As 3rd-party cookies are phased out over the next two years, the 1st-party data that businesses collect from their customers will play a much larger role in a successful marketing strategy. Organizations of all sizes will need to invest in a scalable marketing technology (martech) stack in order to build customer profiles and gather actionable insights. Here are the basics for companies seeking to future-proof their marketing infrastructure.
Before making any changes, it’s important to understand the difference between 1st-party data and 3rd-party data. 1st-party data is that which a company collects directly from its audience through its own channels, such as:
- Data from behaviors or actions taken across your website, app, and/or product
- Data in your CRM or CDP
- Data from your social media profiles
- Data from your subscription-based emails or products
- Data from surveys
- Data from customer feedback
3rd-party data, on the other hand, is gathered primarily via 3rd-party cookies by an outside source who does not have a direct relationship with the customer/audience and is sold for the purposes of advertising and audience targeting. 1st-party data can be very powerful when used properly, as it is more detailed and more representative of the actual customer. 1st-party data points like email addresses, physical addresses, and phone numbers can be leveraged directly for targeted ad buys or indirectly to identify new targets who exhibit similar characteristics and behavior patterns to existing customers.
Now that you know what 1st-party data is and why it matters, you’ll need to build out the necessary infrastructure. A martech stack is a cluster of software tools designed to help an organization collect, organize, and understand its 1st-party data. Martech solutions have historically been the domain of large enterprises, as smaller companies were able to lean on 3rd-party data to fill gaps in their targeting profiles. But with the departure of 3rd-party data as a tool, all companies (regardless of size) will need this back end to continue smart marketing and targeting practices.
Getting set up doesn’t need to cost millions or require an army of consultants if you are thoughtful about what makes your audience data actionable in the first place. Identify what data you have and what data you need, including the gaps left by 3rd-party data. Consider how each tool fits into the bigger picture. Weigh the value a tool provides against the increased complexity that comes with it. Most importantly, establish a well-defined process that has internal buy-in and follow it from day one. Using martech inconsistently can be worse than not having it at all.
The specific components needed depend on the size and purpose of an organization, and they can and should evolve over time as marketing objectives change. Cloud-based platforms like Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, and HubSpot integrate much of this functionality into a unified software suite, which may or may not be appropriate for your business. Here are the core components of a martech stack, along with some common examples:
- Email marketing platform to manage email marketing campaigns – MailChimp
- Social media marketing platform – Hootsuite
- Automation software like a social media scheduling tool – Marketo
- Content management system (CMS) to host your website and blog – WordPress, Drupal
- Search engine optimization (SEO) / search engine marketing (SEM) tools – Moz, Semrush
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software – Salesforce, HubSpot
- Customer data platform (CDP) – Oracle Unity
- Analytics and dashboarding software – Tableau
The demise of 3rd-party cookies doesn’t need to be a headache. With the right planning, businesses can take control of their own data, gain a better understanding of who their audience really is, and ensure their messaging is reaching the right people.