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Every now and then, an update is announced that shakes the world of digital marketing.
- In 2011, the Google Panda Update changed the face of SEO by rewarding high-quality content and stamping out keyword stuffing.
- In 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was designed to provide consumers with greater privacy and personal data protection.
- In April 2021, the introduction of App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in Apple’s iOS 14.5 allowed millions of mobile users to opt out of having their activity in apps and websites tracked online when using their Apple devices.
- Google is planning to get rid of third-party cookies altogether, perhaps as soon as 2022. Not only has Google announced that they will be phasing out the use of third-party cookies, but they won’t be building "alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products."
At first glance, these updates may seem like a hindrance to customer experience, but these updates are all about making the customer the priority. And that's what Sitecore is all about too. But let's take a step back for a moment...
The phased removal of third-party cookies certainly got people talking. On the face of it, it looked like the ability to target individuals was being taken away, measuring campaign success would be impaired, and for some, there would be the potential for advertising fraud to escalate through malware and bots.
However, all is not lost. This is an amazing opportunity to now focus on first-party data. Particularly for the brands that value their customers and are striving to be a leader in delivering relevant and meaningful customer experiences.
Looking to the future with first-party data
With first-party data comes great responsibility, deeper customer insights, and the key to best practice personalization.
Of course, there are challenges, but there are also opportunities to revisit existing strategies and plan for a future with greater customer insight and more sophisticated personalization. These changes all lead to a customer experience that drives likeability, loyalty, and ultimately, advocacy.
There are a number of other reasons as to why we believe that in a cookieless world, the future is bright:
- A buying experience can happen across multiple touchpoints and channels. Being able to connect these dots with seamless interactions is essential. Your customers want to experience unified and connected journeys.
But using third-party cookies to track customer behavior is unreliable. They’re responsible for all the times you’ve been served up an advert of something you’ve already purchased. Or even worse, something you’ve already purchased and returned…
- 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated, rather than anything metrics-based (McKinsey).
Organizations that offer seamless, personalized customer experiences are those that truly know their customers. And we don’t just mean knowing demographics, location, gender etc., but deeper insights - additional layers that help them understand customer behaviors and what is influencing them. This is a power that first-party data and the right tech stack can provide and third-party data just can’t match.
- The problem with third-party cookies is that they can feel invasive. Customers want to be treated with respect and first-party data brings the pivotal advantage of customers feeling that they are being treated as humans. This is your opportunity to create meaningful moments, and authentic customer experience.
- With first-party data, marketers are in control. No more serving up irrelevant adverts. You can truly understand your customers’ individual stories and tailor the journey just for them. You can trust that what they’re seeing and experiencing, is exactly what you want them to experience.
- For some marketers, an over-reliance on third-party cookies has led to lazy strategies and the neglecting of prospective new customers. This is the chance to reach untapped audiences and focus on building and nurturing long lasting connections.
- In fact, having a reason to reassess your strategies is an incredible opportunity for your digital marketing efforts. Now is the time to tick those jobs off of your list that have been there far too long, such as optimizing your personalization strategy and reviewing your technology stack - let’s get to it.
Keeping up with your customers
There are many reasons to stay positive as we step into a cookieless world, and the main takeaway is the importance of first-party data. The DMA found that 58% of consumers are explicitly willing to share data with brands for benefits such as more personalized experiences (DMA’s Consumer Email Tracker 2020 Report).
This goes to show that it is absolutely still possible to get to know your customers, but they want something in return. What they want, is seamless, personalized experiences that provide value.
To find out more about how to make the most of first-party data and how Sitecore can support you, arrange a demo with one of our experts.