What will happen when the cookies crumble?
Creating an effective B2B marketing strategy that doesn't use third-party cookies
ABMonday is a blog series that aims to generate awareness and educate on Account Based Marketing best practices and related topics. We are kicking off the series with a topic that is currently on everyone's mind: the end of third-party cookies. This blog is our second post on the subject. Keep reading to learn more about the impact the demise of third-party cookies will have on B2B marketers and potential solutions we can consider implementing in order to adapt.
Google recently announced that it will stop the use of third-party cookies in Chrome by the end of 2023, meaning the third-party cookies that many B2B marketers depend on are quickly becoming obsolete.
For more information on what cookies are and why they’re going away, check out our first blog in this series, “Breaking Up with Third-Party Cookies”.
One of the core principles of marketing in the 21st century is that personalization is key. We’ve known for years that the batch-and-blast, spray-and-pray approach isn’t effective. Today’s B2B buyer is more informed than ever and has already done their research. As a result, they not only expect but demand to see content that is relevant to them, in the right place and at the right time.
But since we rely on third-party cookies to help us deliver personalized buying experiences through digital advertising, retargeting and more, marketers around the globe have been left scrambling to figure out how to develop effective strategies without them. Digital marketers are now at a crossroads where they can either be overwhelmed by these significant changes or choose adapt to them.
What's next for B2B marketers?
In a world without third-party cookies, marketers will need to find a new way to identify people online so they can continue to create meaningful segments, deliver personalized ads and collect insights on their buyers. While third-party identifiers have their advantages, recognizing their limitations creates the opportunity to implement a smart approach to identity marketing that depends primarily on first-party customer data. Digital campaigns based on owned data tend to be more successful not only because the data is more reliable (not to mention future-proof, since it is consensually given), but also because that data is typically obtained in exchange for something of value to the customer, which establishes trust.
“One (benefit) is that it solves the identifier problem of third-party cookies going away. If we're capturing an email address, where we've shown a mutually beneficial value exchange early in the relationship, we can leverage that identifier and pass information into the ad tech ecosystem. A first-party data approach also allows us to engage directly with our customers, and lessen our reliance on third party aggregations and the assumptions being made about the audience. As we own the data, we can start segmenting our audiences and serving them with personalized content, product, services, and communications.”
Zachary Faruque, One Trust Preference Choice Offering Manager
Fortunately, thanks to recent developments in technology, creating relevant experiences that offer value to the customer is easier than ever. For example, conversational marketing platforms like Drift, powered by chatbots, can provide an engaging way to collect customer data and help anonymous visitors convert into known prospects faster. Chatbots are proven to deliver higher conversion rates than traditional web forms, since they help website visitors find the information they’re looking for and put them in touch with the right people instantly.
Content hubs are also an effective tool for B2B marketers to provide value-adding experiences to their potential customers. Content repository tools like Überflip or Folloze allow marketers to deliver tailored, targeted content at every step of the buyer’s journey, ensuring potential customers are only seeing information that’s relevant to them.
"I also really challenge publishers to think about value exchange differently and having a tiered offering, such as a premium piece of content, like a live event. Or something downloadable, such as an infographic. Consumers are more apt to share data for something of value in return.''
Lexie Knauer, Senior Product Marketing Manager at video publishing platform – provider Brightcove
What actions can B2B marketers take to address third-party cookie deprecation?
- Take control of your first-party data: By facilitating mutual and ongoing value exchanges with consumers, companies can become less dependent on third parties and collect, store and use first-party data that consumers have agreed to provide instead. CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) like Twilio Segment, Adobe CDP and 6sense give marketers an easy way to collect and synthesize customer information across touchpoints in real time and analyze it so that actionable insights can be used to create meaningful segments for targeted, personalized campaigns.
- Democratize unified customer data to all teams that need it: Marketers should also work to create a unified view of each individual customer, while also making that data readily accessible to cross-functional teams when and where they need it so they can personalize experiences and drive business growth.
- Mitigate the complexities of data management: Look for technology that not only offers a simpler, more centralized way to manage first-party data collection across sites, but that also insulates you from future browser privacy changes.
- Gather and leverage intent data: Consider implementing technology that analyzes online behaviors to understand when a potential customer is interested in your product or service. Platforms like Bombora, Cyance and Slintel pick up on buying signals that would otherwise be anonymous to deliver powerful intent data, which is much more effective than third-party cookie data when it comes to determining which accounts are in-market and reaching them at the right time.
The demise of third-party cookies might present a real challenge to our digital marketing strategies in the short term. Until recently, traditional B2B marketing has been heavily focused on the individual. And considering third-party cookies track behavioral and demographic data for individuals, it makes sense that we have been so dependent on them until now.
However, if we’re looking from a long-term perspective, becoming more reliant on first-party data actually presents marketers with an excellent opportunity become more independent, to get to know their customers in a more meaningful way, and to improve upon their current processes and adopt new ones.
There is plenty of data available demonstrating that B2B audiences are changing – so maybe it’s about time that B2B marketers changed as well. As Scott Vaughn, Chief Growth Officer at Integrate, pointed out in an interview with LeadFabric, B2B buyers are only spending about 5 to 6% of their research time actually engaging directly with brand representatives. The rest of their journey is done online, mostly anonymously.
Click here to watch the complete interview series with Scott Vaughn and learn more about how B2B buyers and audiences are changing.
Is the future of B2B marketing account-based?
Another important consideration is that the majority of B2B purchasing decisions are not made by one person. Marketing to only one member of a larger buying group is like trying to put together a puzzle with only one piece.
That means now might be the perfect time to transition to an ABM (Account Based Marketing) approach. Focusing on accounts rather than individuals means that third-party cookies are no longer an essential piece of the digital marketing strategy. Instead, marketers can leverage intent data and more meaningful signals into campaigns that address the entire buying group, while offering personalized, customer-centric experiences that provide real value to the prospect at every step.
Stay tuned for next week’s post to learn more about ABM and how to get a program started. And if you'd like to have a conversation about ABM right away, don’t hesitate to contact us.