, it can help to clarify each term.

First-party data


First-party data is the information companies collect directly from their customers or audience. It’s typically obtained through interactions with a company’s own channels such as websites, apps and social media platforms.


It’s obtained directly from customers or users that willingly share their information with that company.


Customer names, email addresses, purchase history, website interactions and many other data that is collected through direct engagements.

Zero-party data


Although it’s also voluntarily offered by users, zero-party data goes a step further, as it’s explicitly and proactively shared by individuals with a company. This is achieved through surveys, feedback forms or any other explicit communications.


Similar to first-party data in that it comes directly from users. However, zero-party data is explicitly given in response to a direct inquiry or request for information.


Preferences, opinions, survey responses, and any data explicitly provided by the users in response to specific questions.

Zero-party data vs first-party data: where they differ


Although the activity of both data types includes willingly shared information, zero-party data demonstrates the proactive and explicit nature of the user’s contribution. Users offer their data with a clear understanding of why and how it will be used.

Methods of collection

While first-party data is typically gathered through user interactions with a company’s owned platforms, zero-party data is collected through explicit requests or surveys.

Use cases

Information obtained with first-party data is more generic and obtained through various user interactions. This contrasts with zero-party data, which is more specific, focusing on information that is explicitly provided by users in response to specific queries.

Why zero-party data is important

You would think there would be sufficient value in a customer trusting a brand enough to provide this really meaningful data, so that the brand doesn’t have to go off and try to infer what that customer wants or what their intentions are. Yet, zero-party data holds even greater importance than this for the reasons we’ve outlined below.

Offers more accurate and reliable data

With zero-party data individuals voluntarily provide data, which provides a direct insight into their preferences, interests and behaviours. Subsequently, this delivers more accurate and reliable data than data obtained through other means like third-party sources.

Ensures greater personalisation

Capturing zero-party data enables businesses to better understand their customers' needs. As a result, this allows companies to more effectively personalise products, services and marketing efforts towards them, which can help to improve customer experience and customer satisfaction.

Increases trust and loyalty

When individuals willingly share their preferences and information, it helps nurture an increased level of trust between them and the organisation in question.

Respecting consumers’ privacy preferences and using zero-party data transparently, also helps to build long-term relationships and create customer loyalty.

Ensures greater compliance with privacy laws

Given the increasing focus on data privacy regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), collecting zero-party data can help ensure compliance with privacy laws. And since individuals offer this data voluntarily, it aligns with the principles of consent and customer data protection.

Reduces reliance on third-party data

With growing concern over data privacy and third-party data sources, businesses are increasingly viewing zero-party data as a more reliable and ethical alternative. Less reliance on third-party or second-party data also reduces any privacy risks and potential regulatory issues that could result from misuse or a data breach.

Improves marketing effectiveness

An improved understanding of customer needs can enable more precise segmentation and messaging, resulting in higher engagement rates and a better marketing ROI. Subsequently, by exploring zero-party data, businesses can create more relevant and highly targeted marketing campaigns.

Drives more product and service innovation

Zero-party data can provide beneficial insights into unmet customer needs, as well as emerging trends, which can help better inform product and service development initiatives. And if they can incorporate this customer feedback and behaviour into their innovation process, it can help businesses create offerings that resonate better with their audiences.

Zero-party data is also a more ethical, transparent and effective approach to gathering data and personalisation, which can benefit both the business and customer alike.

How to collect zero-party data

Having found out a bit more about zero-party data and how it can benefit you, we’re sure many of you will be keen to explore zero party data collection.

Here are some strategies which will help you to create more personalised, transparent and mutually beneficial relationships between your brand and your customers.

Build a more personalised experience

The cornerstone of any successful zero-party data collection strategy is to create a more personalised experience for your customers.

Try to tailor your approach so it aligns with your brand identity and will resonate with your audience. Interactive methods such as surveys and quizzes can help here, by ensuring the experience is both informative and enjoyable for users.

Prioritise transparency

Transparency is the foundation for trust. So, you need to communicate clearly the purpose and benefits of data sharing to your customers. This is important, because when users understand how their data will be used and the value they will receive in return, they’ll be more likely to engage with you on this.

