Every organization wants to achieve a personalized approach to its customers, as it provides endless possibilities to create value for the customer and the company. Now that third-party cookies are being increasingly restricted, the balance between privacy and personalization is coming under the spotlight. As far as I’m concerned, the real purpose of personalization is to enrich the customer’s experience. And when the customer identifies with and feels connected to your company, that immediately creates a space for personal interaction.
The tracking cookie continues to crumble. Firefox and Safari have already deleted third-party cookies. And the browser with the greatest reach, Google Chrome, will join that club by the end of 2024. A looming catastrophe for marketers and advertisers? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, cookies and other tracking or personalization tools are still valuable for capturing preferences and favourite channels. But now they’re mostly used to bag a quick, once-off conversion.
The consumer has become a lot warier and savvier and is unlikely to click on the umpteenth ad that flashes up on social media, apps or websites. Also, careless use of trackers such as cookies is often at the root of a lot that goes wrong, for example in the field of (re)marketing – we’ve all seen ads at that raise our eyebrows – and this is a serious threat to the goodwill the customer has for your company. If you aren’t able to create deep customer engagement, it’s likely that your customers will shift to more transparent and genuinely customer-centric brands.
In my opinion, true personalization means that a company genuinely understands the client and their situation. This brings us to the opt-in of log-in principle – when a brand becomes a ‘love brand’ and people are willing to freely share what’s on their mind with the brand community (peer-to-peer) and with the company itself. This allows you to establish a deeper understanding of the circumstances, ambitions and drivers of the individual customer. You can then develop new, highly relevant offerings (cross-selling) and plan for the customer’s future usage patterns and needs (evolving/maturing customers). Just like choosing a gift for a friend, you first have to get to know what their tastes and interests are.
Think of a sports brand that shares running tips with its fans and offers them a platform where they can share their love of sport with each other. The consumers who trust the brand or platform will be willing to provide access to their location data and other personal information such as height, weight, age and health status. As a reward, they receive a detailed plan of how to achieve their training goals.
That’s why I believe that increased engagement leads to a long-term relationship with the customer. And yes, it’s a kind of reverse thinking. The starting point isn’t about boosting internal sales KPIs, rather it’s about building trust and cocreating a brand community. That will lead to more interaction and gives you the opportunity to generate valuable individual and/or segmented customer insights. Maybe this will feel like a kind of detour to the sales department, but the return will be much greater in the long run.
Another benefit is that the chance of churn is significantly reduced when consumers feel that you are genuinely aligned with their interests. Additionally, companies that are focused on creating value for a planned exit (e.g., those with private equity backing) can reach much higher valuations when they have a loyal customer base behind them. So there’s no need to see stricter regulation of third-party cookies as a limitation, rather as an opportunity to become more customer-oriented and build a lasting, personalized relationship with your customers.
Creating such a community can be done both online and offline – ideally a combination of both. It’s about building a business-supported approach across all channels and with the involvement of every business department. Personalization is clearly a central element of a Unified Commerce approach.