Customer Data Strategy

Future-proof your customer data strategy

Building your roadmap for a cookieless world

The data privacy landscape is changing. As companies consider rapidly shifting standards for consumer data, the impact of losing third-party cookies and other common identifiers extends beyond marketing departments and across the business.

Brands that prepare for the change will stand out. As your competition makes do with one-size-fits-all experiences, your company can differentiate with relevant and insightful customer experiences. But the work starts now.

You need a future-proof customer data strategy

Google’s third-party cookie stay of execution buys you critical time to build and test an intentional — and flexible — customer data strategy. Brands that shift to first-party data sources start reaping benefits right away — including up to 2.9x revenue uplift and a 1.5x increase in cost savings.

By investing the time now to assess your risk, define your internal data needs, and create a purpose-built first-party data solution, your company can emerge from the cookiepocalypse stronger than before.

[On-Demand] How cookie deprecation will impact 2022

Why your first-party data roadmap needs to start today

Our 30-minute session outlines five key questions to answer as you plan for the year ahead.

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6 steps to transform your post-cookie customer data strategy

Google plans to phase out third-party cookies for good in 2023. Between now and then, your business needs to take six key actions (along with whatever curveballs appear along the way):

We’ll walk through each point, and help you take the first step toward building your roadmap to a future-proof customer data strategy.

1. Reframe your current marketing economics

    Third-party cookie deprecation challenges several long-established marketing tactics, including:

    • Personalization: Relying on behavioral and browsing data to serve users personalized experiences
    • Campaign management: Managing the frequency and consistency at which users see their ad creative
    • Retargeting: Retargeting visitors based on search and recent browsing activity
    • Measurement & attribution: Reducing reliability and accuracy of measurement and attribution models

    Moreover, for companies that rely on traditional customer data strategies, the loss of cookies could affect other departments beyond marketing.

    Potential impacts to your business include:

    • Decreased revenue
    • Reduced operational efficiency
    • Increased marketing costs
    • Need for technology upgrade or replacement
    • Loss of marketing performance visibility
    • Lost data about unknown site visitors
    • Lost data about known customers
    • Liability due to lack of compliance

    These considerations add essential context to the conversation, particularly for leadership, and can help your company prioritize time and resources for future-proofing your customer data strategy.

    2. Reassess your customer data risk

    To prepare for a world without third-party cookie data, you need to know where you stand. A current state risk assessment can help you discover how your company uses third-party data now, including where it’s collected and the processes that leverage those indicators.

    Here are a few points to keep in mind as you prepare for your risk assessment:

    • Map data to KPIs. Which data provide insights that drive business decisions? Will losing that data point represent a key risk? How much value does the information add to the decision point?
    • Don’t forget the first-party data you already have. How do you already collect information directly from your customers?
    • Note gaps and opportunities. How could you pivot toward accurate and meaningful data from first- or second-party sources to meet critical KPIs, instead of relying on today’s third-party sources?

    Understanding the role of third-party data across your business can help you choose how best to replace that information with first- or second-party sources and give you a starting point for your new customer data strategy. Highly targeted, accurate, and relevant customer profiles can protect your sales and marketing efforts from further industry disruption.

    3. Redesign your data infrastructure

    Your risk assessment baseline positions you to move proactively toward a data infrastructure that meets your business goals and enhances customer experience.

    Your redesign includes several key elements:

    • Amplify first-party data: Identify key data you need to replace with first-party sources, and brainstorm ways to collect it. Make a plan to build customer trust, so that users feel comfortable sharing their data with your company. Map out ways to add real value when information is exchanged, and use clear, transparent language to explain how the data you collect is used to improve the customer’s experience.
    • Explore walled gardens: Research and test second-party data strategies within larger customer ecosystems like Amazon, Facebook, and Walmart.
    • Evaluate new solutions: Invest in small experiments with new wave targeting like cohorts and universal IDs to discover if those solutions are a good fit for your brand.
    • Document proof of concept: After you’ve narrowed down the replacement IDs you want to prioritize, run controlled pilot projects and document the proof of concept for each as part of preparing your new customer data strategy for leadership buy-in.

    Redesigning your data infrastructure and testing toward implementation both need ample space in your roadmap. Depending on your needs, you may want to consider bringing in outside experts to help you with data architecture and project management.

    4. Rethink your tech stack

    As your customer data strategy shifts, you may find that your tech stack needs some adjustments as well. Investing in an optimized martech architecture gives you better control of your information, the ability to customize user experiences, and a greater return on your investment.

