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How Zero-Party Data Can Turn Key Professionals into Influencers

One of retail marketers’ biggest challenges is driving repeat purchases. As third-party cookies continue to phase out, brands are cultivating customer loyalty by leveraging zero-party data. But first, they need to collect it.  

Customers will give a brand zero-party data if they receive something of value in return. And one of the most effective ways to create this reciprocal exchange is to provide an exclusive discount to professionals that align with a brand’s offerings and mission.

Audience Verification for Marketers

Leading brands are turning to SheerID to implement special offers for professionals that would make great brand influencers. SheerID’s Verification Platform digitally verifies that a customer belongs to the targeted group and is eligible for the offer. Verification occurs instantly as a seamless step in the checkout process, which expedites the exchange and increases conversions. 

Helly Hansen, the premier outdoor apparel company, has been a leader in using Pro discount programs to collect and leverage zero-party data. SheerID CEO and co-founder Jake Weatherly recently sat down with Elizabeth Rudkin, Helly Hansen’s Global eCommerce Pro Business Manager, to discuss how her team uses digitally verified professional offers to build brand loyalty. Excerpts from their conversation below have been edited for length and clarity.

Jake Weatherly:

Helly Hansen is a leader in engaging key professionals. Can you tell us about the groups you’re targeting, and why?

Elizabeth Rudkin:

Helly Hansen is renowned for outfitting professionals on the slopes. We target these professionals—everyone from ski instructors and ski patrol to professional athletes—because they have the greatest impact on purchasing trends as brand influencers. They trust our brand and the word of mouth they generate is highly valuable. And our programs give us valuable data about them that we can use to engage them more deeply and to drive greater conversion rates, brand loyalty, and customer lifetime value.

Jake Weatherly:

Your industry was one of the first adopters of zero-party data and Pro programs, where you invite people to develop relationships with a brand. Why did you enter this space early?

Elizabeth Rudkin:

The outdoor apparel and hard goods brands developed some of the first loyalty programs because we saw the value in connecting with these specialized segments and facilitating a personal relationship between pros and brands. 

At Helly Hansen, professionals become “members” and can access discounts. When they’re happy with the products they’re using, they speak on behalf of the brand. Their outreach becomes exponential. 

Pro customers also bring information back and reinvest in the brand through product feedback forums and surveys. Giving Pro customers a platform like this drives our growth. They share what they’re looking for and crave from a brand, which deepens their personal connection to the company and brings them back.

Jake Weatherly:

How do you design an offer that provides a compelling discount but is still profitable?

Elizabeth Rudkin:

When you look at the exchange from that perspective, discounts and profits seem counterintuitive. But at the end of the day, driving customer acquisition isn’t our only goal. We also want our campaigns to engage customers and build relationships. 

Pro customers who are loyal to the brand spend exponentially more money with us than other segments do. They also offer tremendous customer lifetime value. The payoff over time is huge and worth the upfront discount.

Jake Weatherly:

Can you give us an example of a campaign you ran with SheerID and the impact it had?

Elizabeth Rudkin:

Before COVID, Helly Hansen’s customer acquisition came organically through professional services partnerships. But during the pandemic, we launched social campaigns with offers for healthcare professionals, first responders, and the military, and the response was overwhelming. It brought more new customers than we could sustain. 

As a result, we encountered bottlenecks when it came to vetting those applications for approval. We eventually had to shut down social media, LinkedIn, and affiliate marketing campaigns last year because we couldn’t keep up with incoming volume.

SheerID is a foundation that’s now built into those campaigns, which is absolutely critical to success. Using SheerID for verification services helps us ensure a high quality of service and customer care.

Jake Weatherly:

How are you using the zero- and first-party data you collect?

Elizabeth Rudkin:

We’re primarily using this data to re-engage customers through targeted campaigns. This includes email communications, such as expiration and renewal programs, which require care and thoughtfulness to get right. But this investment is key. We want to clearly communicate our intentions with customers.

All of the data that our customers provide is highly relevant, and we focus on using it in effective ways. As a global brand, geolocation data is imperative for every decision we make. It drives every campaign and communications program we create.

Want to Turn Key Customers into Brand Influencers?

Sign up for a free consultation with one of our marketing experts and see firsthand how SheerID can help engage the professionals who align with your brand.