How to Win in Cookieless World as an eCommerce Owner

Written by Marina Vassilyovska 0 Comments
The cat's out of the bag, the bird’s out of the cage, the word’s out of - well, it’s just out - Google is shutting down third-party cookies. And now the whole marketing world is in an uproar.

And it’s no wonder! Shutting down third-party cookies is a big deal, especially when you consider that, in a 2021 survey by Statista, 51% of senior marketers said that they rely heavily on them to build their marketing strategies.

So, what can a senior marketer do now? How can we circumvent this issue, and make up for the absence of cookies? And, most importantly, how to win as an eCommerce owner with the newest changes?

Luckily, we’ve searched far and wide and we believe we’ve got a few answers. Read on and find out how to lessen the impact of Google’s latest changes!

Third-Party Cookies Are Going Away - What Does It Mean?

So, before we start laying down strategies and plans, let’s analyze what does it mean when we say third-party cookies are being discontinued by Google.

Let’s start with explaining the difference between first- and third-party cookies.

First-party cookies are being put in place by the website you’re visiting. They are bits and pieces of info that those websites collect in order to analyze them. This analyzed data then provides the business with insight into how a visitor behaves and what preferences they have.

In turn, these cookies help the website improve the user experience for their visitors. This is extremely important, as 88% of users are very likely to cease interacting with a website, and the business altogether, if they have a negative experience when visiting that business’s website.

When it comes to third-party cookies, they essentially function the same way, except they’re placed onto a website by an outside party. Say a website is running ads - those ads are probably embedded with cookies from an ad agency this website is using.

And here is the real problem - you might find a website you’re visiting trustworthy, but you might not trust the outsider. These third-party cookies might be vulnerable to data breaches, or might be malicious, to begin with. As such, they can be quite prone to abuse.

This is, essentially, why Google is shutting them down. Ever since the fiasco with Facebook data collection practices, cyber security and privacy are being held in ever-higher regard, and the regulations are tightening across the world.

First-Party Cookies Will Carry Your Strategy

With third-parties being gone, your strategy will now rely solely on first-party cookies.

As we said, cookies are essential in collecting vital data that drive a business. They’re especially important for PPC (pay per click) firms, and you can bet that the top PPC agencies will be working hard in the coming days to utilize first-partiers to their full extent.

One of the ways this can be done is through Google’s global site tags. Site-wide tagging is going to be key when it comes to integrating your website into Google Analytics, and getting accurate data upon which to build your marketing strategy.

Another reason to use Google’s site tags is to measure conversions. Third-party cookies were always the leading go-to parameter when it came to gathering and analyzing data on conversions, but now, this will have to be done through first-partiers, and these global tags will help greatly with that.

Finally, the greatest advantage of first-party cookies is the quality of marketing, rather than quantity, so to speak. Prudent businesses will begin focusing more on their niche and the customers within that niche, instead of relying on the network third-parties create to reach the maximum number of people.

Automation - The Future Is Now

A growing aspect of digital marketing is automation. Though not a new concept, it is becoming more important in recent years, and giants such as Meta are moving toward implementing it in all levels of their business.

Third-parties in combination with automation were a powerful engine for any business, driving their traffic, as well as conversions. Now, with third-party cookies about to bite the dust, marketers will have to rethink how to effectively use automation.

What we’re likely to see is the return of some more traditional forms of marketing and marketing automation. Contextual marketing might become more prominent, as well as web push notifications.

The reason for this is simple: neither of these requires any form of cookies or personal information to be given to a website, and they’re much less invasive and garish than ads that pop up everywhere due to cross-site third-party cookies tracking your every move.

On the other hand, email and SMS marketing might start taking a back seat. These were some of the best strategies in a marketer’s arsenal, especially in combination with a CRM (customer relation manager) platform like Salesforce which has an extensive email services integration system.

Just look in your Gmail inbox - you are sure to find hundreds, if not thousands, of emails from all the online stores you’ve visited. And it’s no wonder - according to Forbes, 79% of businesses interviewed in their 2020 survey said that email marketing is very important for their success.

However, with third-party cookies being phased out, these strategies might not be as viable anymore, and businesses will have to, instead of carpet-bombing their email list, concentrate on a smaller number of people that are most relevant to their products or services.

Targeting in a Cookieless World

Of course, one of the greatest concerns when it comes to Google’s new policy is how to handle audience targeting. Third-party cookies offered a wide coverage in this regard, as businesses could target a vast number of people, thus hoping to bring some of them to the fold.

That being said, this will have to change. Companies and businesses will have to adopt new strategies that don’t involve cookies or make heavy use of first-parties. Instead of large-scale marketing campaigns, we’re very likely to see smaller, more personalized approaches to marketing.

Here, it would seem machine learning will be of great use. Machine learning and AI could help analyze data collected across websites more quickly and efficiently, and it doesn’t require cookies to run. Machine learning has been a growing part of the new marketing strategies, but now it seems it will become an absolutely invaluable tool.

We already mentioned the importance of user experience, and how positive UX has great benefits for a business. With the third-party cookies removed, websites will have to find different ways of improving it and making a more personal experience for their visitors.

One of the best ways to do this is with a simple live chat feature. People like it when their chosen brand talks to them - it gives them a sense that they care. Live chat doesn’t require cookies to run, but lets you gain a good insight into your customers’ behavior and preferences through the questions they tend to ask.

Another trick up marketers’ sleeves that is likely to gain more prominence is geotargeting. Though not used that often in the industry, geo-targeting might become more relevant, especially in combination with the rising importance of first-party cookies.

Geotargeting is a great way of reaching a local audience. Reaching out in your local area was always a good marketing strategy, especially for smaller businesses. It helps form a kind of community around your business and product, which goes a long way toward retaining customers in the long run.

Attribution Without Cookies

One of the major areas in data collection that is being hit is attribution. More importantly, we’re talking about MTA (multi-touch attribution), and it's inevitably phasing out of relevance.

MTA has been a driving force in data collection for a long time. It allowed businesses to see which ads and which strategies brought in the most customers. However, since cookies are likely to be shut down, companies will no longer be able to measure accurately which ad brings in the most traffic/conversions across the entire ad chain.

That doesn’t mean MTA will be phased out entirely. MTA can still work within closed ecosystems, i.e. within a single website. First-party cookies will still allow for the usage of this method, it’s just not going to be as important as it used to be.

Instead, we’ll see the rise of incrementality as a way to replace MTA. Incrementality requires no cookies to work, and it can delve into some questions MTA was never able to answer, making it the perfect solution for a post-cookie world.

Wrapping It Up

All in all, the end of third-party cookies is the end of marketing as we know it. The stir it’s causing is very much justified, but it’s nowhere near the apocalyptic event some make it out to be.

With that said, prudence and foresight will be the key in the coming years. A good business will start shifting their marketing strategies now, so when third-party cookies eventually get shut down, they won’t have to scramble to find a new way to get that sweet data that is so vital for their success.

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About the Author

Marina Vassilyovska is the Chief Storyteller at Kualo. She’s a big fan of digital storytelling, but she’s also very passionate about environmental protection and often volunteers in relevant initiatives. You can also spot her on WordCamps on local meetups, where she’s always up for a chat.