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How Zero-Party Attribution Data Fuels A Competitive Advantage For DTC Brands

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How Zero-Party Attribution Data Fuels a Competitive Advantage for DTC Brands

Over the past few years, DTC brands have learned a valuable lesson: The map is not the territory. What looks like a predictable growth model on paper is, in fact, a much more treacherous terrain once the ground starts shifting.

Nowhere has this lesson been more apparent than in marketing attribution—the never- ending quest to know where a purchasing customer hails from, and whether there are more where that came from. 

As the foundation of performance marketing, attribution now faces severe headwinds from data privacy, rising CACs, platform reporting errors, and blurring lines between earned vs. paid media.

It all sounds like a daunting path to navigate, which is why DTC brands are increasingly taking the shortcut Fairing provides: Asking customers for feedback because no one knows the territory like they do. In marketing parlance, this is known as zero-party data for attribution.

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More specifically, with Fairing’s post-purchase surveys, brands can ask targeted questions throughout the customer journey. 90% of the time, the first question asked is, “how did you hear about us?” 

While a simple question–the response can prove extremely powerful for optimizing strategy.

If you’re a DTC brand running performance marketing campaigns, read on to discover how the value of this zero-party data point is next to priceless.

Lighting Up Direct Traffic

Unattributed sales showing up as “direct” or “unknown” (often 15-30% of all sales) plague DTC brands and their media campaigns. 

By asking customers to self-attribute, Fairing clients typically gain around 20% more attribution data, much of which comes from resolving direct traffic. 

Ground Truth on Paid Media 

For brands running omnichannel solutions across Paid Social and Paid Search, trying to stay on top of which platform is underreporting or overreporting is a constant struggle. 

Attribution surveys provide a second opinion–that of the customer—to prevent ad platforms from grading their own homework.

Emerging Channels

You don’t know what you don’t know, but what’s so great about zero-party data is that your customers do know, and they’re happy to tell you. 

If there’s an unheard-of website or popular influencer generating organic exposure for your brand, you’ll hear about it from your attribution survey responses. 

Perfect example: Fairing clients were among the first to lean into TikTok because their customers tipped them off–long before TikTok even had an ad model! 

Of course, zero-party data builds a marketing advantage in plenty of other ways. Some of Fairing’s recommended survey questions touch on personalization, CRO, revenue ops, competitive research, etc., but here are a few notable tactics from their survey methodologists:

Expanded Demographics

Whatever audience demographics you have at your fingertips, your competitors likely have as well. With that, let individual customers self-segment for personalization that has unique, actionable value to your brand (For example: Skill level, lifestyle, skin tone, household, size, etc.), and plug that data point into your email & SMS platforms for impeccably targeted content campaigns and product offers. 

This is where data integrations across your marketing stack are crucial, exposing the utility distinction between operationalized zero-party data and traditional research-focused survey data.

Use Case Discovery

Think you know why people buy? You’d be surprised. Fairing has repeatedly seen brands ask questions like, “What problem does this product solve for you?” and learn there are entirely untapped audiences who see value-adds that the brand never even considered. 

These epiphanies happen often enough that some brands discover a new use case even before their 14-day free trial of Fairing concludes!

Competitive Shifts

DTC brands can learn more about their competitive landscape with a post-purchase survey than many traditional retailers could learn from a six-figure research study. Just ask, “Are you switching from another brand?” to see where you’re winning prospects over—and better yet, follow up with, “What makes us better?”, and you’ve got your next direct response creative inspiration staring you in the face.

Safety Nets

Business driven by referral codes and coupons is woefully underreported, often because customers forget to use the codes. If you’re running a multi-faceted Black Friday / Cyber Monday campaign, or working with influencers and affiliates, then giving customers another opportunity to confirm their referral source can help keep your metrics clean and your partners happy.

Revenue Insights

One benefit of zero-party data is that it’s often readable and actionable from the moment it’s collected. To that end, Fairing’s integrations with Business Intelligence tools and analytics dashboards make pivoting your revenue data very straightforward. 

Ask customers whether they’re buying for themselves or for someone else, then see what happens when it turns out your AOV is actually quite distinctive between buyers and users. 

Pose a question such as “What were you expecting to pay for this product before shopping with us?” and see how LTV pans out across cohorts with different price assumptions.

Case-in-Point: How One Skincare Brand Used Attribution Data to Avoid a Costly Mistake 

When a popular line of marine scientist-backed skincare turned to MuteSix to implement an end-to-end omnichannel solution to scale their business, they chose Fairing as the post-purchase survey platform best suited to help inform their strategy. 

MuteSix and the brand partnered with Fairing thanks to its easy-to-use UI and robust analytics, as well as unique ability to remove biases from UTM tracking and identify pockets of wins for targeting and segmenting.

As a result of Fairing’s Post-Purchase Survey–which had a 30% completion rate–MuteSix was able to learn the following:

  • Over 50% of purchases came from Instagram
  • Almost 20% of purchase traffic came from TikTok, meaning TikTok held more purchase volume than seen with in-platform metrics and UTMs

Upon learning more about the brand’s customer traffic, MuteSix was able to fine-tune strategy to further drive growth. Before diving deep into Fairing’s attribution data, it was assumed that TikTok warranted a bump in ad spend at the expense of Meta. 

However, this proved inaccurate, and as such, the MuteSix team kept TikTok spend level, while scaling up on Meta–testing more extensively into audiences, creative, and placements.

So, just how valuable was the attribution data? By optimizing efforts across Meta, the skincare line saw a 40.7% bump in new customer acquisitions and 46.6% spike in revenue–in just one month!

Final Thoughts: Zero Doubts About Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data is a DTC brand’s inherent advantage, but it’s also a Swiss army knife in your organization’s toolbox for tackling known-unknowns and sharpening market expertise. 

All of Fairing’s example use cases above append transaction and traffic data to each response, aligning sentiment with behavior to be a consistent source of ground truth as your brand explores–and subsequently conquers–new territory.

To learn more about partnering with Fairing to supercharge your paid media strategy with the power of zero-party data for attribution, reach out to the experts at MuteSix today. 

About Fairing

Fairing tells your marketing stack what it needs to hear. Powering a million post-purchase surveys every week for thousands of DTC brands, we bring speed & scale to zero-party data. See it in action at Fairing.co, or on Twitter @FairingData.

Special thanks to our friends at MuteSix for their insights on this topic.
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