Once the shift away from third-party cookies intensifies in 2022 and 2023, companies that are prepared will have the advantage of relevant, timely, and insightful consumer experiences compared to the one-size-fits-all generic experiences of the competition. Those that haven’t planned ahead of time will have to create a First-Party Data Strategy from bottom-up, all the while dealing with a lack of data.
Data obtained through third-party cookies has long been used to fuel targeted top-of-funnel marketing initiatives. Third-party cookies provided a compelling, data-driven option for marketers to target and measure otherwise anonymous consumers in the era of big data. However, due to privacy concerns, major browser updates have been implemented that disable third-party cookie functionality.
There are more restrictions now to digital data signals, and third-party cookie loss is just one indication of a larger trend that includes identifier restrictions, and increased regulations. The combined effect of these developments could result in data depreciation, which means marketers should reconsider their data strategy.
To provide the best possible customer experience (CX), organizations will need to modify any current strategy that depends on identifiers and third-party cookie technology. Moving to a first-party data strategy is a solid first step.
Companies have always acquired first-party data – but without a targeted data strategy focused on actually leveraging the data obtained directly from customer connections, it can become siloed and fail to meet specified business goals. To leverage the asset, brands should activate this data and develop a more targeted, intentional, and effective approach.
For most businesses, a first-party data strategy will need them to shift away from customer acquisition techniques and focus on the customer journey itself — the direct contact they have with their consumers, rather than through an intermediary or the marketplace. The ability to understand, recognize, and engage digital customers in pre-purchase situations may be hampered in the new world without third-party cookies.
To succeed in the modern world, brands must focus on customer experience across the entire customer journey, including post-purchase. For instance, a traditional online marketing approach would focus on attracting that first-time buyer, depending on third-party data cookies to figure out who the buyer is, what their preferences are, and what strategies might encourage them to opt-in or make that first purchase. These strategies would be useless if third-party data and cookies were not used.
However, brands can gather insights from past purchase behavior, brand loyalty, or even future intent by employing first-party data, and provide an experience that is more focused on retention and loyalty.
Here are three simple steps brands can follow to get ahead of the strategy game:
- Focus on data identification, collection and consent – Focus on data identification, acquisition, and consent – Instead of buying data from a third-party or accumulating it through a third-party cookie, brands should leverage data obtained directly from customer connections. The data will be more accurate and up to date, allowing for the creation of improved buyer experiences. The value exchange/consent strategy relies heavily on identification.
- First-party data as a differentiator – While all companies will need to be good at contextual targeting, where brands can differentiate themselves and set themselves apart from competitors is in how they use their first-party data strategy to maximize performance.
- Value exchange across the entire customer journey – Surviving in the new world entails more than just attracting new consumers. Brands should look after their existing customers. First-party data can aid in the value exchange throughout the customer experience, including post-purchase
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