Highlight the value of exchange

Look to demonstrate the value exchange that exists between your customers and your brand.

Make it clear that through sharing their preferences, opinions and information, your customers will receive tangible benefits including personalised product recommendations, exclusive discounts, or special offers tailored to their needs and interests.

Investigate interactive experiences

Think about building interactive experiences into your zero-party data strategy.

There’s a growing list of platforms that can help you to create engaging and interactive content that seamlessly integrates with your brand. These experiences not only capture valuable data but can enhance user engagement too.

Diversify your data collection methods

Whether it’s surveys and quizzes, or loyalty programs and more, it’s prudent to employ as many data collection methods as you can for people to share their data with you.

The more diverse the better, as this will help to ensure you capture a comprehensive view of your audience’s preferences and behaviours.

Demonstrate the ultimate value exchange

Look to highlight the broader benefits of zero-party data collection.

Thanks to the insights you can gain, your brand can better understand your users, allowing a more streamlined and personalised experience. In turn, users can save time with recommendations that are tailored to their preferences, helping to foster positive and efficient interactions.

Develop enhanced customer loyalty

Demonstrate how a personalised and on-brand experience helps build strong customer loyalty, because when customers feel understood and valued, it helps nurture a positive relationship that goes beyond a one-time transaction. Such loyalty can translate into repeat business and positive word of mouth marketing.

Collecting zero-party data is not just about gathering information, it helps create a symbiotic relationship between your brand and your customers. This is because businesses that can prioritise personalisation, transparency and value exchange can unlock actionable insights and build lasting connections with their audience.

Tools to help collect zero-party data

Having got up to speed with everything to do with zero-party data, we’re sure many of you will want to know the best ways to go about collecting this data. Here’s a summary of the tools that can best help with this, which can also be utilised through the various plans that are available through SmartSurvey.

Customisable surveys and questionnaires

With the survey software and templates that are available to our customers, SmartSurvey users can create highly customisable questionnaires and surveys that help to elicit zero-party data. Subsequently, this helps provide detailed insights about a customers’ preferences and opinions.

Interactive quizzes and polls

By engaging your audience with interactive quizzes and polls, you can make the data collection process a much more enjoyable experience for your customers. And because information is gathered in a gamified manner, it helps encourage higher participation and response rates.

Responsive forms and feedback collection

You could also think about implementing dynamic forms and feedback collection mechanisms to ensure a more seamless and user-friendly experience for your customers.

The aim here is for the process of eliciting zero-party data from customers to be as frictionless as possible.

Email campaigns and invitations

You may want to try using email campaigns and personalised invitations too.

Using these methods can help you to reach out more effectively to different segments of your user base and encourage them to participate in collecting data.

Advanced survey logic

To help strengthen the personalisation of your surveys, think about using advanced survey logic.

With the use of these tools, users are only presented with what’s most relevant to them based on their previous responses, which makes the survey process much more engaging and efficient for them.

Real-time analytics, reporting and dashboards

If you’re to get the greatest value from the zero-party data that individuals have shared with you, you need to be able to analyse and get to the most important insights as soon as possible.

Thanks to the real-time analytics, reporting and survey dashboard tools, which are all available to customers on our highest survey plan, it’s quick and easy to get to what’s most important, so you can take better informed decisions.

Final thoughts

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog. When requested sparingly and applied strategically, zero-party data can vastly improve how you communicate with your customers and help you to build more meaningful connections with them.

While zero-party data helps you deliver personalised experiences, it also helps you to maintain trust and transparency. Therefore, as the digital landscape continues to evolve, embracing zero-party data is not just a smart move strategically but a commitment to customer-centricity and ethical data practices.

So, if you’ve not already started to research or use zero-party data practices, now is the time to do so.

Your data collection tools are as crucial as the type of data you collect

While the type of data you collect is crucial to the value of insights you get back and your ongoing relationship with your target audience, your choice of data collection tools is vital too. This is because it provides you with the best means of reaching out to your audience and analysing their feedback.

Find out more