MicroD just spent a week in webinars talking about hot topics and trends in the furniture industry. Three marketing experts discussed the advanced marketing tactics of cookieless marketing and automation. This content is brought to you from our webinar about digital marketing automation after third-party cookies. Please enjoy this first part of the exclusive MicroD webinar.
Welcome to the MicroD Digital Marketing Clubhouse. It’s nice to be able to deep dive into big discussions with experts in marketing. We’re going to cover in part one:
Cookie-less marketing and marketing automation.
Third-party cookies, first-party cookies, let’s talk about it.
Cookie-less marketing is a big topic right now. Actually, let’s start back at the top for some foundations. Cookies are essentially these codes that are put on your browser when you visit a particular website. What this allows–let’s say–the marketer or advertiser to do with this cookie is to understand your habits. Understand where you’re going, what websites you’re visiting, so on and so forth. What’s awesome about cookies is that over time, allow us marketers to properly–
I say properly because there are bad characters out there…
— but properly target you based on your interests. And, frankly, has been the pillar for targeting for years now. What the difference between the cookies that I’m talking about?
Let’s say we’re looking at third-party cookies. Meaning that someone is able to track you through a snippet code or something like that on the website. First-party cookies are essentially the cookies that are on your website so that you can track a user around your own website. So it gives you a chance to do the exact same thing we just mentioned for third-party cookies but to do it on your website. That in essence is the big change here, right? So the big change that’s going to be happening across multiple systems– or already starting to change.
If you’re an iPhone user you probably already starting to feel this right now. It’s that these systems are starting to go away due to privacy laws and changes.
What Will Change after Third Party Cookies?
Third-party cookies are going away. And they’re exactly the ones we were accustomed to. Now we have companies that are going to try to work with this. And I’m sure Chris and you guys can talk about that in a second. But the big deal here is that the way we think about targeting more or hyper-targeting our customers are going to change.
This means we need to really start focusing back in our own websites. Owning our audiences through email and other tools that are out there to target folks on your own website. And then taking advantage of the new updates and new things that these you know the big players are going to do to try and try to keep make it still worth our while to market.
Because this is a big change. I mean, this is changing a lot of folks and not only is it a big deal for marketers. You’ve got to imagine… look at what they’re having to do through Google, Bing, etc. Are these other systems to kind of meeting this requirement now? What do you think Chris?
What Do Marketers Think about First Party Cookies?
No, I think you pretty much summed it up very well. I would say one of the easiest ways I used to remember the difference between the two cookies is this. First party cookies? People generally have a very favorable view of them. Quite honestly because it is a user experience cookie. For example, you wouldn’t want to keep selecting English as your language or necessarily going back in your wishlist and it being completely empty every time you visit a website. So first-party cookies are very helpful and they’re very user-centric. Now third-party cookies are basically outside cookies. Cookies from another domain. If somebody visits your website, a third party could be tracking what that user is doing on your website. And then use that data later for remarketing and retargeting of that visitor.
As Nate said, there’s a lot of changes that are coming with this. Not all of them bad for marketers. Because I think part of what Nate just alluded to is that it’s important to work on and rely on the strength of your website. And honestly providing the best experience you can. Because if people like you, they will share their information with you. They’ll use your website, and you can see what they’re doing. Then you provide them the experience they’re looking for.
Are Third-Party Cookies Really Helpful to Advertising?
Here’s my problem with third-party cookies. I’m so excited about this change. First of all, you’ve been reading a lot of content out there now because of Facebook and iOS 14. But this has been in the chatter for awhile. Think back to GDPR and California’s privacy laws. This phase-out has been planned out. People want more privacy. Something like 70% of internet users want their data to be more private. So it’s not brand new information. The thing about this that’s great is this. Yes, third-party cookies are easier to use for collecting data at low costs. But it’s not perfect. We use third-party cookies to personalize the marketing experience but how personalized are you really getting with your visitors?
Think about it.
When third-party cookies came to popularity for marketers and advertisers, there was a single smart device per user. Now there are 10 or so connected devices per user. It used to be a perfect system. And the third-party cookies aren’t transferring that information over between devices at the pace in which your customers are moving through the buyer’s journey.
How valid is the data we’re getting from these cookies? Third-party cookies overstate metrics often like the performance of the ad campaigns or—in worse cases—undershooting how well your ads are doing but overdelivering to your target audience because of the cookie tracking challenges.
It’s not a perfect system. It’s a crutch to avoid focusing on first-party and second-party cookies. Instead of working with your partners or developing a new strategy, I’ll rely on the third-party cookies. Which—bonus, you have no idea what kind of passive data you’re collecting anyway on your users. That can’t happen anymore. Everyone—retailers included—need to get back in the driver’s seat to build a better customer relationship with your buyers and building your own data. I’m just really excited about that aspect of this change.
