Cracking the customer loyalty code in a cookieless world

Paradox sign

Late last year, Google announced that they will further delay restricting third-party cookies until 2024. Some marketers may have experienced a collective sigh of relief. Some may have even kicked the can down the road, those who are still heavily relying on cookie data for marketing.

According to Econsultancy, while 71 percent marketers believe that a third-party cookieless future will significantly impact their organisations, only 30 percent have a strategy to deal with it. Driving personalisation while ensuring data privacy is a challenge for many.

Customers continue to expect more personalised brand experiences, which have shown to correlate with their loyalty. In the absence of a holistic solution and strategy in place, countering the cookie apocalypse is proving to be a hard puzzle to solve.

The Value paradox

Trust and value are non-negotiable components for driving customer loyalty, as it is a core instinct to be loyal only to the ones who have shown and proven to be trustworthy. It is therefore only logical to deliver trust and value in return for this loyalty. So, what is the paradox?

Customers today are increasingly conscious of sharing their data, and yet expect personalised experiences. Often, data is needed to deliver to their expectations, and this is the Value Paradox: Expecting more relevant experiences that are based on shared customer information while being increasingly hesitant to share this information in the first place.

To create meaningful customer experiences with the promise of customer privacy, organisations must build on first-party data with fair consent. Since the first-party data comes directly from your customer as a result of your interactions with them, this makes you the first owner of this data.

The fundamental question remains, how do you build a robust first-party data strategy and deliver value while retaining the customer trust?

Here are five strategies that you can consider embracing to take a lead in future-proofing your data strategy.

1. Define a purpose-driven first-party data strategy
There is an explosion of data storage in organisations and yet it’s a struggle to properly identify data sources and classify them against their intended purposes. Audit your data assets with a focus on delivering customer experiences.

According to a study by BCG and Google, the ability for organisations to deliver a meaningful experience through data-driven consumer insight can increase revenue by 20 percent—yet 44 percent do not feel they are offering the right value for consumer data.

Ask yourself—what do you want your customer experience to be and how does it relate to your company’s objective? This will help you define what data is essential and what is nice to have. Capturing data that is purpose-driven is different from capturing first-party data just because. Prioritise mapping your customer journey and work backwards towards data that’s needed to power those journeys.

2. Be bold, be transparent
To provide value for your customers, try co-creating with non-marketing teams and your customers. By working closely with non-marketing teams, for example, your data analysts, you will ensure that data-based learning is applied.

By listening to your customer's feedback or requests you will ensure the content is relevant to them. Test and experiment with your content and features. Listen to your data to understand what works and optimise accordingly.

Don’t hide behind complex interfaces or abstract language when asking for consent. Help customers understand their data choices and simplify the messaging around consent and cookies—underline this with strong data governance. Your customers deserve to know why and how you use their data, in a non-technical way. Transparency is often the first step in building trust.

3. Offer value with unique experiences
One of the core needs of every human being is to feel valued and that is no different when speaking about customers. You share information with the people and organisations you trust. It’s a give and take.

In business context, that means you should deliver fair value for your customer's data. You can do so by designing loyalty programs and exclusive offers with the intention to deliver better customer outcomes, rather than solely focusing on data capturing. Unfortunately, many loyalty programs out there offer little to no value to the customers. Therefore, ask yourself if yours was set up with the sole intention of capturing as much additional data as possible, or was it to create a real customer benefit that differentiates you from other competitors?

In a competitive environment, a focus on experience—from initial interaction, all the way through to proposition delivery—is vital for customer retention. It’s all about how you can give back to your customers to gain their trust and actual insights in return.

4. Lead with ethics
There is no single solution to support customer requests for increased privacy. Data cooperatives and user-owned privacy controls are on the rise. Data Ethics Regulations in Europe and the US are evolving and so are customer expectations for brand transparency.

Organisations are open about their mission and objectives—it’s time to take this further and bring data ethics into the mix. There is a unique opportunity today to lead in this area and build data ethics policies which explain how data is captured, stored, and used across your organisation.

Not only does it make it transparent to your customers, but it also serves as a North star for internal teams to operate. It is a strategic endeavor in a rapidly evolving world that will serve to protect your organisation and your customers.

5. Be ready to adapt and transform
To be an early adopter of a first-party data strategy, your organisation will need to activate a top-down approach across the three pillars – People, Process, and Technology.

A word of caution—while technology is extremely important for your data strategy, missing out on the first two pillars will hamper your growth in the long run. You need the right people, with the right skill set, to execute data governance. With new skills and people, new operating models are needed to ‘run and operate’ the new processes. Organisation design and operating models should not be an afterthought but serve as the oil which makes the processes run smoothly.

Luckily, you are not alone in this journey. You can partner with Adobe Professional Services and learn how we work with our customers to adopt a first-party data mindset, drive value, and bring exceptional customer experiences to life. Contact us.

Author bios:

Ankur Mehrotra, Senior Multi-Solution Architect, Adobe Professional Services

Ankur Mehrotra is a Senior Multi Solution Architect in the Adobe Professional Services team. He provides the expertise organisations need to move forward in today’s digital landscape. With over 15 years of experience in marketing technology, data, and digital strategy, he has helped leading Adobe’s EMEA customers navigate the world of marketing transformation and deliver exceptional digital experiences.

He is also a member of W3C’s Privacy Community Group and IAB’s Rearc Addressability Working Group. Ankur is passionate about the intersection of data privacy, user-centricity, and future marketing technology.

Nicole Glauser, Engineering Manager, Adobe Professional Services

Nicole Glauser has been a partner in the transformation journey of key Adobe customers. With her expertise in personalisation at scale and knowledge of industries such as banking, telecom, and travel, she has been able to help clients accelerate their time to value.

Nicole has been with Adobe Consulting for over five years and has led some of the largest clients in EMEA as a Business Consultant. Currently she works as Engineering Manager at Adobe supporting her team to build the products of the future. She uses her background in marketing to connect technology and business needs. She puts the customer in the focus, as she knows that trust is a currency like no other.