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When the digital industry started to wrap its collective mind around third-party cookie deprecation, there was much discussion around one potential solution: focusing on first-party data.

But what many marketers heard was that they now have to "focus on growing volumes of data."

For better leads and results, however, the focus must be just as much on data actionability and quality.

Put simply, first-party data can also mean enriched data—which a sound data infrastructure should enable. And so it's time for marketers to drive discussions about building a data infrastructure that enriches data and provides valuable context around leads.

We can start doing that by highlighting key questions and considerations for marketers as they undertake the process.

Marketers need to push business leaders to invest in infrastructure that processes and adds value to first-party data, and we need to clearly demonstrate how insights gathered from a robust data infrastructure can benefit the business's bottom line.

Data infrastructure connects signals to the right teams

Let's take a minute to illustrate what data infrastructure can look like:

  • It could involve a bidirectional sync between the CRM and marketing automation, sending automated alerts to Sales about activity on the site or marketing automation efforts; integrating CRM and sales platforms to align sales and marketing efforts; automated enrichment of inbound leads to make forms more efficient; or a regular refresh of contacts in the CRM and marketing automation.
  • It could incorporate an intelligent lead routing system, along with a lead scoring system, to prioritize MQLs based on all of your data sources (not just first-party data). Part of the equation could be tag management for attribution and retargeting for all of the business's digital properties.
  • One advanced-level option is website personalization based on target account behavior.

Those examples (and there are many more) demonstrate the importance of proper infrastructure.

Data alone is cumbersome to wade through and activate; data infrastructure should be designed to make data contextual and actionable.

Adding value to first-party data calls for additional data—and teamwork

Marketers have exclusive access to a valuable pipeline of first-party data from their brands' owned and operated sites and apps. It's the lowest-hanging fruit among their data assets.

But first-party data alone won't save marketers' efforts.

A sustainable data strategy needs to incorporate intelligence from a number of first-, second-, and third-party sources. Doing so requires strong data infrastructure—which in turn requires sophisticated technology to enrich varied data signals and derive more value from existing records.

Although you can locate an individual user within your first-party data and verify which specific actions that user takes, second-party data helps identify similar users on your partners' sites. The right tech partnership can organize and deliver insights well beyond first-party data analysis to deepen a marketer's understanding and offer marketers a richer view of intent at the buyer level—all while remaining compliant with regulations and industry standards.

Data infrastructure breathes new life into cold leads

So now you're thinking about how to collect fresh, opted-in data and how to measure its relative value. But what about the relevant, valuable first-party data you already have?

Data infrastructure must integrate lead and customer records without muddying the waters with outdated, irrelevant data. Look to your CRM, and don't ignore closed deals and MQLs lost in your "lead graveyard." Marketers need strategies for updating and re-engaging those leads.

By taking CRM data that already tells a story, new data from your sites, and relevant second-party data at hand, you can use infrastructure to combine and analyze records and breathe new life into leads that once seemed to have gone cold.

And on the subject of truly cold leads... any marketer is sure to find plenty in an email list. Instead of resorting to buying a list of leads, use your existing CRM data to fuel a re-engagement campaign. Your data infrastructure should speak to your marketing automation system. From there you can segment a campaign list of past leads in your CRM that at one point contributed to your pipeline, and then re-engage them.

Build data infrastructure with a focus on compliance

Privacy-forward methods of collecting data have been top of mind for a long time, as regulations proliferate around the globe and Big Tech players nudge the bar toward data opt-outs by default. Gathering data in a compliant fashion from the business's own properties, while obvious, is easier said than done in such an environment.

Only about 2% of site visitors ever fill out a form, so most first-party site visitors need to be identified by other means. Marketers must make sure that the tools and technology they use to identify those visitors do so in a compliant fashion.

The right tools can compliantly augment first-party signals with second- and third-party data, thereby allowing marketers to turn small snippets of data into complete records, all in compliance with regulations and industry best-practices.

Focus on infrastructure to expand horizontally, not vertically, and enrich data assets

Marketers today are certainly bulking up their troves of data: Over 70% use three or more intent data sources, and 28% use more than five. But they can't allow themselves to get distracted by collecting the most data at the expense of contextualizing the data they have—and making it actionable.

Marketers need infrastructure to locate the insights that deliver results. It's easy to get lost in the weeds of expanding vertically—adding more rows of records. Expanding horizontally—enriching your records—needs to take its place near the top of marketers' priorities.

And that goal depends on a strong data infrastructure.

More Resources on Marketing Data and Infrastructure

The Missing Element in B2B Marketing Data

Heads Up, B2B Marketers: Data Rights Aren't Just a Consumer Issue

A 12-Step Guide for Driving Marketing Action With Data

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First-Party Data Isn't Enough: You'll Need the Right Data Infrastructure to Derive Value From Your Marketing Data

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image of Tukan Das

Tukan Das is the VP of product management at intent data provider Foundry, an IDG company. Formerly, he was the CEO and a co-founder of LeadSift, acquired by Foundry in 2021.

LinkedIn: Tapajyoti (Tukan) Das