Welcome to part two of our ‘First-Party Data and Registration Walls’ white paper! Whilst part one looked at the basics of data and regwalls, this second section will take a more practical approach and allow you to put your knowledge to work.
As you know, data is a powerful tool for business, but only if it’s supported by a well thought out strategy that matches the company goals. First-party data is, without a doubt, the most valuable information to collect as it’s not only owned by you but is of a high quality, collected with user consent and is the most relevant to your company. What’s more, the cookie-less future makes prioritizing this data type ever more important.
Although getting started with a first-party data strategy can seem daunting, a registration wall can provide a simple and effective way to start collecting user data in a way that won’t push them away from your site. In fact, it actually does the opposite and will help to increase engagement and build a closer relationship between you and your audience. For content producers, registration walls are the tool needed to turn the challenge of a cookie-less future into a major monetizing opportunity.
- What is ‘data’ and what’s the difference between first-, second- and third-party data?
- Why should you adopt a 1st party data strategy?
- How to collect first-party data using a registration wall?
- Where to start with a first-party data strategy?
- Examples of registration walls in a first-party data strategy.
- Best practices for using first party data with a reg wall
- Integrating and using Poool’s registration wall
Missed part one? To sum it up, we talked about the different types of data, specifically first-, second- and third-party, and how valuable a first-party data strategy is for your business, especially with the looming end to third-party cookies (which is actually great for user privacy and data protection). We also highlighted how a registration wall is a hugely beneficial tool to employ in this strategy, allowing you not only collect first-party data but also personalize the user experience, monetize your content and build a stronger relationship with your audience.
Remember, we're here if you have any questions or want to get some more personalized help with your first-party data strategy! Just drop us a message and we'll arrange a meeting.
1. Where to start with a first-party data strategy?
To put your data to use, you should work through a 3-step process:
- Set a strategy
- Collect, store, transform and combine data
- Analysis and activation
1. Set a strategy:
This is where you set the foundations by defining exactly what you want to achieve with your first-party data strategy.
- Determine your data needs. What data points do you actually need to inform your strategy? Map out the user journey and work out what data is required to enhance each step
- Define goals to match your larger business objectives. A first-party data strategy can contribute to these goals, including improving conversion rates, retention, engagement, and more
- Do an inventory of existing data. This will help you to work out what you already have, what more you need and maybe where you can improve on your current data collection
2. Collect, store, transform and combine data:
Collection - data collection is usually achieved online via actions and interactions on your website, app, etc. But information can also come from call centres, email exchanges, in-person sales, and more depending on your business. In particular, as mentioned in part one of this white paper, email collection, account creation and logged-in users are highly valuable in gathering first-party data. These can all be put in place through employing a registration wall (which also comes with a handful of other benefits).
Storing and transforming - this is an important part of the whole process as a poor method of storing data will make analysis and activation extremely difficult, which is ultimately the reason why you’re following this strategy in the first place. A management platform of some type is very useful at this stage and, by choosing the right one to match your objectives, your first-party data strategy becomes a whole lot easier.
DMP vs CDP vs CIP (it’s confusing, we know!)
What is a DMP?
A Data Management Platform is used to gather, group and classify 2nd and 3rd party data. The focus is therefore on anonymous data rather than PII (Personally Identifiable Information). DMPs are aimed at advertisers, mainly for ad targeting and acquisition marketing. Some DMP software providers include Lotame, On Audience and Permutive (for publishers).
What is a CDP?
A Customer Data Platform is a data management system with a unified database that allows for collection and combining of data from multiple sources in order to form single user profiles. Here, the focus is on first-party data, from known, identifiable customers, but other data can be integrated too. CDPs look at the full, omnichannel customer lifecycle and create 360-degree user profiles. Some CDP companies include Segment, Bloomreach and Insider.
What is a CIP?
