Cookies and Layer Cakes - How an Increased Focus on First-Party Data Could Be the Recipe for Success in Delivering an Amazing Omnichannel Customer Experience.

How an increased focus on first-party data could be the recipe for success in delivering an amazing omnichannel customer experience.

By 2023 the demise of third-party cookies will become complete. Consumers have become increasingly mistrustful of how their personal identifiable information (PII) or personal data is used, and the advent of CCPA, GDPR and other data protection laws have shone a light on this. Since there is no way for consumers to control where and how their personal data is used, it could be said that we have all lost our appetite for third-party cookies.

“Users are demanding greater privacy — including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used — and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands,” Google announced in a blog post in January 2021.

Google Chrome, which holds the largest market share, will follow other major browsers and finally cancel third-party cookies in 2023 - delayed from their original goal of the beginning of 2022. (For more information on third-party cookies and how they work, see this article.) This has huge implications for advertisers and content publishers alike but, from a data management point of view, for B2B and B2C organisations the good news is that first-party cookies are not going away. There is a huge opportunity to optimise the usage of this first-party information to drive truly omnichannel digital transformation throughout your enterprise. In this article we’ll take a look at:

  • What the increased emphasis on first-party data and cookies will mean for data management within your global enterprise
  • How to navigate the layer cake of technology choices
  • Why master data management should be the icing on that cake to enhance your customers’ experiences across all channels – not just digital

First-party data and cookies

85% of US marketers and 75% of respondents in Western Europe said that increasing their use of first-party data is a high priority, according to eMarketer. This OnAudience article describes first-party data as:

“The information that companies can collect from their own sources. In other words, every [piece of] information about customers from both online and offline sources, such as the company’s website, app, CRM, social media or surveys.”

First-party data includes demographics, interactions on your website, transactions, PII that has been provided and is used according to relevant Data Protection rules, products and much more. Organisations collect this as prospects and customers interact with channels across their business including online, telephone and face-to-face.

First-party cookies are those used by your own organisation on your own website/s to identify and track your visitors. An article by cookie-script.com describes typical uses for these:

“Those cookies are usually used to identify a user between pages, remember selected preferences, or store your shopping cart. You can hardly find a website nowadays that does not use first-party cookies.”

First-party cookies are not going away and will therefore continue to be a means by which your organisation can (with the right permissions) identify and track visitors with the goal to convert “unknown” digital identities such as IP address information into “known” individuals. This can be done in a variety of ways, for example by inviting someone to agree to provide their name and email address and/or other information in exchange for a piece of content, a product or a service.

This first-party data and information generated by first-party cookies has always been available. However, the end of third-party cookie usage to supplement this information will make the compliant collection and intelligent usage of first-party data even more critical to help your organisation optimise customer experience.

“The Marketoonist sums up the differences between first, second and third-party data in what it calls "the personalisation privacy paradox."  Check out this funny illustration to learn more.”

Navigating the technology layer cake

The tools and solutions that you choose for your business will, in large part, depend upon a number of factors including the type of organisation you are, the layers of complexity that exist today and any you wish to plan for in the future. The right ingredients for your organisation’s technology recipe will depend on your attitude to risk and on answers to a series of questions that should include:

  • How much control does my business want over its first-party data?
    • Is it acceptable to send it all out to a third party or do we want it to reside within our own organisation?
    • Do we need to make independent decisions about which third-party data providers we use and when we use them?
    • Do I want to send my entire data set out to be matched every time I do a new campaign, or would I like to be able to benefit from having done that for the majority of my data before?
    • Do I need real-time access and updates to all my data all the time?
  • How much control do we need over the matching of identity?
    • Is matching purely on an email address enough, or do I need to be more extensive than that?
    • What is the cost to my business of getting identity wrong?
    • Do I need to be able to reverse that decision at a later date - immediately if necessary?
  • What are my GDPR and data protection obligations?
    • Can I be completely accurate in terms of knowing which third parties have had access to any of our first-party data records?
    • Can I control communication preferences and consents in one centralised place across the business?
    • How will I manage Subject Access Requests (SARs) and Data Service Requests (DSRs) from the end consumer and ensure that all PII is deleted from all systems if I don’t know where it is?

