First-party data strategy: 3 things you can do right now
What will the marketing future look like without cookies? As our two experts Martin Twellmeyer and Alexander Kull noted in the “OMR After-Talk”, there was little on what is a hot topic even at this year’s OMR. Even if much is currently still unspecific or unsatisfactory, companies must not close their eyes, otherwise, the competition may already be in the fast lane. Therefore, companies must start proactively developing plans now to prepare for a world without third-party cookies. We’ve identified three practical actions for you to take right now. Here, we focus specifically on first-party data as a source of high-quality customer relationships and an opportunity for effective and personalized marketing in a “cookie-free” world.
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1. Taking stock of your current first-party data
To prepare for a marketing world without third-party cookies, it’s helpful to first take stock. Take a realistic look at how your company currently handles first-party data. In principle, all touchpoints can be considered data sources. The more precisely you know from where you (can) obtain first-party data, the better you can align your strategy. For an as-is analysis, for example, answer important key-questions and identify strategic data points:
- What first-party data are we already acquiring?
- How do we collect it?
- Where do we collect it?
- Which touchpoints or customer journeys are particularly effective in capturing it?
- How can we replicate, expand or optimize these strategic data points?
Takeaway: Take care of your first-party data now, even if not all use cases can be implemented satisfactorily and there is still a lack of clarity. If you don’t start until everyone else does and a certain amount of pressure has built up, your competitors will already be ahead of you in case of doubt.
2. Define consistent customer profiles
Based on your inventory and the insights you have gained from it, you can develop a first-party data strategy. This includes defining consistent customer profiles. They give you a complete view of your customers and are the basis for personalized marketing without third-party cookies. Unified customer profiles include, for example:
- Sociographic characteristics
- Demographic characteristics
- Shopping carts and shopping cart abandonments
To be able to define uniform customer profiles, a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is needed as a solid technical infrastructure that enables data to be centralized, synchronized and linked. Additional data, e.g. from CRM, the website, an app, or external sources (e.g. marketing software), can be integrated using API interfaces.
Takeaway: Data and information that you acquire yourself via your online store and website have a major advantage: They flow directly into the customer lifetime value and enable you to carry out further segmentation and targeted cross-channel marketing – completely without third-party data. The introduction of a loyalty program is a particularly good idea here.
3. Use server-side tracking
Another essential component of a successful first-party data strategy is server-side tracking. In traditional tracking, data is sent from the web server to the tracking server using the browser. This exchange makes data protection much less secure and reduces data quality. If server-side tracking is used, the “detour” via the browser is eliminated because the data is forwarded anonymously directly from the web server to the target system. This is usually a customer intelligence solution, a marketing software or a marketing cloud. The greatest advantages of server-side tracking include:
- Higher data quality: The acquired user data can be used directly and in real-time.
- Data sovereignty: The data remains in the hands of the advertiser and cannot be used by third-party providers.
- Security: Controlling data acquisition via the advertiser’s server per se provides more control and analysis options.
- Independence: Server-side tracking minimizes the disruptive factors and dependence on third-party providers in data collection.
Takeaway: Server-side tracking does not require a detour via browsers and “underlying” tracking servers. Instead, the company’s web server and the marketing cloud communicate directly with each other. Marketers can use this valid user data for targeted campaign planning and personalized targeting.
Class instead of mass
The elimination of third-party cookies presents marketing departments with a whole new set of challenges. However, the opportunities outweigh the risks: Customers can be offered higher-quality and more personalized experiences. Through a consistent acquisition of first-party data and targeted use of first-party cookies, your customer relationships become more real-time, personalized, and based on mutual trust – class not mass, so to speak. In the end, this is exactly what customers want.
Above all, you can counteract the enormous loss of trust suffered by third-party cookies with a well-thought-out first-party data strategy and uniform customer profiles. Instead of arbitrary targeting, you rely on personalized advertising offers that pick up customers in their lifeworlds. This automatically shifts your focus further in the direction of existing customer marketing, as the trust and data basis has already been created and this gives you much greater scope for action – especially in the area of cross-channel marketing and targeting. For a personalized, cross-channel customer journey, you can then even link digital and analog channels, for example, targeted print mailings within an email campaign or loyalty program.