5 steps for succeeding in a cookieless future

by | Oct 12, 2021

Third-party cookies are a staple in a marketer’s arsenal and have been for decades. So, now that they are soon to be fully eliminated, marketing teams are panicking. Are we truly ready for a future without this key source of third-party data? 

While some companies have started to plan for a cookieless future, most still don’t have a baseline understanding of how their business will be affected — much less how to roll out a strategy to operate in this new world.

It’s an important problem to solve for. And not all solutions are created equal.

What marketers choose to invest in now could make or break their marketing campaigns for years to come.

Why are third-party cookies being deprecated?

The reality is that this has been a long time coming — Mozilla started phasing out third-party cookies in 2013. But now, Google is expected to phase out this online tracking tool in 2023, and Apple has moved their mobile device ID (the Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA) to opt-in only.

Data privacy is a growing concern for consumers, and businesses must keep up. As consumer data gets collected and passed around between countless third parties, there are benefits to targeted marketing, but there are also more possibilities for harmful data breaches. And with multiple pro-privacy laws coming to fruition in the U.S. — such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and similar laws in Colorado and Virginia — organizations are being held more accountable for the data they own and use.

Those who prepare for the change will stand out from the crowd by delivering relevant, timely, and insightful customer experiences compared to the one-size-fits-all experiences of the competition. Those who haven’t prepared will need to build that strategy quickly, all in an environment where there’s no clear replacement and simply less data available.

5 steps for succeeding in a cookieless future

Here are five steps to make sure you can still create a personalized customer experience without the use of third-party cookies.

1. Leverage the first-party data you already have

First-party data is often your best source for accurate and specific consumer information. Increasing first-party data has been a priority for marketers for years. According to a 2018 study, 85% of U.S. marketers said that increasing their first-party data is a high priority. And if you think about it, you’re probably already collecting data on your customers with different tools (e.g., email, social, etc).

But there are better ways you can leverage first-party data. For example, look at your CRM and sales tools. When utilized correctly, you can evaluate customer data based on interaction reports, performance metrics, conversion rates, etc.

Now is the time to look at the tools your company is already using and leverage them to reach the right audience with the right content.

2. Personalize customer experiences with declared data

Declared data, a type of first-party data, is one of the richest sources of customer information you can get. This is the data a customer gives you themselves in one-on-one interactions. This is the most accurate information about their desires and demographics.

As Forbes explains, consumers are happy to share their information to get a more personalized experience. So don’t be afraid to ask for your customer data when it makes sense — it will be more important to have this declared data than it ever has been before.  

3. Utilize email marketing

Although email marketing may not be new, it can still deliver ROIs of over 4,000%. It is a great channel for driving sales, nurturing relationships, and understanding your customers. Most importantly, it allows you to collect customer data through opt-ins — and then that data can be segmented by location, company size, position, etc.   

You can deliver unique offers and messages to each group for the best response. Businesses can use tools like HubSpot to build lists, segment communications, and create automated journeys.  

Email will become the go-to first-party data targeting solution as third-party cookies are being phased out. Your business can market to customers when they’ve left a website and utilize this information to create more customized messaging and experiences. 

In addition, you can utilize email lists within advertising platforms like Google Ads where subscribers can be retargeted and brought back to convert. A lot of what third-party cookies provided can be achieved with proper email marketing. 

4. Examine your partnerships for customer data exchanges

You may be thinking about how you are handling third-party data, but how are your vendors preparing for the change?  

By leveraging the right technology, companies can safely and securely discover overlapping customers without exposing personal identifiable information (PII) or breaking data privacy laws. These insights alone can help you quickly assess the untapped potential of a collaboration.  

Now is the time to work with partners to begin exploring the safe exchange of data for the benefit of both parties.

5. Overhaul your data management strategy

This is a great opportunity to change the way you manage and leverage your customer data to develop targeting, execution, direct marketing, and customized experiences. This does require effort and investment from your organization (e.g., investing in a quality consumer data platform (CDP) or a great CRM system). Ultimately, your investment results in better control, a more customized experience, and a greater ROI.  

While CDPs and CRMs offer two different marketing and sales data management solutions with differing strengths, you don’t necessarily have to choose between them. It’s possible to use a CRM as an input and output channel to a CDP. And, in turn, use a CDP to provide a 360° customer view data set within the CRM. 

Choosing both a CDP and a CRM can deliver an amazing customer experience and tremendous business value: achieving high marks in customer satisfaction and providing integrated tracking and engagement. Learn more about the differences between a CDP and CRM, and what could work best for your organization.  

By making the investment now in a new and improved data strategy, you can set yourself up for success in a world without third-party cookies.  

Looking forward to the cookieless future

The elimination of third-party cookies will fundamentally change digital marketing as we know it. But it also presents an opportunity to move away from an old standard and push your online marketing into the future.

By maintaining a solid understanding of all the forces at play and updating your strategies to prepare for the transition, you can set your organization up for success and keep you ahead of your competition. Start now with our risk assessment workshop.

Ready to see how this change is going to impact your organization? Register for our upcoming webinar, “Does cookie deprecation affect me? And 5 other key questions to ask before it’s too late.”

About the author

John Wood
Solution Director, Digital Marketing Strategy & Analytics

John Wood is Fusion’s Digital Marketing and Analytics Solution Director and has extensive experience creating successful digital solutions for internal and external clients across a diverse landscape, including B2B and B2C markets. With a background in business analytics, he specializes in translating client goals and objectives into actionable, outcome-based, digital marketing programs.

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