These are some of the technology capability questions your teams will need to ask themselves and, depending on the answers, the solution for your business could be anything from a hand-coded system right through to a multi-product enterprise architecture.

Why MDM is the icing on the cake

The decision many organisations are struggling with right now is whether they need a Master Data Management (MDM) solution. For some, they have taken the view that a Customer Data Platform will meet their needs and for a more detailed overview of the differences and how to choose, please see this excellent Reltio Community Webinar.

For a quick decision on whether or not you should be considering a Master Data Management solution, we invite you to answer Yes or No to the following capability areas by considering the questions below.

  • Omnichannel: Y/N
    • Do my clients need to interact with my employees on the phone (e.g. Service) or face-to-face (e.g. Sales/Installation) at any time or is my business purely digital?
  • Real-Time: Y/N
    • How important is it that the Services and Sales teams have access to the same set of customer data as Marketing, and that it is updated in real-time?
  • Multi-Geo/Global: Y/N
    • Is my business multi-geo/global or does it operate purely in one country or region?
  • Customer 360: Y/N
    • Will my customers expect my organisation to know not just who they are but what products they own/use, where they bought them/use them,what problems they have had with them and their previous purchase history?
  • Relationships and Hierarchies: Y/N
    • Is it important to understand household value (B2C), influencer networks (B2C) or organisational sales/legal/other structures (B2B)?
  • Privacy and Communication Preferences: Y/N
    • Am I concerned about the risk of financial or reputational damage if I cannot manage privacy and communication consent preferences in one central place for each customer I store PII about?

The more times you answer “Yes”, the more compelling the need for your team to consider putting a Reltio master data management solution, known as the Reltio Enterprise 360 Data Platform, at the centre of your data universe.

But we already have a Customer Data Platform (CDP)...

While CDPs specialise in segmentation and activation of data in digital customer records, they do have their drawbacks. Especially if you answered Yes to one or more of the above questions. The reasons are many, including:

  • Most CDPs have only basic matching of people data from the digital sphere e.g. email address
  • They are rarely, if ever, synchronised in real-time to your other enterprise systems
  • For activation to be effective, a CDP must be tailored to a local country or region. Therefore, CDPs cannot be your multi-geography/global customer data repository
  • CDPs only handle data relating to people – not products, locations and service cases
  • CDPs are tools managed and owned by Marketing departments; they are not designed to make your data accessible or useable across your omni-channel business
  • All of the above means that CDPs also cannot be used as an enterprise repository for privacy and communication preferences that is always up-to-date

After many months at home we’ve realised the value of relationships and truly personalised experiences, and our loyalties remain with the organisations that have gone the extra mile to win and retain our business. To find the real sweet spot in your enterprise data you need to cook up the right recipe for your organisation and for your customers. Digital and Physical interaction experiences and the related data have to exist together and complement each other. We have all realised that we are not all purely digital consumers and we desire interaction with each other – including our suppliers and vendors - across multiple channels, not just online.

These organisations are the ones that have trusted, accurate, real-time data – at scale – on their customers and have been able to put it to work across their enterprise – online, over the phone and in person. They are the ones that remember that we are all people first and consumers second but that we all like to have our cake and eat it!

In conclusion

As the time when third-party cookies will disappear for good approaches and businesses come to depend only on first-party data, there is an increasing need to use that data to know, serve and retain your customers like never before. By pairing your customer data platform with Reltio’s master data management solution, the Reltio Enterprise 360 Data Platform, your business will be fully prepared as staff from across the organisation have a complete and up-to-date 360-degree view of customers, their products, their locations, their habits and their preferences, whatever the channel they choose to interact with you and your business.

Reltio + CDP Integration — Deep Customer Profiles to Feed MarTech

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