The Cookieless Future: 5 Ways Marketers Can Get More First-Party Data

min read
The Cookieless Future: 5 Ways Marketers Can Get More First-Party Data

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil — it’s data. For marketers, data is especially important, since it provides deep insights into consumer behavior and enables audience targeting on a granular level. This is how, when you’re susceptible to that impulse buy, Facebook can serve you ads for your greatest vice — whether it’s alcohol delivery, Nicholas Cage collectibles, or delicious frozen custards. 

In the past, marketers mainly relied on third-party data, which they bought from outside aggregators or captured from cookies. But increased regulations on tracking cookies — and recent restrictions like GDPR, CCPA, IDFA — have made it harder for marketers to collect third-party customer data. This is why we’re heading toward a cookieless future.

There have been countless doom and gloom articles about the death of tracking cookies, but the situation isn’t all that dire. You’re probably sitting on all the first-party data you need to execute strong marketing campaigns — you just have to know how to tap into it. 

To navigate a cookieless future, most marketers say they plan to tap into more of their first-party data in the coming year. Read on to learn some of the richest first-party data sources you can use to feed your marketing strategy in a cookieless world. 

What Are Tracking Cookies?

Tracking cookies are tiny bits of code that live on your computer and track your browsing activity across the web. As you visit different websites, advertisers can use cookies to build a profile of your interests, which they then use to target you with ads. For example, if you've been browsing for sneakers online, you might start seeing ads for sneakers on other websites you visit.

Why Are Tracking Cookies Being Phased Out?

The phase-out of tracking cookies is being driven by two main forces: privacy concerns and a shift in regulations. 

On the privacy front, users are becoming increasingly aware of how their data is collected and used online. Many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of being tracked across the web without their knowledge or consent. Tracking cookies can create a detailed profile of your interests, which some find intrusive. Imagine someone following you around every store you visit, and taking note of everything you look at. This is essentially what tracking cookies do online to build a detailed profile of your interests without your explicit consent. This lack of transparency and control over personal data has fueled public concern.

Secondly, governments and regulatory bodies are taking action to give users more control over their data. New privacy laws, like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California, are making it harder for advertisers to rely on tracking cookies. These regulations require companies to be transparent about how they collect and use data, and they give users the right to opt out of data tracking.

What Does Cookieless Mean?

This may sound like Cookie Monster’s worst nightmare, but those aren’t the kind of cookies we’re talking about. Imagine walking into your go-to coffee shop, but the baristas can't remember your usual low-fat vanilla cappuccino with light foam. That's kind of where we're heading with "cookieless" marketing. These tiny data packets, traditionally used to track your browsing habits and personalize your online experience, are heading for the chopping block. 

Going cookieless doesn't mean the end of personalization entirely, but it does throw down the gauntlet for marketers to get creative. Instead of relying solely on past browsing behavior, they'll need to tap into first-party sources of customer they already possess, like purchase history, phone conversations, and online chat transcripts. While cookieless marketing presents a challenge, it's also an opportunity to forge stronger connections with audiences by tapping into new data sources.

We go into more detail about going Cookieless in our other post, “Tracking Cookies are Dead: What Marketers Can Do About It

5 Ways Marketers Can Get More First-Party Data in a Cookieless World

1. Capture Conversation Intelligence Data From Phone Calls

Shameless plug — as the leader in conversation intelligence, you know we had to kick things off with this one. But hear me out, there are big benefits to tapping into this often underutilized source of data. When your customers call you, they’re literally telling you exactly what their product or service interests are, what barriers to purchase they face, if they’re price sensitive, the time-frame in which they’d like to buy, the pre-purchase questions you didn’t clear up on your website, and much more. You can also get tracking data about which marketing campaign, keyword, or website page drove the call.

This is a treasure trove of first-party data that’s difficult to get anywhere else — and conversation intelligence solutions capture these insights at scale with AI, so you don’t have to manually listen to calls. In addition, Invoca has a wide range of integrations so you can pass this data into the martech platforms you use every day, including: Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, Facebook Advertising, Salesforce (more on this in the next section), Google Analytics, and many more.

How are marketers using conversation intelligence data to improve their campaigns? Digital Market Media, an industry leader in insurance marketing and lead generation, uses Invoca to attribute all the phone call conversions it drives, whether they originated from digital, direct mail, email or virtually any other channel. With full visibility into the results of all of its campaigns and channels, DMM is able to accurately report on all of its marketing efforts, and has increased its conversion rate 110% year-over-year. Read the full case study to see more of DMM’s eye-popping results.

2. Tap Into CRM Data

An oldie but goodie, data from your CRM (customer relationship management) platform should be a critical component of your marketing strategy. CRMs keep track of every touchpoint and interaction throughout the entire customer lifecycle. This gives you a complete, unified profile of each customer you can use to better target them. 

If your goal is to convert prospects to customers, you can see which marketing programs each prospect has engaged with, which products they’ve expressed an interest in, what objections they may have to making a purchase, and more. This will allow you to segment prospects into campaigns that align with their interests. For example, if you’re an auto dealership, you could serve prospects with ads for the specific vehicle they expressed an interest in over the phone — and, if they told your rep that price was an issue, you could add a special financing offer to sweeten the deal.

