The end of cookies marks a new era for digital marketing. Brands need to adjust if they want to succeed. The first step? De-risking their digital strategy.
But what exactly does that mean? De-risking simply means thinking of tactics and strategies independent from third-party data collection methods, like cookies, and implementing them now. This will protect you from consumers’ negative perceptions of brands that use third-party data, and it will mean that your marketing strategy doesn’t go stagnant when you decide to fully ax your cookie-driven strategy.
While cookies used to be the gold standard of marketing, times have changed. The pandemic led to increased levels of digital acceleration across industries and changed the way we think about marketing and what customers really want. Third-party cookies gave brands the ability to re-target engaged visitors and see which ads performed best. But in the future, winning big in marketing will be much bigger than cookies. It must involve a comprehensive omnichannel marketing strategy that creates a more holistic customer experience.
Cookies vs. first-party data
Traditionally, cookies were the go-to tool for marketers across industries, but as conversations about customer privacy increased, people began to wonder if this was really the best method of data collection.
Most customers understand that they have to share some information to get something in return, such as perks, exclusive content, and special promotions. The issue with cookies is that customers weren’t necessarily aware of what they were sharing. This caused a distrust for the companies taking their data, as customers felt like they were being taken advantage of or even spied on.
The key to making the digital economy work is getting educated consumer consent. If consumers fully understand what data they are sharing—and consent to sharing it—they will feel respected, which is the first step in earning their trust. This is where first-party or (zero-party) data comes in.
First-party data includes all information that is shared directly by a customer with your company. This can look like a variety of things—preferences, phone numbers, email addresses, purchase behaviors, and so on. This information holds higher value because it is shared by the customer themselves, making it more accurate and providing an opportunity to establish a trusting relationship between the customer and your brand. Building these first-party data sources is the first step to effective digital advertising.
Multichannel vs. omnichannel marketing
While first-party data can de-risk your data collection efforts, it is equally as important to de-risk your overall marketing strategy. If you don’t use data effectively, you’ve wasted your efforts. In the past, marketing campaigns existed in silos, separated by platforms. They focused on each individual channel rather than the customer. Whatever data existed was separated by channel, with little crossover between them. The issue here is that customers don’t exist on just one channel. They experience brands across platforms and through multiple mediums on any given day. This traditional, siloed approach is referred to as “multi-channel marketing”.
Marketers must focus on omnichannel marketing to see long-term success. Omni-channel marketing understands that customers are more engaged when they interact with your brand across multiple channels. Omnichannel campaigns earn engagement rates of nearly 19 percent, compared to 5.4 percent for single-channel campaigns. Customers who interact with your brand across multiple channels are also more likely to spend money. One study found that customers who interacted with a brand across four or more channels spent 9 percent more than the customers who only interacted with a brand on one channel.
Sometimes it can feel like the system is stacked against you. Omnichannel marketing presents its own unique challenges because existing marketing systems are built around individual channels. Each channel claims to have the greatest influence on a customer’s likelihood to buy. The burden then falls on marketers to shift their mindset from a channel-first perspective to a customer-first perspective.
Think about it this way—your customers don’t suddenly change their personality and preferences when they go from Facebook to email. So why would you craft a marketing strategy that acts as if they do? Whatever first-party data your company has collected applies across channels, making it easier to develop your omnichannel strategy. Leveraging this customer data allows you to create more personalized experiences (whether in stores or online). At AdRoll, our goal is to take customer information—given with full consent—and apply it across platforms, so it can be used more strategically to help businesses and their customers.
As our environment gets more and more competitive and brands continue to grow, companies must use every resource available to them to stay ahead. Omnichannel marketing isn’t just a nice bonus—it is essential for the modern e-commerce marketer in today’s competitive environment.