• Navid Nassiri

How to build a future-proof marketing strategy

Most marketers agree that leveraging first-party data is the answer to Google’s sunsetting of third-party cookies, but many are still not prepared for the upcoming changes.


In a recent study from Credera, over half of CMOs across the US and UK (51%) either ‘haven’t started yet’ or still have ‘a lot of work to do’ to refocus efforts on first-party data collection. For almost a third, the reason for this inertia was due to them having ‘other higher priority things to do.’


While the shift away from a reliance on third-party data may not seem like a priority right now - especially given Google’s latest delay - those who fail to prepare are likely to see a significant downturn in their customer engagement and conversions once the third-party cookie is gone.


So, why is first-party data so important and what can marketing leaders do to minimize disruption to their business sooner rather than later?


Putting first-party data first


Third-party data has historically offered a quick fix to targeting, providing large data sets and ready-made insights on audience behaviors and patterns (albeit not as accurate as its first-arty counterpart). But to survive and thrive once third-party cookies have been sunsetted, marketers need to be proactively developing a first-party data strategy.


First-party data can empower brands to create content that’s highly relevant to their audience, responding directly to the information provided by the customer, rather than leaning on assumed - but certainly not accurate - insights based on third-party data patterns.


This timeliness and relevance presents real value for the customer, therefore strengthening their relationship with the brand and offering a greater return in the long run.


Here are some key principles to consider when starting out:


  1. Create a value exchange - data sharing should be valuable to the business and the customer. Marketers need to rethink what type of data they’re collecting from their audience and how they’re using it to improve the CX.

  2. Build relationships, not just databases - while first-party data will be crucial for businesses to succeed, that shouldn’t mean hounding customers for their information at every opportunity. Instead, focus on building genuine relationships.

  3. Grow trust through transparency - be clear about what data the company is collecting and how it will be used.

  4. Give the customer control - customers should be able to see what personal data is being stored in order to personalize their experience, and have the power to revoke it if they wish

  5. Supplement first-party data - while first-party data is key, there will be opportunities to supplement it with brand-safe partnerships such as data clean rooms.


These principles will help to develop a robust first-party data strategy, but the key is not to wait for the green light from Google; collecting and processing data can be a long and challenging process.


First-party data - gathered directly from customers such as email addresses, purchase history, and online behavior - is arguably becoming the gold standard for marketers. Used to its full potential, it enables businesses to comply with privacy laws and create leaner marketing plans, which in turn will reduce cost and resource.


But if a first-party data strategy can help to combat the loss of third-party cookies, why are over half of CMOs delaying the transition?


The road to readiness


Despite acknowledging they need to act, over four-fifths of CMOs (83%) admit that they are struggling to integrate and analyze their data effectively, due to reasons that we hear from enterprise marketing teams every day:


  • ‘our data isn’t joined up’ (28%)

  • ‘our tech isn’t joined up to enable visibility in one place’ (25%)

  • ‘we don’t know how to analyze our data’ (28%)


Therefore, the first step is to go back to basics and evaluate how the company is collecting data in the first place, and how the marketing team can extract valuable insights from it. Part of this will involve upskilling teams to get a better grasp on their data, while putting the relevant processes in place to protect data security.


In the long run, those who leverage this extra time to transition away from third-party cookies - by developing and stress-testing their first-party data strategies - will do far better than those who wait until there’s no other option.


If you’re struggling to join or analyze your first-party marketing data, connect with the Switchboard team today.


You can also take a look at our Data Automation and Foundational Data pages to discover how Switchboard helps marketing teams build a more integrated data strategy.