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How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

Goodbye Third-Party Data, Hello Zero Party Data

Table of Contents

Stop using third party data.

Stop using second party data.

And… Stop using first party data.

We’re going all the way to zero in 2024.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly how you can master zero party data in email marketing to build trust with your audience, understand them better, and grow your business.

Let’s dive in.

Why Does First Party Data Matter Right Now?

Now, more than ever, privacy is everything.

Over the past few years, online data privacy issues have risen, leaving consumers distrusting of companies online.

It's not surprising to know that 64% of the population no longer trusts businesses to protect consumer data.


For years, we’ve relied on external parties to collect and manage internet users’ data, but what was once the norm now represents serious concerns about global data privacy.

It’s almost impossible to provide a personalized customer experience (which is what most customers want) without collecting and leveraging relevant data. And at the same time, businesses don’t have the option to overlook data protection.

The only solutions are to: 

1. Incorporate data protection as an integral part of online business strategy
2. Develop better practices to process data

One of the new and revolutionary practices is leveraging zero-party data.

Besides being a more transparent and ethical data management approach, leveraging zero-party data helps you gain more accurate and valuable insights about your target audience. This is crucial for email marketing.

Unlike other marketing channels where you can attract leads (even if you don’t know their personal information), email marketing success depends primarily on the data that drives it.

But before we dive deep into zero-party data and how to leverage it in email marketing, we need to back up a bit and talk about cookies.

Why Listen to Me? I’ve generated over $1 million with email and written over 1,000 blog posts. I run Storey Time, a newsletter where I teach people how to become full-time digital writers. Feel free to reach out to me on X anytime!

Hello Goodbye: From Third-Party to Zero-Party Data

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

Do you know about cookies? No, not grandma’s yummy chocolate chip cookies. Digital cookies. Third-party cookies. They’re everywhere online. But… not for long.

If you haven’t heard, third-party cookies are going away in 2024. But, what does this mean? And how does this impact you and your email newsletter strategy? And… What even is a cookie?

Third-Party Cookies Explained

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

Almost every website you visit on the internet places third-party cookies on your browser. These cookies are then used to track your activity online so you can be targeted with ads. A company will take a “cookie” -– which is simply aggregated data — from site A and site B to give to site C.

As the owner of site C, you can then offer up advertisements that are relevant to your visitors based on the cookies placed on them from sites A and B. The cookie from those sites essentially acts as a crystal ball into who the customer is, what their demographics are, what their preferences are, their past purchasing behavior, and more.

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

You can then leverage third-party cookies to serve up better offers to site visitors through advertisements. This data enables you to offer more value to your visitors, turn them into leads, and convert them to customers (or simply earn ad revenue through displayed ads).

But there’s one teeny, tiny problem with third-party cookies…

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

What’s the problem with cookies? They’re an invasion of privacy.

Consumers have become increasingly concerned with digital privacy in the past few years. Third-party cookies are a concern to consumers because they essentially identify you on multiple sites. 

Since cookies can know your IP address, your behavioral information, and the device you’re using, it can make estimations on your age, gender, and interests.

These third-party companies can use cookies to build an eerily accurate profile of you, and this is all done without you directly handing over information about yourself to random sites, companies, and advertisers who use the data.

This excessive data collection, which you didn’t even directly provide, lead to overtly optimized ads, making you feel like someone’s watching you (or your phone is listening to your conversations).

Who would like to be marketed to with personal information they didn't even share in the first place? Millions of internet users have gone through this unpleasant experience, which pushed internet browsers to make a change. 

Google & the Death of Third-Party Cookies

In 2020, Google released a major announcement that stated they would be phasing out third-party cookies in Google Chrome.

And in December 2023, Google officially announced that they’d be gone by the end of 2024.

What’s the impact in terms of scale? 

Well, Chrome accounts for 65.7% of the entire web browser market ahead of Safari (18.1%), Edge (4.9%), and Firefox (3.1%).

