Over the last fifteen years, personalized marketing has been built on stalking consumers. Third-party cookies, third-party lists, and third-party data were the norm—even though we marketers knew this unverified information was imperfect and intrusive.
Today, the landscape of data collection for personalization in marketing is shifting quickly. Thanks to increasing regulatory scrutiny and a long-overdue focus on building trust with our customers, stalking is out. Self-attested data is in.
For ASICS, this shift is old news. For more than 70 years, the global athletic brand has focused on celebrating the identity of every customer—from first-time runners to lifelong athletes. And since 2017, the ASICS’ omnichannel team has been building an impressive program of personalized marketing that significantly drives customer acquisition and lifetime value.
Recently, Sai Koppala, SheerID’s chief marketing officer, sat down with Sean Condon, ASICS’ vice-president of omnichannel, to discuss how the brand brings identity-based marketing to life. Below are key takeaways from their conversation.
A Seismic Shift in Personalization is Underway
Privacy concerns are driving brands to reimagine personalized marketing. Tech platforms like Google and Apple are phasing out cookies and device identifiers, ushering in a “cookieless future”.
In response, marketing organizations are adopting new strategies to reach consumers. The CMO Club recently surveyed chief marketing officers across industries, and the report it published—The Quest for Consumer Trust—revealed that:
- 84% of CMOs consider it highly important to move away from third-party data sources due to privacy concerns.
- More than 73% of CMOs are increasing their investment in consumer-focused content and community programs.
- 80% of CMOs are investing more in earned media.
In order to adapt, many brands are responding by investing in zero-party data.
Zero-Party Data is the New Keystone for Personalization
Zero-party data is personal information that a consumer chooses to willingly provide, usually to receive a benefit from the company. It’s the most powerful data a brand can collect because it:
- Is self-attested and verified.
- Signals high consumer intent.
- Reflects a reciprocal exchange of value, which drives results.
For ASICS, collecting and using zero-party data has been a highly effective strategy for building consumer trust and driving meaningful business outcomes.
“Consumers are willing to provide personal data if a company is transparent with how it will use the data and provides consumers with a valuable experience in exchange for it,” Sean said.
How ASICS is Leading the Pack
In 2017, ASICS began developing its OneASICS customer loyalty program. This initiative was originally conceived to provide exclusive perks like free shipping to returning customers.
Over time, Sean and his team began incorporating the data they collected into the larger ASICS digital ecosystem and using it to expand the company’s personalized marketing efforts.
Today, that zero-party helps ASICS stand out from competitors and drive growth by:
- Powering its focus on building strong and enduring customer relationships.
- Providing a 360-degree view of customers across all direct-to-consumer channels and platforms.
- Enabling one-to-one content experiences for customers logged into the website or mobile app.
Sean says OneASICS has become the company’s primary vehicle for customer acquisition in personalization.
“OneASICS has turned into a way to use data that members have provided to deliver personalized experiences and offers,” said Sean.
Leveraging Data to Celebrate Customers’ Identities
Sean says ASICS delivers meaningful personalization by collecting and leveraging the following three kinds of data.
When customers are logged in or using their OneASICS loyalty account, the omnichannel team can collect purchase history data and use that information to present relevant content across every channel.
For example, OneASICS members who identify as male during the registration process and go on to purchase mostly male products will be fed content specific to their demographic.
In addition to their website, ASICS customers may use the ASICS Runkeeper app, the ASICS Studio app, or the race registration platform Race Roster. The omnichannel team can layer these behavioral data points into their personalization efforts.
For example, Sean described a scenario where that same male runner may browse tennis products, which prompts ASICS to cross-pollinate the runner’s experience with tennis content. And by adding in location data, ASICS can serve up cold-weather running content if the customer lives in the Northeast, while providing a similar customer in California a shopping experience that reflects his warmer weather.
ASICS also provides identity marketing offers to specific communities of customers based on their profession or affiliations, such as discounts for first responders or members of the military.
By digitally verifying these customers with SheerID’s Identity Marketing Platform, ASICS makes it easy for shoppers to self-identify as members of the targeted community and redeem their discount.
This valuable, self-attested data allows ASICS to not only further personalize experiences and build trust, but reach new customers. Sean reports the return on investment for ASICS’ identity marketing program is in the quadruple digits.
“We’ve definitely had a lot of new customers join our OneASICS program through our SheerID program because they weren’t aware of the special offer,” said Sean. “But we’ve also seen a lot of customers who are part of the program just using it more. They recognize the program’s value and benefits, and they leverage the exclusive discounts on certain purchases.”
Setting and Tracking the Right KPIs
Sean said ASICS measures the success of OneASICS across a few key performance indicators (KPIs).
ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)
Sean and his team look at OneASICS membership growth over time, and have seen consistent double-digit growth month over month.
Percent of Total Purchases
When OneASICS began, loyalty members accounted for less than 10% of all ASICS purchases. Now, that number is over 50%.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Sean reports that the lifetime value of OneASICS members is “significantly higher” compared to non-members.
The ASICS team has begun to incorporate customer experience metrics, such as CSAT, NPS, or focus groups, into the program’s KPIs.
3 Tips for Collecting and Leveraging Zero-Party Data
Sean offers the following advice to marketers who want to invest in zero-party data and identity marketing.
1. Scale with Digital Verification
ASICS’ first incarnation of its identity marketing program used manual verification, which led to a backlog of 70,000 requests. SheerID helped the company scale its program, enabling ASICS to:
- Protect the offer from discount abuse while saving hundreds of hours of manual labor every week.
- Ensure the exclusivity of the offer—making it more appealing.
- Driving a 100% lift in conversions.
2. Be Patient and Flexible
Sean advises marketers to set realistic expectations, goals, and timelines.
“Identity-based marketing isn’t something that happens overnight,” he said. “I think a lot of companies rush it. They think it’s a silver bullet that will solve all their problems, but ultimately it takes time. It takes testing. It takes a lot of patience, and it also takes the willpower to continually evolve as regulations and consumer expectations evolve.”
3. Listen and Respond to Customers
“Never stop seeking feedback from your customers,” Sean said. “Whether it’s through focus groups, surveys, or our customer service team, we’re always listening and learning from our customers to hear what they want so we can continue to evolve the program to be what they want, because ultimately the better that we can service them through this program, the more they’re going to be engaged with OneASICS, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.”
Are You Ready for a Cookieless Future?
Book a meeting with us to see how identity marketing can help you gather and use zero-party data to optimize your customer acquisition and loyalty programs.