Filling the third party cookie gap

Third party cookies are in the process of being phased out, so what can marketers do now to plug the gap?

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A recent survey by GetApp revealed that marketing experts have concerns regarding the repercussions of Google’s decision to stop using third party cookies, with 20% stating that it would have a negative effect on business. Additionally, 41% believed their biggest challenge would come from tracking the right data, followed by less accuracy in personalised advertising at 15%.

I’ve written a fair bit about third party cookies being phased out, but so far, I haven’t had much to say about how to plug the gap. However, as Sonia Navarrete, content analyst at GetApp UK explains, the focus needs to shift to making better use of first party and opted in data.

“With Google’s new cookie data policy, marketers need to be aware of the changes it will bring, how it will affect them and what strategies they must evolve to acquire and make better use of their first party data, as this will soon be their only principle form of data collection. Many marketers claim to not feel ready or prepared for the demise of third party data. However, this provides an opportunity for the development of first party data, with the help of software such as CRM, email marketing or analytics taking centre stage.”

With this in mind, what can marketers do now to capture first party data?

Site registrations, account logins and gated content

Most ecommerce sites will give a user the opportunity to create an account to make future checkout processes faster and more streamlined. It’s a great way to capture data, and build demographics based on past purchasing behaviour.

A lot of media companies allow users to access a set number of articles before having to register to continue reading, and this data can be leveraged for their own marketing, as well as being used to sell ad space and sponsorship opportunities to third parties who want to reach the publications’ target audience.

It can be more difficult for B2B businesses to capture this data. However, offering things like discounts, demos, webinars, and access to exclusive content can help to build an opted in and engaged audience.

It’s important to remember that to use this data for marketing purposes. the user has to agree to their data being used in this way. Failure to do so may result in a business being in breach of GDPR, so ensure that when a new account is created, the user is presented with clear options about how their data will be used.

Email marketing lists

Lots of the data collected through account setup, registrations and content downloads can be added to an email marketing database.

Depending on the amount of data that is collected, a huge amount of segmentation and personalisation can be applied to deliver highly targeted email campaigns.

The vast majority of email marketing platforms have the ability to integrate with ecommerce stores to enable abandoned cart and viewed product automation emails, as well as personalised product recommendations based on past purchasing criteria.

Another way of further refining an email marketing audience is to ask them to confirm their preferences, such as how often they want to hear from you, and the types of content they are interested in.

Social media and communities

Social media can be a good source of data, as you can see who engages with your profile or page. The problem is, the data is owned by the social media platform, so while you can forge relationships, for example, with people who are fans of your business, you can’t actually extract that information (in an ethical way) to use as your own marketing data.

An alternative to this is an online community. Acting as a place where users can interact, ask questions, and share information, a community platform that is owned and managed by your organisation provides access to opted in contacts that you can start building relationships with. Be aware that communities do take a lot of time and effort to plan, launch, and maintain, but once established, can provide granular insights into your audience.

Improved profiling and data segmentation

Once you have basic information, there are usually ways in which to enrich it.

This can be achieved by doing things like:

  • Asking a customer to complete their profile once an account has been created to include their shopping preferences, such as budget, size, styles, and trends they like
  • Collecting additional personal information, such as their birthday, age, gender, income
  • Giving logged in customers the ability to add items to a wishlist or save/like products
  • Looking at the content they have interacted with, how often, and the kind of messaging that resonates with them most
  • Segmenting users into categories to be targeted with tailored messaging based on their purchase behaviour and interests
  • Taking data collected from across multiple touchpoints and using a CRM to bring it all together

While the phase out of third party cookies will make it more difficult to reengage with those lower in the funnel through tactics like remarketing, arguably, first party data is more valuable, and marketers should be taking steps to utilise the data they have available to nurture these contacts.

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