Data capture for publishers: what is it and why is it so important to your bottom line?

To adapt to a constantly evolving digital publishing landscape, publishers need to embrace the power of data capture now more than ever. Understanding the importance of data is critical to maintaining high rates of conversionmaximizing customer lifetime value and retention, and optimizing customer experience with your content. It’s clear that in this digital age, audience data is an invaluable asset that can seriously strengthen your content, digital marketing, and business strategies.
In this article, we walk you through all the key aspects of data capture, equipping you with the essential grounding to harness the power of data for yourself.

What is data capture?

Put simply, data capture is the collection of information on readers, customers, and website visitors. This data is then used for marketing and business development purposes.
There are three main types of data: first, second and third-party data. In short, First-party data is information you collect directly from your readers. Second-party data is information that is shared between businesses, and third party data is information that is collected by, and then purchased from, a third party.
If you need to brush up on your publishing terminology, download ​​The Ultimate Digital Publishing and Media Glossary.
With the phase-out of third-party cookies coming in 2022, the value of first-party data has increased. First-party data is either collected directly from user activity on your site or intentionally given to you by the user themselves (this is also called ‘zero-party data’).

What are the advantages of collecting first-party data?

The value of first-party data arises from its inherent accuracy, the mutual benefit for you and your customers, and the fact that you own it. 
Since you collect first-party data directly from the user, there is no third-party involvement.
Effective first-party data capture relies on a value exchange of some sort. This is where you offer something in return for an individual’s data e.g. access to exclusive content. This makes your audience feel as though they too benefit from sharing their information. And in turn, helps to build a transparent and trusting relationship with your audience.

Why collecting first-party data is vital for publishers?

Gain invaluable insight to optimise subscription experience

It pays to understand the power of data capture. You can gain unbeatable direct insight into your audience’s activity and interactions with your content. This will ultimately help shape your output and how you tailor user experiences. Collecting information on your audience is key to tailoring and personalising your content according to their interests. Bespoke experiences ensure each user is exposed to content that aligns with their individual interests, thus optimising their personal experience.

Build trust and loyalty in your audience

Data capture is not just a one-way transaction. It is also an effective mechanism for cultivating a relationship with your audience and serving them better.
Through the value-exchange element of the data capture process itself, you incentivise and reward your customers for sharing their information. So it’s a win-win. By empowering your audience with the option of when and how they share their data, you gain additional credibility. And the optimization of user experiences according to personal preferences or behaviours also nurtures their relationship with your business and content, resulting in extended and maximized lifetime value.

Secure Lucrative Advertising Deals

Effective advertising would not be possible without data on your target audience. you can’t appeal to potential customers without understanding them. Nor will you be able to obtain lucrative advertising deals if you don’t establish a loyal and captive audience base. Data on your readers makes advertising targeting more accurate, which also allows you to charge a higher premium for space on your site.

Develop competitive content

Data capture is also essential for staying ahead of the game. Understanding your users on a deeper level allows you to cater to their preferences. Knowing what they like to read, and when, means you can take the guesswork out of your editorial strategy. Harnessed correctly, data capture will ultimately allow you to develop content and products that your audience wants and will pay for. The knowledge you acquire about your audience is an invaluable asset that will give you a unique edge against your competitors, who may not yet have figured out the power of data capture.

How to build an effective data capture strategy

To effectively harness the power of data capture, publishers need to develop a robust and agile data strategy. Taking anonymous users through the basic data funnel is easier said than done. Here’s how to get started:

Understand your audience

You know your target audience best. Since there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for collecting data, you’ll need to reflect on what types of value exchanges and data capture methods will be appropriate for your specific readership. For example, will they actually be willing to pay for content behind a paywall?

Consolidate your data

In order to efficiently manage and consolidate your data, ensure to make use of both a data capture software and a data management platform (DMP). This will streamline your data management process and maximise the efficiency of analyses you carry out on the information you collect.

Create a fair value exchange

You need to ensure that your request for your audience’s data is bundled in a value-rich exchange. This means creating some kind of incentive or reward for imparting their information. Be sure to actually inform your audience about why this exchange is worthwhile.

Simplified user registration and progressive profiling

Simple is always better. As far as possible, try to minimize the barriers to entry within your data capture process. Also keep in mind that data capture should be a long-term strategy, that progressively profiles your audience over time by deploying a diverse range of data capture methods.

Harness user data to optimise their experience

How you analyze and activate the data you’ve collected is critical. Leverage the insights you gain to push certain users towards specific content, build and trial personalized subscription experiences, and don’t be disheartened if some are more successful than others. Remember that this data is dynamic, and should not be reserved for user experience, but should inform your overall content output and general business trajectory.

Are you ready to embrace data capture?

Data capture should be an integral part of any publisher’s digital strategy. If it isn’t already, what are you waiting for? Harnessing the power of data capture is essential for adapting to a constantly changing digital publishing space and staying ahead of the competition.
If you are interested in effective data capture, find out more about how we help businesses with their first-party data strategies!