Many case studies about first-party data focus on large brands. Here, Christen Luciano, director of strategic alliances at HubSpot, reviews how three midsize companies used customer data to improve their marketing effectiveness in a privacy-safe way.
It can be overwhelming to keep up with all of the regulatory and technological shifts around consumer privacy. Many businesses — especially small or medium-sized ones — don’t know where to start.
When information is collected in a responsible, privacy-focused way, people are willing to share more of it.
But navigating this shift in digital advertising presents a real opportunity for companies that meet people’s rising expectations for privacy. At the heart of the opportunity is first-party data, which is information that any business can build from its online and offline interactions with customers. These interactions may include website visits, app downloads, or even speaking to support teams over the phone.
By using first-party data, marketers can deepen their existing connections with customers and build more relevant, higher quality experiences for them. And when this information is collected in a responsible, privacy-focused way, research shows that people are willing to share more of it. According to a 2022 Google-commissioned Storyline Strategies survey of 11,000 people in 11 countries, 86% of consumers will be loyal to a brand — such as by downloading an app or buying from the brand regularly — if it is transparent about the data it collects.1
So what’s the best way to achieve this value exchange, and is it really possible for smaller companies to pull it off? Absolutely. Businesses of any size can leverage first-party data to improve the effectiveness of their advertising, while also protecting privacy.
Here at HubSpot, we’ve had the opportunity to work with numerous small companies on the cutting edge of first-party data strategy. These businesses have used HubSpot’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform to build up their first-party data and put it to work supporting better measurement, automation, and data syncing through integrations with other marketing platforms, like Google Ads.
Below are three examples of small and midsize companies that have begun achieving their marketing objectives with a privacy-focused approach.
It’s essential for any rapidly growing company to cost-effectively scale its reach. For Zoe Financial, a New York-based wealth-planning platform, this meant developing a better understanding of the value of each lead in its pipeline and optimizing marketing spend to increase high-intent potential customers.
Zoe Financial’s first-party data, stored in the HubSpot CRM platform, provided valuable insight into what makes an ideal client. Using the platform to import offline conversion events, the company measured conversion values across its full lead-to-sales journey. This new comprehensive view allowed it to optimize Google Ads campaigns to focus on converting the right prospective clients. After adopting this approach, the company saw its most valuable client segment rise to 60% of sales, the highest ever since its founding in 2018.
“Our north star is the client, and clients value their privacy,” says founder and CEO of Zoe Financial Andres Garcia-Amaya. “Partnering with Google and HubSpot helps ensure we’re meeting the clients that will most value our service where they are.”
Online tutoring startup Cluey Learning helps parents find individualized school support for their children across Australia and New Zealand.
The Cluey team used HubSpot and Google’s shared solution to store and process first-party customer data. Since diligent data privacy is critically important to the company, it used Google’s Customer Match feature to ensure the confidentiality and security of its first-party data, and protect against unauthorized access.
This approach also helped Cluey efficiently reach qualified potential customers with campaigns relevant to their needs. With Customer Match, Cluey could reach parents who had previously inquired about and provided information to Cluey by serving them ads that showcased solutions tailored to their education goals.
Through this strategy, Cluey was able to increase the effectiveness of ads seen by those audiences by 190%, while decreasing the cost of conversions by 17%, according to Cluey’s head of marketing, Duncan Jones. In practice, this means that Cluey can invest more in its efforts to reach even more parents in need.
In an increasingly competitive market, France-based startup Agicap struggled to break through the noise. The company knew its cash management software could help small businesses overcome their cash flow challenges, but the space was swamped with online ads from competitors trying to reach the same audience. Rather than continue to cast a wide net, the brand decided to nurture high-intent leads in its sales pipeline.
By feeding its first-party CRM data from HubSpot into Google Ads, Agicap sent conversion signals based on its existing prospects’ life cycle stages to Google. The company was then able to use Google’s Customer Match feature to reengage its qualified leads with relevant ads and bid higher toward this core audience.
“To have campaign results that are clearly associated with contacts was fundamental for us,” says Mickaël Jordan, chief revenue officer at Agicap. “This integration allows us to pursue a bidding strategy that’s smarter, more dynamic, and really linked to the quality of our audiences.”
These changes resulted in a 10% increase in conversions and a 15% increase in revenue growth — all while containing costs.
Improve customer experiences and loyalty using first-party data
Navigating an ever-changing privacy landscape may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to inhibit your company’s ability to know and serve customers. On the contrary, creating and maintaining consented relationships directly with your customers is a great way to truly understand them and thereby earn their trust and loyalty.
To learn more about how you can build a first-party data infrastructure to fuel CRM-powered advertising, check out the Google Ads tool available through HubSpot and HubSpot’s guide on how to drive quality leads with Google Ads.