As the leading browser, other browsers will likely follow suit. In fact, a few of the major players such as Safari and Firefox have already put a stop to third-party cookies.

It’s Not the First Privacy Change (and Won't Be the Last)

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

On June 7, 2021, Apple announced a new feature to iOS15 called Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). This new feature offers greater privacy measures for Apple iPhone, iPad, and macOS users and prevents email marketers and advertisers from collecting information about them.

This feature allows users to hide their precise location, hide their IP address, and hide whether or not they’ve opened an email. This means that marketers aren’t able to utilize this data or send it to other websites.

The immediate impact of MPP for email marketers and newsletter operators meant inaccurate open rates, flawed A/B testing of subject lines, deliverability tracking issues, and a reduction in personalized data capture.

Consumers want more privacy. It’s normal for laws and regulations to change in their favor and for major tech giants to update their privacy features. And by extension, it’s necessary for brands and email newsletter operators to adjust their strategy.

So what’s the solution?

Overview: First-Party & Zero-Party Data

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

As a brand leveraging newsletters or a creator who uses email newsletters to reach your audience, how are you supposed to collect and leverage data without the downsides of third-party cookies (especially since they’re coming to an end)?

It’s simple. You need to find new ways to capture your audience's data.

One of the alternatives is first-party cookies. They are similar to third-party cookies, except instead of collecting data from multiple sites and aggregating them before sending it to another site, it’s collected and used by the same site.

  • Third-Party Cookies: Data is collected from site A + site B, then sent to company X to give to site C.

  • First-Party Cookies: Data from site A is collected from site A to be used by site A.

Simply put, first-party cookies allow you as a website owner to collect data from your site’s visitors only.

This makes it much more accurate and valuable to website owners and newsletter operators since it comes directly from your website and you can better understand your visitors and leverage that to improve your business.

How First-Party Data Is Collected

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

Examples of first-party data collected on your website:

  • Website interactions

  • Mobile app interactions

  • Email newsletter interactions

  • Purchase history

  • SMS messaging

  • CRM data

  • Point-of-sale 

  • Subscription information

  • Call centers

  • Social media data

  • And more 

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

First-party data can be automatically collected from consumers by placing a pixel on your site, app, product, or social channels. This is then recorded in a CRM, email newsletter software, or other platform.

In Trend #1 above, we talked about the importance of increasing your personalization in your newsletter. Well, implementing a first-party strategy is a great way to keep personalization at the forefront of your newsletter strategy, especially since third-party cookies are on their way out.

However, the first-party data approach has its limitations. It can help you understand your visitors, improve their experience, and retarget them with ads. But at the end of the day, you can only get insights from their interactions. It doesn’t help you understand the new prospects who haven’t engaged with your website.

However, before we move onto the next trend in 2024, there is an even juicier approach than first-party data…

Zero-Party Data Explained

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

Zero-party data is even more accurate and insightful than first-party data.

While first-party data is collected automatically through your website, zero-party data is data that your audience voluntarily shares with you.

The term “zero-party data” was first popularized by Forrester⁶. They define it as “data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand.”

First-party and zero-party data might seem similar because you don’t need a middleman in either of them to acquire data. However, there is a key difference between them.

To acquire first-party data, you need to track visitors’ interactions and behaviors on your website to collect data, but acquiring zero-party data depends on your customer directly telling you the moves they’re making, their interests, pain points, demographics, etc.

Zero-party data requires direct customer action to hand over information to you, which leaves no room for inference or guesswork.

Why You Need To Leverage Zero-Party Data

You might think that this approach is not effective because making people willingly share their information with a business is hard, or maybe you think there are only a few people interested in sharing their information, which means you can’t acquire enough consumer data in a cookie-free world.

That’s not true.

Statistics have shown that 74% of consumers are willing to share personal information with brands. For email marketing specifically, 77% of consumers worldwide are willing to share their email address with brands if given the right incentives.

Zero-party data is the most effective and valuable data you can acquire. Let’s dive deeper in the benefits of zero-party data and why you should leverage it, especially for email marketing.