A Customer Intelligence Platform is arguably a modernized, ‘intelligent’ version of a CDP. A CIP gathers, combines and analyzes user data in order to identify individuals across channels and applications at every stage of their journey. But, differently to a CDP, it involves machine learning and AI to leverage data modelling algorithms. This allows you to enrich your own data and gain a complete picture of your users. A few CIP software providers include Zeotap, Oracle Data Cloud and Accenture Insights Platform
Combine data - firstly, integrate any data collected into this new storage method. Next, you can consider combining third-party data with your own information. Despite the value of first-party data, it is limited in that it only includes information from visitors to your site. 3rd-party data, however, can help fill the gaps here, allowing you to find new customers and expand your audience. As we mentioned, the reliability of third-party data can sometimes be questioned and it’s not as relevant to your site as 1st-party data, but when combined with that you’ve collected yourself, it can be very powerful. Enrich your own data, fill in gaps in user profiles and reach new audiences.
3. Analysis and activation:
This is the part where you can actually put your data to use and see it do its magic. There are a huge number of ways you can go about this and it’s very dependent on your strategy and goals. For example, you could prioritize current users, analyzing their behavior and interactions with your site in order to activate the data collected to personalize (and so improve) their experience.
For content creators, we think 3 of the key ways that data can be applied to your website is through personalization (user segmentation and profiling), improving the conversion funnel and predicting.
User segmentation and profiling:
In short, this refers to personalizing the user experience. To start with, it might feel like an impossible and daunting task to segment your audiences and provide each individual with a personalized experience. However, with the right tools and strategies, you can seamlessly integrate it into your business and user journey.
What is user profiling?
It refers to creating a single view of a customer. With a registration wall, you can track a user’s movements and behavior from the moment they create an account and across devices. But, with profiling, you merge this data with any information gathered preregistration in order to create a single view. You can now see what made the user create an account, how they behaved through the registration process and so on, as well as aggregating every user touchpoint (browser, mobile, app).
Once you do this, you can then group individuals to create user segments. The factors for groupings can be anything that matches your business model - such as segmentation based on preferred content-type, age range, etc. A good place to start is to look for what attributes appear to drive engagement (whether behavioral, demographic or lifecycle). For example, let’s look at behavioral segmentation (based on behavioral data such as clicks, likes, downloads, page views, interactions) which can help you to find patterns and correlations with higher engagement and retention. This will allow you to better understand what guides decision-making in your users (which is every marketer's dream) and personalize each group’s experience to encourage them to make certain ‘decisions’ that will benefit your strategy. This could be leading them to subscription or simply improving their experience on your site to increase retention and loyalty.
Improving the conversion funnel:
Data can be utilized to benefit every single stage in the conversion funnel, from acquisition to retention and possibly upselling.
- Acquisition - e.g. you could optimize acquisition choosing to only use a paywall with loyal users who appear to have a high propensity to subscribe
- Engagement - e.g. use data to analyze what engages different profiles and how you can optimize your site to increase engagement
- Conversion - e.g. your data might suggest that conversion is higher when you offer a one month free trial to your premium offer
- Retention - e.g. you could reward loyalty to long-term subscribers or reduce churn by taking predictive measures based on your data (find out more about reducing churn and churn modelling here). What’s more, improving retention is not only less expensive than acquiring new customers, but also more profitable (see image below)
- Upselling - e.g. by having a better understanding of your audience, you can sell them products or services more effectively in the future
We actually have a whole other white paper dedicated to optimizing your conversion funnel on our blog!
By analyzing and optimizing the whole customer journey - from arriving on your site to (hopefully) becoming a long-term member/subscriber - you can understand each user individually and create personalized and targeted experiences. Treating your users in this way will encourage them to be engaged, to convert and to remain loyal to your brand. What’s more, if done effectively, a consistently customized experience can lead to users developing an emotional connection with you, something which is hugely valuable.
“Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs...On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.” - Harvard Business Review
The accuracy and relevance of your first-party data can allow you to not only predict future trends, and so be constantly one step ahead, but also predict user actions. This is hugely valuable information for reducing churn rates. For example, you might discover that a certain behavior correlates with a user becoming less engaged in your content and not visiting your site as often. Spotting this pattern means you can take preventative measures and reduce churn. We discuss this in more detail in this article about minimizing churn risks (specifically subscriber churn). Predictive analytics can also be used on the other side of the funnel in a subscription strategy, using data to understand user decision-making patterns and predict what is most likely to convert leads into sales.
