How can brands create deeper customer connections in a cookie-less world?

Maria Thorpe, Head of Data Science ,

The disappearance of third-party cookies is causing a reckoning for the marketing industry. Losing out on third-party data stands to leave brands in the dark about behavioural and demographic insights that currently help them create target audiences and segments.

Businesses will no longer be able to farm out their data to a third-party provider, instead having to redesign their data solutions and rely on first-party data or data from walled gardens and contextual targeting. In a world where data and analytics are becoming more important by the day, brands need to adjust quickly, or they risk losing out to the competition.

If they are properly prepared however, the demise of third-party cookies presents serious opportunities by placing the intentionality and accountability of marketing back onto the brand. Instead of relying upon third-party data that isn’t bespoke to their business, brands will be able to utilise data that is unique to them and their customers.

This means to maximise the potential of first-party data, businesses must take more responsibility for interacting with their consumers and have a more deliberate attitude towards their data – constantly asking themselves what they are collecting and how they plan to use it.

Nowadays, customers expect a bespoke experience that reflects their interactions, and they want these interactions to come directly to them. Luckily for brands how they can provide this by maximising their first-party data’s potential is within their grasp.

Transparency, trust and control

A good customer-data relationship must be built on three core tenets: transparency, trust, and control.

Customers need to clearly understand what you intend to do with their data, trust your business to do the right thing with their data and have full control to opt out. 

For example, if you are asking for someone’s birthday, it must be clear why and what you are going to use that data for. There must be a clear value exchange for the customer and a transparent privacy policy explaining how they can remove their data from the system.

At the end of the day, customer satisfaction is key to success, and you can’t meet their needs if you don’t understand them. For potential customers to hand over their data to your business, they need to see a clear benefit. There needs to be a value exchange where the data the customer provides your organisation is used effectively to benefit them, such as more personalised experiences or discounted prices.  

The switch to first-party data in a cookieless world is not without its challenges, but by exhibiting a clear value exchange with your customer that establishes a relationship built on trust and transparency, you can create deeper connections that foster loyalty. 

Without any of these key tenets, your customer-data relationship will fail to reach its potential. 

Collaboration is key

It’s all well and good establishing that critical relationship of transparency, trust and control with potential customers, but as a single company there’s only so much data you can collect.

That’s why it’s so important to make use of other businesses first-party data in secure environments like a data clean room. A data clean room (or a data collaboration room as I like to call it) is a secure environment where organisations can collect data from multiple sources and combine it with their first-party data.

It’s this process where first-party data comes into its own. By combining your data, no matter how little, with information from other data identity providers, tech integration partners and media and advertising agencies, you can start to gain key insights into your target demographics such as their preferences and where to target them. 

As consumers are more likely to provide additional information to a brand they trust, this first-party data is of a lot higher quality than traditional third-party data. This allows you to go above and beyond with your customer experience, offering personalisation, recommendation systems and even monetisation, as demonstrated by Netflix, whose entire business model is based upon first-party data.

Ensure your digital strategy is in place

This all means little however, if your business doesn’t have a clear digital strategy in place.

There’s been a paradigm shift when it comes to data. It’s no longer just the responsibility of the paid, social or data team. For businesses to maximise their data’s potential, they need to have a robust digital strategy that incorporates and encourages collaboration across the organisation. 

Businesses have previously collected data in an extremely siloed manner. The marketing, product and data department all collect it but none of this data talks to each other or has identifiers that can match up.

Consequently, as a business it’s difficult to work in an evidence-based manner. The narrative and truth you are receiving based on the data from different parts of your business doesn’t add up.

It’s vital then to ask yourself as a business what your goals are, what data you need to achieve them and how you are going to collate that information. This doesn’t necessarily mean centralisation, and one data team doing everything. It can still be the responsibility of different teams, there just has to be more intentionality and process.

Simple procedures such as establishing data contracts that set out search level agreements and how often a data set will be updated can ensure that departments are in sync with their data collection and collaboration.

As with most things, it likely won’t run smoothly from the off so it’s important to find that balance between optimisation and testing. A lot of the success behind first-party data comes from putting in place testing strategies that allow your business to work in an evidence-based manner to get the most out of data for your customers.

By finding the digital strategy that works for your business, collaborating with other first-party data collectors and establishing a customer-data relationship based on trust, transparency and control you can create a deeper customer connection in a cookie-less world.

The demise of third-party cookies is shaking up the marketing world. Make sure your business is prepared by reaching out to one of our team today.

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