4 Reasons To Adopt a Zero-Party Data Approach in Email Marketing

Zero party data is about giving consumers what they want. But it’s not just about consumers. It’s also beneficial for business owners and newsletter operators looking to grow.

Here are four reasons why you need to adopt a zero-party data approach in email marketing:

It all started with data privacy concerns.

Zero-party data presents zero violation to privacy laws. When a consumer decides to share data with you, this is a direct consent that no other data collection approach can guarantee.

This approach makes the consumer an active participant in the data collection process. The consumer gets to choose which information they’re okay with sharing and which information they prefer to keep to themselves.

This is especially true when the brand is transparent about how the data is going to be used and for what exactly it’s going to be used for. This makes the process ethical and clear, as there are no invisible cookies that track consumer behavior and interactions.

2. Accurate Data

A zero-party data approach provides the highest accuracy rate.

When the source of your consumer data is your consumers themselves, this minimizes the risk of acquiring wrong, outdated, or misleading information.

There’s no middleman. Your customer is handing you their data directly.

Other approaches can get you a larger and more diverse set of consumer data, but a smaller set of highly-accurate, up-to-date, and relevant data is always more valuable. Data quality and accuracy is the foundation of smart decision-making, which is vital for any business.

And if you apply a zero-party data approach the right way, you can get the best of both worlds (quantity and quality).

This accuracy aspect is super important for email marketing and email newsletters. Unlike social media or search engines where the algorithm and your content quality can lead people to you, email marketing needs accurate personal data.

This means data like name, active email address, interests, etc.

Just think about it…

How many people can “accidentally” visit your email newsletters compared to your website or Instagram page?

3. Better Customer Experience

Every brand on Earth wants to provide the best possible experience for their audience.

Since it’s consumer-focused, this is another area where the zero-party data approach comes in handy.

81% of consumers are willing to share their personal information in exchange for personalization (personalized content, help, experiences, etc.).

For example, personalized emails have a 29.3% average open rate and a 5.3% click-through rate compared to 22.2% and 2.6% (respectively) for non-personalized emails.

When you listen to people and get the input directly from them, you’re better equipped to create and deliver exactly what they want. Plus, the more you do this, the more they will be willing to share more information with you.

When you understand (and leverage) this approach, you will get to know your customers on a deeper level, which will give you a huge competitive advantage in your industry and niche.

And what’s even better, this personalization factor enables you to tap into new levels of monetization. Whether you’re a business, newsletter operator, or a personal brand, you get to charge more for a personalized experience that matches what your audience is looking for.

4. Value-Based Relationship

With email, you have to offer a ton of upfront value before asking for people’s email addresses, but this can be tricky because the effectiveness of your email marketing depends on which type of leads it contains.

If you have an email list of freebie seekers instead of high-quality leads who are interested and willing to invest in the right newsletter content (or offer) to solve their pain points, your email marketing won’t move the needle.

Many people are ready to exchange their email address for something they deem valuable (offers, coupons, relevant lead magnets, etc.). This means that the offer you use to capture leads and nurture them with newsletters needs to be extremely valuable in the eyes of your target audience.

And… you can’t provide that valuable thing without knowing your customers.

Zero-party data enables you to conduct the needed research to understand your audience, so you can provide the right incentive. Your relationship with your newsletter subscribers will be value-based from the very beginning, and you will grow an email list of quality leads (plus you will need less nurturing to convert them).

How You Collect Zero-Party Data 

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

Zero party data isn’t difficult to collect. It’s actually really straightforward, especially when you use the right marketing tools, like beehiiv.

Here’s are a few ways you can collect zero-party data:

  • Email forms (name, email, phone number)

  • Interactive quizzes or game responses

  • Polls

  • Surveys

  • Messages or emails with your audience

  • Loyalty program memberships

  • Multi-step opt-in forms

  • Interviews

  • Preference data

  • Purchase intentions

  • Feedback forms

  • Customer support history

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

How To Use Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data isn’t just about collecting information.