“89% of successful businesses say anticipating customer needs and providing assistive experiences along the customer journey are critical to growth.” - Think with Google
2. Examples of registration walls in a first-party data strategy.
Registration walls can play a hugely valuable role in a first-party data strategy (which we highlighted in part 1 of this white paper). However, many assume that walls are solely reserved for online newspapers and magazines. This is far from true and, in fact, most of us will encounter one on a regular basis.
Asked to register or sign-in before viewing a site? That’s a regwall, and it’s employed by a wide variety of businesses online, from social media such as Instagram, Pinterest and even LinkedIn, to e-learning platforms, TV-replay sites and brands. In this section, we’ll look at a few examples of registration walls with the specific focus of how they can collect data through this strategy. To learn more about regwall’s, their benefits and best practices for using one, check out our dedicated article: What is a Registration Wall?
Example from news journalism: The Independent
A registration wall appears on the first article that a user reads. They’re honest and upfront in stating that registration supports them to continue to provide independent journalism and ‘Join our community’ creates a sense of belonging and inclusivity. The benefits of registration are foregrounded: it’s free, gets a user access to premium articles, they can sign up to newsletters, comment on stories and attend events. Interestingly, users have the option of selecting ‘I’ll try later’ and continuing reading without registering.
The registration form is short and requires very little information (and so effort) from the reader but after this process, The Independent can gradually collect more data from the user who can be tracked on every visit. Information such as ‘country’ allows for automatic personalization features. Again, the benefits are highlighted to help nudge users through the funnel. The opt-out policy also informs readers that they can unsubscribe at any time and manage their preferences.
There are also calls to action scattered across the site, which not only encourage registration (e.g. commenting in the forum is reserved for members) but also allow for data collection even from non-registered users (e.g. the newsletter sign up).
The account creation confirmation page is personalized to include the user’s name and automatically logs them in as well as giving links to their account page and to return back to the content that they were reading.
The confirmation email contains further information about what benefits come with registration as well as some tips to help the user to make the most of their account. Very cleverly, one of these is to ‘Stay logged in’. Although this does improve a user’s experience, it mainly allows the publisher to collect as much data from them as possible and so proving valuable to their first-party data strategy.
Example from a brand: Welcome To The Jungle
The regwall on WTTJ cuts a user off mid article and requires account creation to continue. Note that some articles are premium and so reserved for subscribers (as part of their freemium paywall strategy). The wall is very informal to match their brand which also helps to develop a friendly, close relationship with their users. Below is an example of the English and French version which use completely different wording to encourage a user to register. (French version translated: Staaaaaaay! We know, pop-ups are a pain. BUT this one’s inviting you to become a member. AND it’s free. AND the experience is cool. So… Become a member. - note the word choices such as ‘relou’ and ‘bref’ which are very colloquial. )
Creating an account is framed as joining a community which helps develop user loyalty. WTTJ facilitates the registration process by providing the option of using an existing LinkedIn account, which also matches their brand’s focus of helping professionals and job seekers (using a Facebook sign-up might be less appropriate here). This also allows them to collect data from LinkedIn about the user’s job, including their company and position, as well as location, information which will prove valuable to the company when optimizing their site.
Very little information is required in the form stage, making the user’s journey as easy as possible. They also choose to provide opt-out rather than opt-in buttons for the newsletter which often leads to an increased number of users who receive the newsletter. At the bottom of the wall, WTTJ explains how they process user’s data. Data privacy is becoming increasingly important (for good reason) so ensure that you are clear, honest and respectful. This will not only allow you to abide by privacy regulations but also build a trusting relationship with your users.
Login data can now be collected and the user gets a better experience thanks to being able to access content, submit and track applications, save content and jobs for later as well as receive email newsletters.
Did you know, Welcome To The Jungle employs Poool’s registration wall. With Poool Access, they’ve been able to design every aspect of the wall and greatly develop their first-party data collection strategy. Interested in achieving the same results as WTTJ? Get in touch and we can arrange a 1-to-1 meeting to discuss your business needs.
Example from an e-learning platform: Codecademy
Codecademy is an online learning platform with free and premium (‘pro’) courses for users to work through in order to learn how to code. Registration is free and required from all users before being able to access their site. The form is integrated into the wall itself, shortening the process and reducing the number of clicks required to register. There are also 4 other sign in options using existing social accounts: LinkedIn, Google, Facebook or Github. These alternative methods of account creation facilitate the data collection process as information can be shared between the two companies.
