You've seen the headlines or experienced them first-hand: consumers are deleting cookies, browsers are blocking third-party cookies, and laws like the GDPR and CCPA are limiting what marketers can do with data.
When it comes to data strategy, cookie's days are numbered. This shift leads to a very different future for marketing teams, who are now forced to rethink the collection and use of data to make better business decisions and deliver more relevant experiences for their customers without third-party tracking.
This new era of privacy means companies must make significant adjustments if they want to harness their users' data.
The changes will be complex, but there's a lot we can do to be proactive and make the most of the changes ahead. Here's a brief overview of what the lack of cookies will mean for marketing and what we can do about it.
What does "no cookies" mean for marketers and CX designers?
- Less information available: With less data being recorded across websites, marketing, CX, and martech brands have less information about their users, and traditional techniques for targeting ads will be difficult to apply.
- Adjustments in marketing tools: With the lack of third-party tracking, marketing tools will need to adjust their data-collection methods.
- Brands will need to track their own users' data: Brands will need to develop their own means to track user data and create personalized solutions based on their tendencies. But as more users become reluctant to give up information, brands will need to offer services that compensate for the exchange of personal data.
This shift in the use of data will make first-party solutions more critical than ever, making them the goldmine brands will need to harness to provide a complete view of their consumer base.
Using first-party solutions for the cookie-less world
1. Be transparent.
Let your customers know about your data-collection plans and how you'll use them to provide a better service.
Let's say that you create a program that reduces shipping costs for specific locations; when asking for the zip code, let customers know when they have a discount available. That way, when a customer shares information with you, they are receiving direct value in return.
Acquiring first-party data is a value exchange; the customer provides the data, and you harness it to make a more personalized experience across touchpoints.
2. Build your customers' profile slowly
Start with simple requests like an email address to receive information about what they want to hear about and what they want to share. Gradually, ask for more information. Many customers will be willing to give it if they feel like what they share contributes to their experience.
3. Ask about your customers' preferences.
Ask your customers what they are willing to share and use the information to tune their experience. Sometimes inferring needs and preferences based on past behavior must be out to the side, and directly asking your customers is the way to go.
4. Harness loyalty programs.
Loyalty programs provide access to valuable preferences and purchase histories. Introducing or expanding loyalty programs can make customers feel like the information they share is being directly used to improve their service.
5. Involve your executive leaders
Board leaders need to be involved in the conversation. Strategic goals should be set across the organization to measure the risks and rewards of transitioning away from third-party tracking, and solutions need to come from the higher leadership.
6. Design a consistent data governance plan
With privacy being a primary concern for users, customer data storage, availability, and sharing must be handled carefully. Designing a consistent data governance plan will help structure all matters related to using customer data across all the organization's systems and offices.
What are the keys to a good data governance plan?
- Establish very early on what the organization can do with first-party data.
- Define what level of access each team role would need.
- Determine the legal boundaries of your operations.
- Create data handling protocols that apply to the entire organization.
During this process, it's essential to make your data available and actionable via Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). CDPs are specifically designed to help marketers generate more personalized advertising and communications at scale. They have become a cost-effective way to unify data from multiple sources and create a single customer profile across all touchpoints.
The opportunity for leveraging a CDP stack could dramatically improve your marketing efforts, as well as your ability to both personalize and measure user-level data across all digital channels.
As an Adobe Solutions Partner, we use Adobe Real-Time CDP as our core technological tool to build customized and meaningful data-driven CX solutions. Having such a tool available will make your data governance plan more consistent and enforceable over multiple systems and locations.
7. Aim for a consistent experience across channels
First-party data will become the source of everything we need to know about our customers. We need to use it to understand them and provide a personalized omnichannel experience based on this understanding.
These are only a few of the strategies marketers are using right now. Over time, new techniques will be developed, and the transition towards a cookie-less world will be smoother.
Right now, the priority is realizing that data collection as we know it has changed, and we need to change alongside it. Leveraging first-party is not a new practice, but brands need to take it to the next level if they hope to compete in the future.