Two human heads silhouette talking through speech bubbles. conversational marketing abstract
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With the evolution of privacy regulations — GDPR, the data reform bill, the elimination of third-party cookies, and things like app and email open tracking blocks by Apple — there is an opportunity for marketers to move beyond tracking and retargeting and improve how businesses engage with customers, making the overall experience better, richer and most importantly driven by the customer.

‘Cookies’ — or tracking technology — have always been something marketers have relied on to deliver customers with personalised advertisements. They have long been the standard as it gives marketers detailed visibility into performance, and allows ad platform algorithms to optimize and significantly reduce the cost of customer acquisition. But it's intrusive, and the customer is a passive participant.

The Use of Third-Party Cookies

Currently, brands are using third-party cookies and retargeting to engage with customers and gather slithers of data, but it’s mostly one sided. Third-party tracking involves data that’s not owned by the website you’re on – and it’s used after you leave. Let’s say you’re visiting a retailer's website and look at a camera, and then you go to another retailer and see that same camera in an ad in your sidebar. That’s a third-party cookie tracking your internet habits. Firefox and Safari no longer support third-party tracking, and Google has announced they’ll follow suit with plans to sunset third-party cookies in 2024.

With the sunsetting of third-party cookies, marketers will no longer have access to vast pools of third-party data, meaning a limited number of platforms where advertising data can join together. The result? Tech giants becoming even more powerful. There is an opportunity though, 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 hone in on these aspects and ensure they have a strategy in place that capitalises on these previously overlooked methods of data collection.

A Shift in Consumer Behavior

Without browser and device data, marketers must find other means to deliver great customer experiences and help businesses deliver the right messaging to their customers across any channel. 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.

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.

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 personalization, 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.

Kicking Off Commercial Commerce

This type of overhaul can seem daunting. It helps to break it down into different areas of focus, so you and your team can work through step by step. But you should always start at the customer and work backward. Think about the types of experiences they will want with you. What their touch points need to be. Which channels do you know they favor? Then take a look at where there are breaks in your current customer experience journey; where are you losing customers in the funnel? Where are their fracture points in your customer service? Check for bottlenecks caused by staffing ratio misalignment.

Document what the ideal journey for your customer could be and then map that to your organization to figure out which are the most important areas to tackle first.

Having an understanding of your customers will help you design an experience that feels natural.

For marketers conversational commerce and conversational marketing 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. It's a 180-degree change from the old way but it's a totally welcome and exciting change!

For more information, visit messagebird.com.