What’s more important is how you use the data.

The data you acquired with the zero-party approach is accurate, up-to-date, and highly valuable. If you start to leverage it, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a game changer for your brand.

Here are some examples of how you can use your zero-party data the right way:

1. Offer Development

The closer your offer is to your customer needs and wants, the more successful it will be.

Did you know that 91% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that provide relevant offers?

The best way to make an offer relevant is to tailor it according to zero-party data.

2. Content Creation

Being able to address individual needs with personalized and targeted content is a game changer.

For example, in January, I ran a poll in two of my email newsletters, asking my audience (of freelance writers) what they want to learn more about.

I gave them four options: 

  • Ghostwriting emails

  • Growing on X (Twitter)

  • Running your own blog

  • Writing freelance blog posts

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

In both polls, the clear winner was email.

Most people wanted to learn more about how I’ve made a living by writing emails for clients (and tips on how to upgrade their email skills).

How To Master Zero Party Data in Email Marketing

I started teaching more about email (and sharing my experiences as an email newsletter writer).

What’s even more interesting is when I launched my writing mentorship program, my first three students all wanted to learn about writing emails over any other type of writing.

That’s the power of leveraging zero party data. beehiiv’s one-click polls made it easier than ever for me to quickly gain feedback from my audience on the type of content they wanted to consume.

3. Audience Segmentation

Zero-party data enables you to have a clear picture of your customers and identify segments better than a generic market study.

The zero-party data approach allows a high level of customization and control over the process of knowing your customers. You get to ask for all of the information you want (i.e., their preferences, interests, pain points, etc.).

With detailed and accurate customer segments, your subscriber nurturing and conversion process will be much more effective.

4. Marketing Attribution

Marketing attribution is the process of determining which marketing channel has led people to finding your brand and converting into a customer. This enables you to identify the most successful marketing tactics for your business and improve your marketing campaigns.

With a zero-party data approach, this process becomes much easier since you have access to more data points (and more accurate information).

There are many other ways to leverage zero-part data depending on your business size, industry, goals, etc. You can use it almost in every aspect of your marketing and sales to achieve better results.

Zero Party Data: Key Action Points

Here’s a quick recap on how you can get started with zero party data today:

  • Start collecting zero-party data as soon as possible.

  • Use advanced email newsletter software with built-in, zero-party data capture features.

  • Create multiple sign-up forms to capture zero-party data.

  • Implement polls in your newsletter.

  • Spend time in your email software analyzing subscriber interests, behaviors, and demographics.

  • Focus on email list growth to leverage zero party data.

  • Leverage third-party data while you can to grow your email list (before Q3 2024).

  • Create multi-step opt-in forms to gather intel on your new subscribers.

  • Pay attention to the newsletters your subscribers engage with the most

  • Make A/B testing part of weekly routine to better understand what your subscribers like.

  • Focus on improving trust through BIMI and email domain warm-ups.

With third-party cookies soon gone, it’s never been more important for brands to dive deeper into their email newsletter strategy.


Email newsletters create a bridge to your customers greater than any other type of marketing. Investing in this direct line to your audience will allow you to collect data from them to improve your operations.

In many cases, the greater trust and connection you build with your subscribers via an email newsletter, the more willing they’ll be to help you out by showing you more of who they are via surveys, polls, email replies, and more.

Just remember, the foundation of any successful brand is a trust and value-based relationship with the right audience.

Zero-party data is a powerful approach that helps you achieve that — and you can leverage it to provide high-value newsletters your audience loves.

If you’re ready to start leveraging zero party data in your email strategy, then get started with beehiiv today.

Built by the same team who launched and grew Morning Brew to over one million subscribers, beehiiv is the newsletter platform for growth.

We have helped tens of thousands of businesses and newsletter operators build their newsletters and optimize that process using first party data in our all-in-one platform.

Get started with your free beehiiv account today!

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