Users then have the choice of accessing the content straight away or getting more guidance. Clicking on the latter option brings us to 4 multiple choice questions that seamlessly move from one to the next after a user selects an option. This approach not only helps to customize the user’s account and recommend relevant content, but it also plays a role in data collection as the company builds an increasingly more complete profile of their user.
Below is the user’s homepage where they’re able to see their current courses, set goals and weekly targets as well as browse the catalog. Users are automatically logged in on their browser so data can be collected from every visit.
This login data can also be collected via their app where registration or sign-in is required before gaining access. User’s are also encouraged to turn on notifications to encourage daily use of the app, thus increasing user loyalty, engagement and the amount of data collected.
For more examples of registration walls, take a look at our dedicated article on the Poool blog: ‘6 examples of Registration Wall’.
3. Best practices for using first party data with a reg wall
To make the most out of your registration wall and optimize the user experience with first-party data, we’ve come up with 5 best practices. Although your strategy is unique to you and your business, content and audience, these general tips will be beneficial to all and are useful to bear in mind.
- Ask users for permission to collect first-party data (this is also a legal requirement in the EU) and do so in the right way: Be clear and visible when presenting a consent banner to users, giving them the option to decline. Be honest and truthful, don’t hide your reasons for collecting data (trust is the foundation of your relationship with readers). Provide value for users, highlight the enhanced user experience that comes with data collection or give other benefits. Finally, provide users with an account preference center where they can configure data collection settings later on. These aspects will help you to create meaningful relationships with your users built on trust, allowing you to unlock the value of your 1st-party data.
- Ask users for registration early on, even if this simply involves asking for their email. This single action, which requires little effort from a user, can hugely benefit your data collection and help to create a single user profile. And you can make their life even easier if you offer registration through an existing social account, such as Google, Facebook or Apple, which can also provide you with added information about their profile.
- Create real value for your registered users. The whole idea of a regwall as part of a first-party data strategy is that you’re creating a value exchange - you benefit from being able to collect information and insights from users in exchange for them receiving a better experience on your site. This can take many forms and depends on your content-type and business model. TV replay sites, for example, that require registration usually provide an account area where a user can save shows for later, resume where they left off and be presented with personalized recommendations. For brands, this could mean sending users offers or discounts via email, providing a points system after purchases and allowing users to customize the content or products shown to them. Alternatively, you could employ a strategy similar to that of the Canadian Globe and Mail who adds a personalization feature at the bottom of every article (shown even to non-registered users). Similarly to on social media sites, you can follow a particular author or topic. Importantly, this model also shows non-registered users the value in creating an account (value proposition).
- Embrace experimentation and A/B testing. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to design the optimal journey for every one of your user segments first time round. Testing is the way forward here, and A/B testing is particularly useful to directly compare two options in terms of their performance. This goes for every aspect of every stage in the user journey. For example, the form in the account creation process is extremely important and you might want to experiment with the amount of information required of your users, what questions you ask, how it appears on the page, whether you offer registration using an existing social account (Google, Apple, Facebook, etc), and more. There’s a lot of possibilities, and experimentation and testing is how you’ll make the best choices at every point in order to optimize your site and achieve your business goals.
- Personalization is the key to building a trusting and meaningful relationship with your audience, which is the foundation of reducing churn and improving user loyalty. Even simply directly addressing a reader by using their name within a wall (as Medium does below) will make a difference and help your users to feel like a valued individual rather than someone who is simply part of a large audience on your site. By collecting 1st-party data, you will have all the knowledge needed to fully customize user journeys (particularly after registration), and it would be a greatly wasted opportunity to not profit from this benefit of a first-party data strategy. Remember: relationships lead to revenue.
4. Integrating and using Poool’s registration wall
Our dependence on third-party cookies is going to create a significant problem for marketers around the world. With this data source being cut off, publishers lack the tools needed to adapt and thrive in this new internet world.
However, registration walls can provide the solution, allowing publishers to not only collect data but also abide by privacy regulations, increase user engagement and, importantly, strengthen the relationship between the reader and publisher. With this tool, publishers can turn the cookie-less future from a challenge to a huge revenue opportunity.