    As part of your evaluation, you’ll want to ask questions like:

    • Is your technology stack optimized to get the most out of your first party data?
    • Are you able to both collect and compile the information, as well as leverage it to its full extent?
    • Are your current tools keeping up with new data requirements and the replacement IDs you plan to use going forward?
    • Does your technology support safe and secure partnership with your vendors and partners? Can you discover overlapping customer insights without exposing personal identifiable information (PII) or breaking data privacy laws?

    When rethinking your tech stack in light of significant customer data strategy changes, your existing investment in a particular platform or solution should certainly carry weight. However, depending on the extent of upgrades and changes required, be aware that those costs might neutralize the perceived savings of maintaining the status quo. A tech-agnostic outside view may prove helpful if your organization is struggling to define the costs and benefits of a major change.

    5. Refine your security

    Your new customer data strategy won’t only impact your marketing team. The more data you bring in-house, the more you’ll need a comprehensive governance and security model to guarantee compliance and maintain consumer trust.

    Good data governance and security practices align technology, operations, and oversight to ensure data quality, privacy, and retrievability. Depending on your starting point, a comprehensive solution may take time to implement. Be sure to build adequate space — and expertise — for data security and governance into your roadmap.

    Who should play a role in data governance?

    Roughly 70% of organizations have a designated data security role, but a shift to a first-party data tactics may require a larger team, greater cooperation with other business units, or more executive support to ensure success and avoid costly data breaches.

    As you evaluate your own data processes for blind spots, don’t forget your vendors and partners. Make sure they’re equipped to pivot with you, because their data practices impact your exposure and risk, too.

    Now is the time to work with your internal and external teams to explore safe collection, storage, and exchange of data so you can maximize your impact while minimizing risk.

    6. Realign your customer data strategy

    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 long it may take to roll out a strategy to operate in this new world.

    Several factors can add to the timeline as you build your roadmap:

    • Conducting a comprehensive data audit
    • Sourcing first-party data
    • Proving concepts for proposed replacement IDs
    • Evaluating and implementing new technologies or functionality
    • Gaining organizational and leadership buy-in

    To get ahead of the curve, we recommend that you get started now aligning your internal teams and preparing your organization for the change to your customer data strategy.

    Timeline

    • Assess your risk by Q4 2021
    • Develop a first-party data strategy by Q1 2022
    • Gain organizational buy-in and budget by Q2 2022
    • Implement and execute the strategy during Q3
    • Measure and adjust before the end of 2023

    Take the first step

    Fusion Alliance helps companies navigate changing data privacy environments with a unique methodology that fosters collaboration, transparency, and shared ownership of digital transformations.

    Our two-week Third-Party Data Risk Assessment brings together your marketing, data, and technology stakeholders. We help you unpack the processes and partnerships that put your organization at highest risk, so you can take the right steps toward a post-third-party customer data strategy. 

    Tailored directly to your organization’s goals and priorities, the workshop leads to three key deliverables to kickstart your transformation:

    • A Third-Party Data Map: An illustrated visualization of the teams, processes, and technologies impacted by the loss of third-party data.
    • A Risk Scorecard: A quantified evaluation of monetary risk, process impact, data security, and business-specific factors.
    • A 2023 Readiness Roadmap: An overall approach and concrete steps to get your business ready for the end of third-party data.

    Now is the time to position your business for success in the cookie-free future.

    Meet the experts

    Amy Brown

    Amy Brown 

    Digital Solution Director

    As a Digital Solutions Director at Fusion Alliance, Amy Brown helps clients craft experiences that make brands and customers more valuable to one another. She excels at bridging the technical to the practical and has worked with Fortune 100 clients on highly complex projects within and around the martech space.

    Adam Towvin

    Adam Towvim 

    Marketing & Data Privacy Expert

    Adam serves as an advisor on the Future of Privacy Forum and Adjunct Professor at Brandeis Business School. As an invited speaker for top industry conferences on Big Data, digital media, and data privacy, he has over 25 years of experience working with consumer data analytics, marketing, and privacy issues for some of the world’s fastest-growing marketers, retailers, and media companies.

    Saj Patel

    Sajid Patel 

    Vice President Data Practice

    Saj leads Fusion’s Data Practice, including Strategic Data Management, BI & Analytics, and Data Integration & Architecture. A core part of his focus is to help clients develop data strategies and roadmaps aligned around their initiatives and then provide services to lead them through incremental delivery of value using modern data technologies.