Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar? Leveraging first-party data for deeper customer loyalty

With Google and Apple's recent privacy-focused decisions, driven by urgent industry-wide privacy concerns, the importance of ethical data practices has become more apparent, writes Abhijat Shukla, Vice President - Data Science at WebEngage.

By  Storyboard18May 22, 2024 8:53 AM
Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar? Leveraging first-party data for deeper customer loyalty
Real-life examples like Perfora's are the best way to learn about airtight segmentation and personalization strategies in action. The e-commerce brand saw a remarkable 8X spike in conversions by effectively harnessing first-party data and delivering hyper-relevant experiences across the customer journey, writes Abhijat Shukla, Vice President - Data Science at WebEngage.

In today's ever-changing digital landscape, the proverbial "cookies" that have long been the backbone of targeted advertising are rapidly disappearing. Browser manufacturers and regulatory bodies have been coming down hard on the use of 3rd party cookies, and players like Google and Apple have been phasing out the use of said cookies. While Google’s plans for a total phase-out have slowed down in its tracks, the fact remains that brands have a choice to make - adapt or risk falling behind.

However, this upheaval in the traditional data environment provides a unique opportunity for intelligent organizations to rethink their customer relationships and achieve unprecedented growth. The solution is to embrace first-party data, which brands can directly obtain from their consumer interactions. Having spent a sizable amount of time in the marketing sphere, relying entirely on 0 or First-Party data, I have witnessed first-hand the powerful impact it can have on brands’ customer engagement, resulting in the creation of a dedicated band of loyal customers and brand evangelists.

What’s out there for first-party data users?

Trust - the cornerstone of sustainable customer engagement

Consider this scenario- you speak to a friend about a product or brand, and suddenly you find that brand staring you squarely in the face the next time you open Instagram, and a sense of wariness befalls you when you realize “oh my god, my phone is listening to me”! Or this - receiving something as simple as a WhatsApp message from a Brand you have never engaged with actively. This is the essence of what retargeted brand campaigns on the basis of 3rd party cookies look like. While this gives the brand an aura of ‘omnipresence’ among consumers, it is problematic in that it can easily produce the sense of a breach or transgression on the part of a brand which can quickly catapult into a mistrust of the brand.

The use of 0 or first-party data presumes that brands seek permission, allowing consumers to willingly provide information about themselves, after having established that they would like to hear from them. This simple act speaks volumes for a brand’s sense of propriety, respect, and empathy for their consumers’ boundaries and their will. This can have a profound impact on fostering trust, which in simple terms is the brand’s greatest currency.

Irresistible campaigns, richer engagement

Companies can generate as much as 40 percent more revenue from personalization says a McKinsey report. As third-party cookies decline, organizations must prioritize authentic connections with their consumer base. First-party data offers detailed insights into audience interests, behaviors, and pain points, providing a foundation for hyper-personalized campaigns. Unlike generic targeting, first-party data enables individualized messages and product recommendations, driving higher engagement and conversion rates. For example, Perfora, an oral care brand, boosts conversations and average order values by tailoring product recommendations based on user behavior.

60 percent of consumers say they’ll become repeat customers after a personalized shopping experience. Real-life examples like Perfora's are the best way to learn about airtight segmentation and personalization strategies in action. The e-commerce brand saw a remarkable 8X spike in conversions by effectively harnessing first-party data and delivering hyper-relevant experiences across the customer journey. Strategies like these allow brands to foster deeper connections with customers and build long-lasting loyalty.

Another example to look at is India Circus by Krsnaa Mehta, a lifestyle brand under Godrej Ventures. Their introduction of personalized reminders for previously viewed products resulted in an astounding 874 percent surge in unique conversions, surpassing the performance of a control group.

A McKinsey report reveals that 78 prcent of customers favour brands offering personalized experiences and 89% of marketers see a positive ROI when they use personalization in their campaigns. Effective segmentation is vital for tailored customer experiences. By using first-party data, brands can categorize their audience into specific segments based on behaviors, preferences, and purchase histories. This deep understanding enables personalized approaches, like expediting purchases, recommending tailored products, or offering customized loyalty programs.

Customers feeling understood by a brand are more likely to become repeat buyers, vocal advocates, or brand ambassadors. Effective segmentation allows hyper-customized touchpoints, and closer connections, and aligns strategies with audience preferences, fostering loyalty and growth. Moreover, first-party data offers insights beyond individuals, aiding strategic decisions in product development, marketing optimization, and long-term growth.

Laying the foundation for lasting loyalty

In addition, the benefits of first-party data extend beyond campaign optimization, laying the framework for long-term consumer loyalty. Understanding your consumer's specific requirements and behaviors enables you to adjust your entire brand experience to match their changing expectations. Loyalty however is a complex beast, where on one hand the benefits afforded by First-party data are no doubt invaluable, a strong trust factor is equally critical for fostering long-term loyalty and brand advocacy.

Navigating the transition

Although switching from third-party to first-party data may seem difficult, brands can confidently make the switch with the appropriate strategy. Here are some crucial tactics to think about:

● Invest in a strong infrastructure for data collection and management: Make sure your company has the instruments and procedures needed to properly collect, store, and evaluate first-party data.

● Put trust and openness first: Give customers control over their information and be transparent with them about your data collecting and usage policies.

● Boost the use of progressive profiling Create a thorough consumer profile over time by gradually gathering information from several touchpoints.

● Work together with partners: Investigate strategic alliances with like-minded companies or service providers to improve your ecosystem of first-party data.

● Iterate and optimize continuously: To stay up to date with changing consumer preferences and industry trends, review and improve your first-party data tactics on a regular basis.

Data undoubtedly forms the backbone of modern marketing strategies, but it's crucial to handle it responsibly. With Google and Apple's recent privacy-focused decisions, driven by urgent industry-wide privacy concerns, the importance of ethical data practices has become more apparent. There is a clear trend on the boycott of third-party cookies and an increasing focus on consumer privacy which has led brands to invest in first-party data systems. Brands are more conscious of their relationships with their customers that are now based on trust and transparency. This will further solidify their relationship with their customers and pave the way for long-term success and growth. As we move forward, the message is clear: the time to invest in first-party data systems is now, ensuring a solid foundation for future growth and resilience in the ever-changing digital ecosystem.

First Published on May 22, 2024 8:46 AM

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