Changes are afoot in the marketing and advertising world as a key lifeforce fades into extinction: the third-party cookie. Faced with the dilemma of how to continue delivering personalized customer engagements without it, 41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data (Hubspot).
But what if you already had the key insights you needed to understand your customers and drive revenue from your marketing spend? Let’s explore how enhanced first-party data can help you shed third-party dependency—and what steps you can take to future-proof your MarTech stack and prove incrementality today.
#1: Embrace the cookieless future
Cookies have been a best friend to businesses large and small for years, allowing brands to track web traffic, improve UX and collect data for targeted advertising. But now, thanks to shifting policies and growing concerns for consumer privacy, that’s all changing.
What’s happening, exactly? First, Google plans to phase out the third-party cookie from Chrome browsers and replace it with Topics API. Topics API assigns users a set of topics that represent their weekly interests based on browser history. Sites and advertisers receive three topics that represent their visitors’ interests. Apple, for its part, also now requires apps running on its devices to get consumer permission before tracking their activity. And new consumer data privacy laws continue to take shape across the country with data privacy proposals under review in Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
What does it mean for brick-and-mortar retail and restaurant marketers? The shift away from third-party cookies represents a major shakeup to targeting strategies, since Chrome comprises nearly 60% of the web browser market, and more than half of all global web traffic (Statista). As new changes take hold, marketers need to prepare their tech stack and corresponding targeting strategies for a privacy-first future.
In a nutshell, consumers will choose whether or not to give you information, and you need to be prepared to capture and enhance that information to create a basis for targeting.
#2: Use first-party data to understand your customers
The easiest way to future-proof your marketing strategy in the face of changing privacy policies is to focus on shoring up first-party data, or information collected directly from your customers. The cookieless future is full of first-party data, but where do you actually get it? There are a number of sources within a retailer’s reach, including, but not limited to:
- Behaviors or actions taken across your website, app, and/or product (via the first-party cookie)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
- Social media profiles
- Subscription-based emails
- Customer feedback
Keep in mind that not everyone will opt-in, making these measures inconclusive when it comes to creating a full picture of your customer base. However, don’t forget about point-of-sale (POS) data. Since most consumers pay with cards (credit/debit), you automatically capture abbreviated card data from anyone who makes a purchase in your store. By layering this information with anonymized offline identity and behavioral insights, you can create a privacy-safe, 360-degree view of all your in-store customers.
The right data platform can help you leverage this data in a privacy-safe way to gain insight into unknown consumers with access to item-level purchase history, demographics, socioeconomic, special interests, and predictive attributes in support of strategic and tactical decision making. But keep in mind: your insights need unifying: pull it all together to create a single, longitudinal consumer profile.
#3: Leverage your data & audiences—and reach out at the right time
Once you’ve enhanced your first-party data to create a deeper understanding of customers, it’s time to activate those insights and start engaging. Now that you know the “who,” you need to perfect the “where” and “when.”
Targeting your audience takes the right combination of data management platform (DMP) and demand side platform (DSP) capabilities. First, you need to clearly track and understand the user’s cross-device journey, particularly given the prevalence of omni-channel convenience. Next, you can buy advertising based on that information and reach your targets at the right time.
#4: Align your marketing goals & spend
The campaign is live. Is this the finish line—or the start of the race? It’s a trick question! Make sure you have the right measurement tools in place to “close the loop” on performance and incremental sales lift. Armed with the right analytics, you can make sure your marketing goals align to your spend to drive towards your business goals.
Here’s where the beauty of enhanced first-party data comes in: you’re already working from directly-measured, comprehensive insights to gain a deeper knowledge of customers, positioning you to make better-informed decisions across the funnel that drive economic outcomes.
Bridge the gap with Bridg
We work with brick-and-mortar retailers to help them solve the “anonymous consumer” challenge, identify the real person behind the in-store transaction and gain insight into SKU-level purchase history, demographics and more, all while protecting consumer privacy. These unique insights can help you drive targeted and personalized marketing communications across 200+ integrated advertising platforms for enhanced media efficiency and top line growth.
Ready to tackle the unknown by enhancing your first-party data? Let’s connect today.