Agentz Uses Conversations to Drive First-Party Data Collection

Privacy changes have left marketers scrambling to collect first-party data, or information directly gleaned from customers. With cross-website and cross-app tracking fading due to the end of the third-party cookie on Chrome and the downgrading of mobile identifiers, marketers need to establish the most comprehensive possible direct relationships with their audiences to figure out who they are and what they want.

Enter Agentz. The AI-powered customer engagement company helps businesses across more than 100 categories automatically respond to missed calls, texts, and website visits with the Agentz Automated Assistant. Of course, this helps businesses avoid losing leads and make sure they can get customers what they need faster, one imperative of the digital era. But now, Agentz’s software is paying data dividends.

“Someone’s calling you to book an appointment or to learn something,” said Charles Dyer, VP of sales and business development at Agentz. “They’re much more willing to give you their information.”

Dyer’s comments cut to the core of the first-party data conundrum: marketers can’t get consensual data if they do not offer something of value to customers in exchange. But with Agentz, businesses can be sure to add customers and leads to their database when they are seeking the core value that the business provides. That could turn thousands or even millions of lost leads at scale into registered users. (Agentz serves franchises and SMBs, largely via fellow tech companies and agencies.)

“Now we’ve got a lightweight CRM or you have your own CRM,” Dyer said. “You have all these leads for a campaign. Agencies can’t measure missed calls. We help them enable that by shooting back an SMS.”

Agentz is also helping marketers take advantage of the QR code craze enhanced by COVID and captured by campaigns like Coinbase’s viral Super Bowl bouncing multi-colored QR code. By placing QR codes in digital ads, OOH placements, and, in the case of some brick-and-mortars, on their own goods (like restaurants do on menus), businesses gain another way to kick-start a conversation with their customers and learn who they are. That could be a boon to business and customer — if the data is held, used, and shared properly.

The big picture of first-party and zero-party data

Tools like Agentz help businesses foster more efficient conversations with customers and capture their data. But of course, they are not a panacea for the privacy era because the driving force of privacy changes is to get clear and comprehensive consumer consent for everything businesses do with data.

In practice, that means not just having conversations with customers and recording their information. It means asking them for permission to record that information and to do whatever else businesses want to do with it — retarget the customer with ads or share the information with third parties, to name two common examples. Businesses can collect first-party data and still misuse it.

Zero-party data tries to build on the promise of first-party data by emphasizing not just getting information directly from the customer but getting information the customer has proactively and consciously provided. But this is where lines get blurred. For example, surveys and conversations are often considered zero-party data. But what if the customer thinks they’re just having a conversation to get a service, not providing data the business can store long term and use for other purposes?

Organizations can stay above board by not just using services like Agentz but clarifying — whenever and wherever they interact with consumers — whether they’re collecting data and getting the customer’s permission to do so. The challenge is that getting that permission and providing the customer long-term control is logistically tricky. Until martech comes up with a solution, the promise of the privacy era will remain at least partially unfulfilled.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015 and regularly consults with companies in the space on content and communications. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.