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First-party data: everything you need to know

First-party data: everything you need to know | Edgar Allan

No matter how you slice it, data fuels modern businesses. And the icing on that particular cake is first-party data. It’s super valuable, highly sought-after, and, unfortunately, easily taken advantage of. 

But what exactly is first-party data and why is it so important? Let’s dive into all the details you need to know, along with how Edgar Allan’s new Webflow toolkit, Wes, can help enterprises across the board protect their first-party data.

What is first-party data?

First-party data is the information companies collect directly from their customers or users, obtained through website visits, purchases, app usage, surveys, and customer service interactions. Unlike third-party data, which is acquired from external sources, first-party data is owned and controlled by the business itself.

What is first-party data used for? 

There are a bunch of ways in which companies use first-party data across various functions and initiatives. 

Companies primarily leverage first-party data to gain deep insights into customers' behaviors, preferences, and needs. They then analyze this data and use their findings to create marketing campaigns tailored to individual customer segments, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates. 

Another area where first-party data comes in super handy is in content, product, and service creation. By using the data they collect, companies can build strategies around customer interests and past interactions to deliver relevant content, products, and services, improving customer experience.

Who deals with first-party data?

From e-commerce and retail to healthcare and financial services, businesses across a wide variety of sectors use first-party data to understand customer needs, predict behavior patterns, and drive business growth. It helps them tailor marketing experiences, create personalized digital experiences, and improve their overall customer retention by driving loyalty. 

Why does first-party data need to be protected?

There are a bunch of reasons why protecting first-party data is super important, but here are two of the biggies: 

  1. It contains sensitive information about customers, including their personal details and purchasing habits, which, if compromised, can lead to reputational damage and legal repercussions. 
  2. Regulatory requirements like GDPR and CCPA mandate businesses to safeguard customer data and uphold privacy rights, with repercussions for noncompliance ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. 

What are some examples of first-party data protection strategies? 

Sadly, there isn’t just one all-encompassing first-party data strategy that’ll solve all your problems. Rather, it’s an amalgamation of processes, strategies, and technologies businesses must leverage to safeguard their first-party data effectively. 

Here are some examples: 

  • Data encryption: 

Any sensitive data, whether at rest or in transit, should be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access and maintain confidentiality. An online store encrypting credit card details and transactional data could be an example of this.

Encrypting this data ensures that even if unauthorized individuals gain access to it, they can’t decipher it without the encryption key, maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information.

  • Access control:

Who can access and manipulate sensitive data within your business can (and should) be strictly controlled and monitored. Using solutions like role-based access control (RBAC), for example, is one way to make sure that no one has access to anything they shouldn’t. 

A solution we’ve got first-hand experience with involves using Wes, its SSO functionality, and server-side authentication to create a secure brand portal for venture capital firms. This provides their founders a safe space to access and keep track of their portfolio companies.

  • Data masking:

These techniques are used to anonymize or mask certain data elements to protect customer identities while allowing data analysis. 

For example, if you’re an e-commerce business, you can mask customer names and addresses in your analytics reports. This allows you to gain insights into purchasing patterns and trends while maintaining your customers’ privacy. 

  • Audits:

Conducting regular security assessments to identify vulnerabilities and compliance gaps in your first-party data protection strategy and practices is critical. 

Let’s say you’re a tech company. By conducting penetration testing and vulnerability scans on your network infrastructure, you can detect and mitigate potential security risks. These audits help strengthen security measures and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

  • Training:

Educating staff members about data security protocols and best practices for handling customer information is imperative.

Any company that handles data should conduct regular cybersecurity training sessions for its employees to raise awareness about phishing scams, password hygiene, and secure handling of customer data. By empowering your employees with knowledge and skills, you can reduce the likelihood of human error and insider threats that may put your first-party data at risk.

What are some ways that first-party data can be mishandled? 

Failure to protect first-party data can result in data breaches, unauthorized access, and loss of customer trust. Very ugly business indeed. These risks underscore the importance of implementing data protection strategies and fostering a culture of data privacy within any business.

But, despite how important data protection is, incidents that lead to data breaches and privacy lapses happen. Some examples include: 

  • Data leaks: Accidentally exposing or leaking sensitive customer data because of inadequate security controls or misconfigured systems.
  • Unauthorized access: Employees or external entities gain unauthorized access to first-party data through phishing attacks, insider threats, or weak authentication mechanisms.
  • Non-compliance: Failing to comply with data protection regulations like GDPR, CCPA, or HIPAA, resulting in legal consequences and hefty fines.
  • Data retention issues: Keeping customer data beyond a mandated time frame or without consent can lead to privacy and compliance violations.

How can Wes help? 

Wes is a Webflow Enterprise product Edgar Allan created to simplify the process of achieving data residency and GDPR compliance. 

It gives businesses operating in highly regulated industries a way to take advantage of the flexibility, versatility, and easy update-ability (among other things) of building in Webflow without sacrificing security protocols, government mandates for data privacy, or the requirements for first-party data. 

Use Wes to publish your website to a secure server of your choosing, whether that’s hosted by AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Webflow. In addition, Wes integrates with Octa and Auth0, providing server-side authentication and bolstering security. 

As public, corporate, and governmental demand for data privacy and security continue to increase, the demands on your digital teams aren’t slowing down. Simplify process, make updates and scale your digital presence with Webflow, and add Wes to deploy anywhere your IT department desires. 

Visit Wes for more information, including pricing, integrations, and benefits.

Looking for a more ownable, easy-to-use platform to host your company’s website — and the security, compliance, and deployment process you need? Let’s talk

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