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Why Customers Share Their Data with You in the Cookiepocalypse Era?

The death of the third-party cookie. The” cookiepocalypse.” The cookie has crumbled. It’s the hottest of the hot topics right now: the big move by Google to do away with third-party cookie tracking – not to mention Apple’s privacy changes with iOS 14 – has pulled the rug from under the digital advertising world.

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Of course, all is not lost, with a range of alternative data solutions already coming to the fore. But whether we see Google and Apple’s moves to be truly altruistic or as a power-grab to wrest control of customer data from external parties, one thing is for sure: this doesn’t only impact on the ways we market to customers, it also moves privacy concerns further to the fore for those customers. And that’s no bad thing. 

With all this going on, it’s important to remember the real people behind the data and to consider why should they hand over their data?

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Third-party cookies are the digital equivalent of paparazzi hiding in the bushes, waiting to get a quick snapshot of you through the curtains (what do you mean, you didn’t bother to read the cookie notice they stapled to the tree down the road?). Brands can’t expect people to engage with that. But be open, honest and give your customers something of value, and they will happily give you something in return.

The starting point is recognizing that there needs to be a value exchange – too often we’ve tricked customers into handing over their data or made flawed assumptions based on a limited snapshot of their behavior. Bad data collection practices are only going to end in damage to your brand, the operational headache of endless subject access requests and sky-high unsubscribe rates.

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Front of our marketing mind right now should be why we’re losing third-party cookies: it’s all about the need to be transparent and honest with your customers. So if you want them to share data with you, you need to be clear on what they get in return – and that had better be something worth having.

Retailers will often use points-based loyalty schemes; for publishers, premium content can sit behind customer authentication. At SoPost, we help brands address the value exchange by enabling them to offer a free sample product via their preferred marketing channels. However you do it, the key to capturing valuable data is giving something relevant and valuable in return – which of course, is also a great way to build customer trust and loyalty.

But what is valuable data? It sounds like an obvious question – but much digital advertising has relied on acquisitive hoarding of data at scale, and performance metrics which, while a useful indicator, are prone to fraud and, in any case, don’t necessarily point to success in real terms. So truly valuable data is data that leads to you achieving the real objectives of your campaign, whatever they may be: increased brand awareness, sales uplift, lead generation… And being able to prove success based on that data.

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This all sounds like stating the obvious – and it is. Yet how many of us have fallen into the trap of chasing digital reach without having true insights into who exactly we are reaching? Or those numbers that look great on a spreadsheet but bear no relation to actual ROI – an impression for an impression’s sake. Performance data is useful – but it’s a slippery slope if it doesn’t translate into real-world results.

The key to great data is getting it direct from your audience. Maintain integrity and transparency throughout and offer something in return, and you’re winning. Take SoPost’s powerful product-sampling platform as an example: its power comes from its data capabilities. That’s absolutely about performance metrics – proving the success of your marketing efforts – but it’s also about enabling a relationship with your customers, by offering multiple opportunities to engage and share insights throughout the user journey.

The gold standard here is zero-party data. This customer data is the deepest, BEST data you can get, even better than first-party data – rather than being based on a user’s actions and behaviors, zero-party data is actively and willingly shared by users, making it super reliable and accurate. This has been our focus with SoPost Communities: by allowing Community members to claim relevant samples by filling out a personal profile, we’re not only offering a highly effective product-sampling channel, but have also created the perfect zero-party data-capture engine – asking members to share data on their preferences and characteristics in exchange for free products.

One door closes, another opens: the demise of third-party cookies is an upheaval. But it’s also a chance to find better ways to get in front of the right audience. Get it right and you’ll get a better audience – and an audience that trusts you and is happy to share with you.

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