We've been discussing the death of the cookie for a long time. Google announced plans to entirely phase out third-party cookies within two years. And although Google's privacy pivot is a win for privacy-conscious consumers, it's a headache for marketers and businesses who rely on these third-party cookies to advertise effectively. Next year will be here before we know it, so we need to be ready. We need to find a new way to satisfy our “sweet tooth” because the cookie is truly crumbling.
Cosying up with consumer expectations
We've established that consumers expect brands to know them. But what they're comfortable with is a different story. Our research shows that most people want a consistent experience regardless of whether they interact online or in-store.
Consumers want messages that recognise their shopping history. They want their data to be used in ways that make them feel comfortable and like an individual. So don't send them irrelevant content or offers based on information they haven't directly shared with you — that's considered creepy.
At the end of the day, it's a value exchange
2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index, released by Cheetah Digital, revealed that 55% of consumers are comfortable sharing data with brands in exchange for better service. So if you want to know more about the consumer, figure out what you can give them in return for that information. Experience shows that consumers respond positively to discounts, coupons, loyalty points, and rewards.
Use those aspects to gain additional insight into your consumer, understand your audience better, and then target them, using the data in a way that they find relevant and useful. Also, understand that consumers have high expectations for brands. All it takes is one misstep or one bad experience for them to go elsewhere because, with today's bustling online world, they have more options than ever before right at their fingertips.
For marketers struggling to meet the needs of consumers and their various demands, it's time to update their toolkits to include new strategies and tactics to thrive. They need to market to an individual with authenticity, relevance, and accuracy, which requires an entirely new way of thinking.
Take a look below for five ways to thrive in a world with no third-party cookies.
Five ways to survive a cookie-less future:
- Stop renting data: Build your own databases through direct-consumer relationships. Have a robust data-collection strategy to support this. And know that the data you need to market to individuals with the right level of relevance and privacy doesn't come easily. It requires a strategy that incentivises consumers to tell you about themselves willingly, with the permission to use that data.
- “Know them and show them”: Consumers expect digital interactions that are immediate and highly relevant to them. They have real-time expectations and think you should “know them and show them” how well you understand them. This requires a single view of the customer with preferences and insights that can be used for decision making in the moment to drive engaging experiences anywhere your customer interacts with you.
- Devise a loyalty initiative: Not every brand needs a loyalty program. But every brand does have to provide some sort of value exchange. Well-executed interactions across channels help customers feel a connection, and that connection leads to them reciprocating with purchases and, eventually, loyalty to your brand.
- Know the rules of engagement: Consumers expect to engage with you on different devices. In fact, today's consumers use an average of nearly six touchpoints, with half of them regularly using more than four when engaging with a brand.
- Create a craving: When customers want to participate in your loyalty program, you need to do more than incentivising transactions. You want to reward them for behaviours as well. Loyalty program management is vital to keep customers coming back for more.
Making the magic happen
A great goal is to get brands to focus on building out a zero-party data strategy. The reason is simple: this preference data comes directly from the consumer, so there are no intermediaries — no guesswork. They're telling you exactly what their preference is. It's psychographic data that includes your customers' values, attitudes, interests, and personality traits.
The only thing to be cognizant of is this will change over time. Unlike first-party data like first and last names and mobile numbers, which remain pretty static, zero-party data relating to attitudes and life stages continually evolves. So you have to keep understanding and collecting.
The key takeaway is that when you know individuals and can market to them with personalised experiences that they welcome — not because you snooped on them — magical things happen.
Don't take my word for it. Market research reveals that 44% of consumers will likely become repeat buyers, and 32% will likely leave a positive review after a personalised shopping experience. There is life after the death of the cookie, and if you're prepared, it has the potential to be even sweeter.