We’re excited too, honestly, from a client-side of things.
Sure, it seems scary. But we’ve seen so much success without leveraging that so heavily. We use it just not a ton of emphasis from it. It’s not easy though. Email collection, those strategies aren’t easy. Chris, one question I have for you is what are your thoughts on FLOC and go into more of targeting but generalizing the groups.
What is Google Doing about Third-Party Cookies?
Oh yeah, I mean, I am unsold on it at this point. I think Google is building FLOC to replace third-party cookies using their platforms. It basically will keep users more anonymous and safe by grouping them all together using these cohort groups.
People who are shopping for diapers, for example, all would be grouped together in this platform. Which we were getting at already with some third-party cookies. I would argue that were some bad actors but we weren’t digging into the individual user level to target someone. I would want to read more as they get closer.
It’s the idea that we’ve got to work smarter not harder mentality. Third-party cookies have allowed us to leverage some of that behavior stuff to dictate who is getting what. Like any good thing, it should come to an end. It gives us the chance to refocus on our hub, our websites. As far as that’s concerned, the whole panic thing is interesting.
Well it’s as much panic as people don’t understand what’s happening. I think part of it is a rush to understand then plan.
I’m biased but do people really care?
Should Retailers Be Worried About Cookieless marketing?
Exactly. It’s a rush to find a replacement of the cookie and not a revision to my strategy. That’s the panic. The reason why we’ve been talking about this for a long time is so we can start building strategies to collect data. What should we be doing?
Let’s talk about it.
Getting authentic with collecting data. The campaigns doing the best are when we’re being authentic and asking for ways to personalize this experience for you. I want to exchange information to provide something of value to you. If you’re a retailer, offer a discount or coupon in exchange for contact information. Using that information to create segments and personalization. Or build some kind of reward system. What do you guys think about how you start to build that first-party data?
I think part of it is if you provide the type of experience that your visitors and your customers are expecting and you’re genuine, they will share their data with you. And it’s all in how you choose to use that data. As Emily said, you wouldn’t want to bash them over the head asking 50 questions up front. You can do it progressively over time.
For example if you collected their name and email up front then when they come back maybe then you collect their location. You can make determinations based off that data. Again, it’s about the experience. In my opinion people are more willing to give over their information when they trust you.
Is Marketing Automation too Advanced for Retail?
Okay, word association time. When I hear automation, I go to Pardot, Salesforce, Hubspot, Marketo. I think of email automation. Now that’s something I think a lot of retailers are using but a lot that are not because I do still see a lot of promotional-based emails.
But from the B2B side of things in your experience, where you know that’s a very strong tool, do you see a world where retailers use something like this? Do you see it as detailed as it may be on the B2B side? Or do you think, leveraging what Chris said, building the list over time and creating a better email campaign with personalization.
I think you’re right, Nate. I think it has to be based on the kind of segment data you already have. I’ve worked with some retailers who had a really great way of looking at automation. They wanted 2 buckets of people: people who have made a purchase and people who have left items in the shopping cart. Everyone fell into one of these 2 buckets. This is where they wanted to invest in automation. All other leads went to sales.
It’s about what the goals are for your campaigns. And how much good segmentation you have. You can create good automation. It feels like lots of retailers are doing enterprise-style personalization but it’s just what their customers wants.
You want to use your data to build some kind of drip campaign. Not just through email but also through website messages. Using merchandising automation messaging without having a ton of upcycle time if you’ve built segments.
How Do Retailers Use Advanced Marketing Automation?
Do you think there is room, outside of the top 100, that maybe there is some hesitation. With automation, people think there is a bunch of if/then statements and I have to do it right. DO you think there is hesitation?
I think that’s interesting.
Like most things, we fear what we don’t know. We’ve seen a lot of retailers don’t know what data they have access to already. Retailers not going into their website to pull analytics to see how customers are shopping. The basics aren’t getting covered and knowing what data is available. When you see everything that’s available, you naturally want to jump right in and do everything. And it’s very complicated. It’s exciting but it’s not necessary.
Sometimes that MVP—minimum viable product—is enough. You can keep it simple without all of the AI and predictive analytics. Chris, what do you think?
I think the fear is that maybe it comes from wanting to know what to do with this.
What do I do? What do I set up? But let the data tell you what to craft and automation strategies.
The second part is if and when you get into this, it’s a lot simpler now than it used to be. A lot less intimidating to go in and set up these automations. That being said, you don’t want to go hardcore and set up extremely complex things right away.
Right. And if you take the idea that email campaigns with personalization are 3x more likely to convert, no matter how big or small your list is, you’re probably closing more than the batch and blast mentality. It’s definitely changing with cookieless marketing. I think companies are going to push more to make marketing easier.