If you want to upsell existing customers, you can see which products they purchased, any additional products they expressed interest in, how long it’s been since they last engaged with you, and more. With this data, you can target them with upsell ads or promotional emails that are relevant to their interests. For instance, if you’re a telecom company, you can serve customers with your basic internet package ads to upgrade to your high-speed broadband package.

But remember, for your CRM to be effective, every member of your team needs to follow the same standards for entering data. Otherwise, there could be discrepancies in their labeling that could throw off your targeting. 

One more tip: if you’re using a conversation intelligence platform like Invoca, you can automatically pass data from each inbound phone conversation into Salesforce. This eliminates the manual process, freeing up your agents to spend more time selling. It also ensures your records are complete and accurate. Check out the video below to see how it works.

3. Make the Most of Your Website and Mobile App Behavior Data 

When customers navigate your website or mobile app, their journey isn’t linear. They bounce between different pages as they explore your products and services, place and remove items from their online shopping cart, self-educate by reading your content, and scroll through your online reviews. Understanding how consumers interact with your website or mobile app can provide deep insights into their wants and needs.

When you tap into website and mobile app behavior data, you can create campaigns that proactively anticipate customer needs. For example, if a customer put an item in their shopping cart and left it there, you could serve them ads for that product urging them to complete their purchase — trust me, when Caviar did this with the Chinese food I left in my cart, it worked all too well. 

Or, as another example, if you’re a travel provider and you had a visitor research flights to Miami without making a booking, you could send them an email that includes a list of fun attractions in Miami and urges them not to miss out. If they don’t open the email, you could send a follow-up with an exclusive discount. 

If you have a conversation intelligence solution, you can also tie each phone call to the online interaction that drove it. This allows you to see which campaigns, keywords, and webpages are driving the highest-quality sales calls and which need to go back to the drawing board. It also allows you to attribute more conversions to your website or app, since you can report on phone call conversions in addition to online conversions. 

4. Use Customer Purchase History

Do you know who your best customers are? Do you know when they’re in the market to make additional purchases from you? As they say, the best way to predict the future is to study the past. By looking at patterns in your customers’ purchase history, you can anticipate when they’re in the market to make future purchases — and create marketing campaigns to entice them to do so.

This data is most helpful for businesses that run on a subscription model or sell seasonal services. For example, if you’re a lawn care company and a customer has historically bought a “premium package” each spring, and they haven’t yet purchased one this spring, you could nudge them with a promotional email or social media ads for the premium package. Or, if you’re a telecom company, you could create automated campaigns that nudge customers to renew their service when their plan is about to expire. 

When you automate and scale these strategies for all of your most loyal customers, you can maximize your recurring revenue.

5. Conduct Customer Surveys

Sometimes, the data you’re collecting from the above sources isn’t enough — you may want to dive deeper into customer sentiment about your brand, take the temperature on a recent product launch or event, or learn how you can create better experiences for each demographic you serve. When you need this level of granularity, surveys can be a great data collection tool. 

But beware: unlike the first-party data sources above, surveys require effort on the part of your customers. To secure their participation, it’s best to offer something in return, whether it’s a discount, a coupon, or a chance to win a grand prize. Whatever the incentive is, you should make it worth their while — you’re asking for their time. 

When you create your survey, it’s important to only ask questions that fulfill your end goal — when you cut unnecessary questions, you’ll boost completion rates. You should also avoid leading questions, as those will create biases in your data. And don’t forget: rating scales are your friend — they allow customers to quickly choose a response, rather than writing a detailed answer. They’re also easier to compile and aggregate than freeform answers.

5 Tips to Navigate a Cookieless Future

With the future of marketing shifting towards a privacy-first approach, and with the decline of third-party cookies, here are five key ways to navigate the cookieless landscape:

  • Build strong relationships with your audience and collect first-party data directly from them with their consent. This can be done through loyalty programs, surveys, and other engagement methods. When users understand the value exchange of sharing their information, they are more likely to opt in. 
  • Explore alternative targeting methods such as contextual targeting and identity resolution. Contextual targeting involves serving ads relevant to the content users consume, while identity resolution involves creating anonymized user profiles based on shared attributes. 
  • Collaborate with partners such as ad platforms, publishers, and other industry players to find innovative solutions for reaching target audiences in a cookieless world. By pooling resources and expertise, you can explore emerging technologies like contextual targeting consortiums or data clean rooms that offer privacy-compliant ways to personalize advertising without relying on third-party cookies.
  • Invest in privacy-centric technology that prioritizes user privacy. This can include tools that help you collect and manage first-party data, comply with privacy regulations, and implement alternative targeting methods. 
  • Stay informed and agile by following the latest news and trends in the cookieless future. Consult with legal and privacy experts to ensure you are compliant with evolving regulations.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how conversation intelligence data can fuel your marketing strategy? Check out these resources:

Want to see Invoca in action? Request your personalized demo.

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