Embracing first-party data in a post-cookie world

First-party data is the only way for marketing teams to survive in the post-cookie world. Here is a list of strategies and approaches you can use to connect with consumers in this new privacy-focused landscape and measure the quality of your campaigns.

The cookie apocalypse is here.

Distraught, skeletal marketers dressed in rags wander around a bleak, barren landscape devoid of all life, meaning, and hope. Listen carefully, and you can hear them muttering about how, in the old world, it was easy to target consumers or understand the impact of their ad campaigns.

You can join them in their plaintive song under the scorching midday sun. Or, you can head towards an encampment where marketing has a future. It’s called First-Party Data Town.

Let’s go!

How first-party data can get you back in the game

In theory, the wealth of third-party data and marketing technology should be great for consumers. Personalization means they can get more relevant recommendations and messaging. However, in practice, many consumers feel uncomfortable with large organizations harvesting their data and using it to target them or stalk them around the internet.

With privacy a big concern, businesses need to adapt and adjust. Here’s how you can use first-party data to keep getting your message in front of the right consumers.

#1. Prioritize zero-party and first-party data

OK, first, let’s distinguish between these two types of data.

Zero-party data is information that customers proactively share with your business. It includes things like:

  • Quizzes
  • Polls
  • Feedback
  • Loyalty programs

The idea here is that customers explicitly consent to giving you this data.

First-party data is information that businesses collect when they interact with their customers. That includes:

  • Website browsing
  • Purchase history
  • Customer service interactions
  • Social media interactions
  • Product or app use

The best thing about both kinds of data is that they’re high-quality, accurate, and privacy-friendly. You can collect them using your customer relationship management (CRM) software or a customer data platform (CDP).

Focusing on this kind of data means you can offer your customers more personalized interactions.

Now, you might look at that and think, “Sure, that’s fine for targeting my existing customers, but how can I connect with new audiences?” Well, there are lots of old tricks that still work well, such as lead magnets.

So, if you want to collect zero and first-party data, you need to offer things that will help your target audience, such as:

  • Templates
  • E-books
  • Webinars
  • Free trials
  • Exclusive content.

Value exchange is a key part of collecting zero- and first-party data. Figure out the problems that your target audience wants to solve and help them do so via content. Then, the data will flow.

#2. Better website tracking

We’ve touched on this point above, but it deserves its own section. Companies have responded to the death of cookies by getting more creative with how they collect data from website visitors. There are a couple of stages here that you can employ without falling foul of data privacy regulations.

  • Server-side tracking is GDPR-compliant as long as you get consent. It involves using tracking scripts on your own servers.
  • URL parameters can help you track website visitors and provide a way to attribute the success of your marketing campaigns.
  • User logins: Encouraging or incentivizing users to create logins for your website gives you a ready source of zero-party data.

#3. Contextual advertising

Contextual advertising is growing, and it’s only going to get more important. Let’s explore this concept and see how it can help marketing teams adjust to the post-cookie world.

Behavioral advertising relies on user tracking and data. On the other hand, contextual advertisement uses content to match users with products or services.

So, you are still doing a kind of targeting, but it’s based on things within the content, such as keywords, topics, user sentiment, and the search intent that causes your target audience to click on the content.

Taking advantage of this approach requires extensive keyword and audience research, as well as consideration of the publications where ads are placed. Additionally, you’ll need to create excellent ads. However, with the right knowledge of your target audience, you can generate clicks and conversions without compromising on your user’s privacy.

To be clear, contextual advertising is not a novel concept. However, it is having a resurgence in the post-cookie world. For a more modern spin on this technique, use ML or natural language processing (NLP) to crunch the numbers needed to ensure your ad placements are more accurate and relevant.

Finally, to get the best results, think about the intent behind each keyword.

#4. Marketing automation tools

Modern marketing automation tools are also adapting to this cookie-free world. You can use them to collect and manage user data and even segment this information into user cohorts but without violating GDPR.

These can help you with the forms and landing pages, interactive content, and customer feedback you need to generate precious first-party data. You can also use them to build better customer journeys across all your marketing channels, too.

#5. Experiment with different attribution models

Once notice was served on the cookie; marketing teams began to explore different ways to attribute the effect of their campaigns. The fallout saw marketing mix modeling (MMM) reemerge as a way to evaluate results. We also saw the rise of multi-touch attribution modeling, which uses sophisticated probability calculations to “fill in the gaps.”

However, these approaches are not the only ways to collect the attribution data that you need to understand which campaigns work and which don’t.

Marketing tools, like Amanda AI, are perfect for a world without cookies. In fact, our robot has helped our clients thrive without using cookies long before Apple and Google announced their plans to protect user privacy.

Final thoughts

While the death of the cookie has robbed many marketing teams of their ability to attribute which campaigns or ads have impacted conversions, Amanda AI uses an impact-driven approach that doesn’t need third-party data to get results.

Instead, our robot constantly adjusts your creatives, messaging, and ad placement, using ML algorithms to place your ads in front of the right users. The result is efficient and optimized ads. Or, in other words, music to the ears of marketing teams who have seen conversions dip due to privacy policies on Meta, Google, or Bing.

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