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Digital Marketing and How to Navigate the Cookie-Less Web

By Fraser Reeves 12.04.22

Whether you're a business owner or marketing professional, navigating the cookie-less web and privacy-first Digital Marketing can be complicated (albeit necessary). However, in this article, we explore how to adapt your digital marketing strategies accordingly so that you can have peace of mind when it comes to your data. Introducing the new web The new web is here, and it's cookie-less. That means that the days of using cookies to track user behavior and deliver targeted ads are numbered. So what does that mean for digital marketing? Simply put, digital marketing will have to adapt. Marketers will need to find new ways to reach their audiences and deliver the messages that they want to hear. One way to do this is through first-party data. This is data that you collect yourself, through things like surveys or website registrations. This data can give you a better understanding of who your audience is and what they want. Another way to reach your audience is through contextually-targeted advertising. This is where you use information about the user's current context - like their location or the time of day - to deliver relevant ads. Lastly, don't forget about good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. In a cookie-less world, referrals from friends and family (a.k.a. communities) will become even more important - trust and credibility factors trump promises and benefits. Now, more than ever, your brand visibility and positioning are important, just as your brand story is, so embrace the new web and start building a community around it. First-party data: Building your brand When it comes to digital marketing, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the importance of first-party data. In a cookie-less world, first-party data will become even more valuable as it can't be shared or sold to third parties. Building your brand means creating strong relationships with your customers and prospects. It's about connecting with them on a deeper level and understanding their needs and wants. This means thinking strategically about how you can leverage owned channels (e.g. email, organic, social) and earned media to build your customer and prospect base. Some tactical examples include: - Incorporate OPA (Other Peopler's Audiences) into your content and PR strategies by exploring opportunities to align with another more established brand in your market that caters to your audience or a niche within your target market. This could be in the form of podcasts, guest blog series or email series, or co-publishing an ebook on a relevant topic. - Participate more actively on Social channels. This doesn't mean posting more often. It means joining in on the conversations, replying to customers and prospects, and sharing and resharing posts that you know your audience will engage with. Growing your first-party data means you can create more targeted and personalized marketing messages. You can also use it to develop new products and services that better meet the needs of your target audience. Taking a privacy-first approach to your CRM building and marketing will put you in good stead to weather whatever disruptive trend is to follow. Own your data. Own your future. 4 practical steps you can take right now Although we can expect to see third-party cookie tracking disappear in the near future, there are a number of conventional methods that brands are using right now to mitigate the effects this change will have on data and performance measurement. 1. Tag your links. Tagging your links with UTM parameters will help you track where users are coming from and what they’re doing on your site. This is especially important if you’re using paid advertising, as you’ll want to know which ads are driving traffic and conversions. Try this free tool from Google - you can even shorten your URLs for easy trackability and user-friendliness. 2. Manage your server logs. If you have access to your server logs, you can use them to track user activity on your site without cookies. This data can be helpful for understanding how users interact with your site and where they come from. 3. Consider alternative web analytics tools. There are a number of web analytics tools that don’t rely on cookies, including the likes of Piwik and NZ's own Matomo who offer server log analytics as discussed above. 4. Explore data recovery solutions. There are an increasing number of providers emerging that provide a way to recover user data for more accurate attribution and performance modelling. NZ-founded Rescue Metrics enables brands to avoid data loss via a first-party server from the likes of ad-blockers and browser privacy measures which are becoming more common. Similarly, Triple Whale provides a first-party pixel solution for e-commerce brands to enhance attribution and shop performance insights. How prepared is your brand for the privacy-first future? We can expect privacy measures to tighten over the next couple of years. Browsers, apps, social media platforms, and website platforms are already well on the way to removing cookies altogether - the next big change to come will be Google’s Chrome browser dropping cookies in 2023 (delayed from 2022). That makes the market ripe for innovation but equally it offers an opportunity for brands, especially those in scale mode, to get their data strategies in top shape. Don’t wait for a silver bullet. Start embedding these practices now and future-proof your digital marketing - it’s going to matter more than you realise in a world where brand trumps hype.

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