Poool Access aims to help you do just that.
What is Poool Access?
Poool Access is a dynamic wall solution. It’s very simple to integrate into your site but provides a hugely wide range of benefits to your business, including monetization, lasting relationships with your audience and increased engagement. With Poool, you can segment your audience and create personalized compensation choices in order to give access to your content.
With our technology, you can employ a registration wall to kick-start your first-party data strategy and collect owned, high quality and relevant data that can be used to directly benefit your business in a variety of ways. It’s the perfect ecosystem of collecting, analyzing and applying data, all within your own site.
After a single-tag integration, you can use our publisher Dashboard to segment audiences, personalize the user journey, A/B test, analyze and adapt. All in one place and without the need for tech teams to get involved. What’s more, part of the beauty of Poool Access is its complete adaptability to your business, content and audience. We know that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, so our Dashboard means you can customize every aspect of the wall ensuring that it brings you the best results possible.
How can I use Poool Access to employ a registration wall?
Thanks to the flexibility of Poool’s solution, you can use it as part of any strategy that matches your business goals. You could, for example, use it to offer users a few articles in exchange for watching an ad and then block them from accessing any more content unless they subscribe (a paywall model). Alternatively, by using the ‘Form’ widget, you can employ Poool Access as a registration wall:
- For the registration wall model, you also need to design the form itself (what information readers need to provide), which can be done via the ‘Form’ section from the left-hand menu. Here, you can design multiple form types, configuring the fields included, what type of information the user will need to provide (e.g. email address, password, date, checkbox), the format that their info needs to be in (e.g. password with certain characters) and the variable name. A lot is possible at this stage - for example, you could add the option of logging in with Facebook or Google. Alternatively, like the image below, you can choose to simply collect the user's email address
- Within the Dashboard, you can also segment your audiences based on their context. For instance, you could present a different journey to a user depending on their location, where they came from (Google vs social media) or the type of content that they’re on
- For each of these audience segments, you can create and A/B test journeys as well as analyze results in order to find the optimal appearance, wording, etc, for each user context
- In order to make your wall into a registration wall, you need to place the ‘Form’ widget into the user journey. You can customize this block to make it either a requirement, optional or provide an alternative (such as watching an ad).
- Our solution is very easily implemented and configured within the Dashboard and all information collected can be sent directly to your chosen data management platform simply by employing a certain event. This gives marketing teams the autonomy to optimize the user journey and prioritize a first-party data strategy without the need for tech teams to be involved.
You can try out the Dashboard and all its features with our free trial! Just get in contact and we'll arrange a meeting.
What do our team have to say about registration walls?
“We are currently witnessing enormous interest towards the registration wall functionality. Not only because it is a first step to better convert your audience into subscribers (with up to 200% better conversion rates for logged in users), but also because it is a way to get to know your audience better. Hence, be able to better monetize them.” - Jimena Llamas, Customer Success at Poool
“Poool’s vision is to offer open, flexible and simple features to our clients. Our regwall solution perfectly achieves these 3 goals, which is great! Keeping this vision in mind, building a product or feature can be challenging but, at the same time, it’s very satisfying when you succeed. And the best reward is seeing our clients benefiting from our wall and achieving their goals, which we’ve definitely had the pleasure of experiencing with our registration wall solution!” - Caroline Douet, Product Manager at Poool
“Registration walls are now essential to any publisher’s monetization strategy. In order to build long lasting revenue streams, content creators need to build relationships with their readers… turn anonymous visitors into a community of engaged readers. Bottom line, we help publishers turn their audience into leads: leads for their clients and leads for themselves. Poool makes it easy to launch or optimize a registration strategy. In order to find their sweet spot (controlling bounce rate), our clients can gradually go from suggesting registration to fans who want access to some specific content, to later implementing a wider, stricter registration approach” - Stephane Pere, Chief Revenue Officer
To conclude, a registration wall is a simple but effective way to solve the challenge faced with the end of third-party cookies. A regwall will not only allow you to survive in this new world, but thrive: monetize your audience, increase engagement and, most importantly, build a strong and lasting relationship with your users.
Interested in kick-starting your first-party data strategy with a registration wall? Let's book you in for a free demo!