By Rachel Thornton, Chief Marketing Officer, MessageBird
We all already know that Firefox and Safari no longer support third-party tracking. But come 2024 Google will also be following suit, with plans to sunset third-party cookies by the end of the year. This may be unnerving to some as third party cookies have, for a long time, been a standard part of digital marketing. They give detailed visibility on performance, enabling ad optimization and helping to reduce the overall cost of customer acquisition. But there is one big problem – most customers do not like them.
However, over the last few years, there has been a very clear evolution of privacy regulations. Changes like GDPR and the data reform bill for instance. This has presented an opportunity for marketers to move beyond the traditional tracking and retargeting we have become accustomed to – to improve how we are engaging with our customers and make their overall experiences better, richer, less intrusive and, most importantly, driven by them!
How does third party tracking work?
Third-party tracking involves data that’s not owned by the website you’re on – and it’s used after you leave. For example, a customer visits Currys to look at a camera. They then head over to John Lewis to check out something else and they are served ads for that same item in their sidebar. It is the third-party cookies gathered from the website they were on, which then causes similar adverts to appear throughout their session.
When third party cookies become a thing of the past, marketers will no longer have access to vast pools of third-party data. This means a limited number of platforms where advertising data can join together. The result? Tech giants becoming even more powerful.
There is however, an opportunity for anyone driving an audience to their website to look at creating better profiles that drive longer term loyalty and engagement. The demise of third-party cookies highlights the importance of zero- and first-party data to marketers. Now is the time for marketers to home in on these aspects and ensure we have a strategy in place that capitalises on these previously overlooked methods of data collection.
What is conversational commerce?
In a recent Facebook Messaging Survey run by Nielsen, 53% of consumers surveyed said they were more likely to shop with a business they can message directly. This highlights an opportunity for marketers to create compelling customer engagement experiences, where customers will reward brands by sharing data if the experience is done correctly. Enter conversational commerce.
Conversational commerce is “the process of selling products and acquiring customers directly on messaging channels”, and it’s changing the way businesses and customers engage with each other. It’s also changing the way marketers develop and deploy campaigns and the way customer service teams interact with a product’s users.
Through the preferences that customers express as part of their direct engagement with brands, businesses will know which channels a customer prefers to receive communications on, the frequency and the content and that in turn helps marketers continue to fine tune their customers’ experience with the brand with the goal of increasing retention and loyalty.
By shifting the focus to personalisation, direct engagement with customers will allow marketers to learn about channel, content and frequency preferences, thus delivering a better experience for both the brand and the consumer. Instead of asking the customer for an email address to notify when a product is back in stock, brands can encourage the customer to enter into a two-way conversation over WhatsApp or via chatbot. By communicating in real time, the customer has an instant answer to their query, building confidence in the brand and increasing the likelihood that they will make a purchase. What’s more, the brand has now collected first party/opt-in compliant data.
Getting on board with conversational commerce
Overhauling your marketing strategy is a daunting feat. But whatever you decide to implement, you should always start at the customer and work backwards. Having an understanding of your customer’s will help you design an experience that feels natural to them.
- What types of experiences will they want?
- What will their touch points need to be?
- Which channels do they use?
Next, take a look at where there are breaks in the current customer experience journey;
- Where are you losing customers in the funnel?
- Where are there fracture points in your customer service?
Check for any bottlenecks throughout that process too. Document what the ideal journey for your customer could be and then map that to your organisation to figure out which are the most important areas to tackle first.
For marketers conversational commerce is a 180 degree change from the old way but it’s a totally welcome and exciting change! It makes valuable data capture much more natural and enables brands to provide customers with the high quality experience they deserve – a win for both sides.