Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies for Ecommerce Marketing in 2023

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As the digital landscape evolves, one significant change on the horizon is the phasing out of third-party cookies. These cookies, which track users across the web, are facing a decline due to privacy concerns and regulatory changes. Ecommerce businesses that vastly rely on these types of data need to be aware of the implications of the phase-out and turn to alternatives to third-party cookies to ensure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts in this post-cookie world. 

1. Understanding Third-Party Cookies

Third-party cookies play a significant role in digital marketing. These small files are stored on your computer by websites you visit, enable tracking of your browsing activity across multiple sites. That’s how, for years, brands have leveraged third-party cookies to track website visitors, enhance user experience, and collect data that aids in targeting ads to the right audiences. However, the era of third-party cookies is gradually coming to an end. Safari and Firefox have already blocked them entirely, while Google’s Chrome plans to phase out their support by 2024 (although it’s the second time they’ve delayed it since its initial announcement in 2020).

Death of third-party cookies 2023 ecommerce marketing

Several factors contribute to the phasing out of third-party cookies. Firstly, privacy concerns have grown, with people increasingly looking for more control over their personal data and objecting to being tracked across the web. Secondly, the online advertising industry, reliant on third-party cookies, faces a lot of scrutiny from regulators. Lastly, there exist viable alternatives to track users and target ads effectively.

Despite these alternatives, the loss of third-party cookies will undeniably have a significant impact on e-commerce marketing as we know it. Two key areas that will be affected are:

  • Tracking and analytics: Without third-party cookies, businesses will struggle to track and understand customers’ browsing or purchasing habits across different websites. This will make it more challenging to comprehend customer needs and interests and tailor marketing messages accordingly. It will be harder, but not impossible.
  • Personalization of ads: Ecommerce brands will no longer be able to rely on third-party cookies to target ads based on user’s browsing history. Consequently, it will be harder to display ads that align with users’ interests, potentially leading to lower click-through rates and conversion rates.

While the decline of third-party cookies presents challenges, it also opens up opportunities for new approaches to digital marketing and privacy-conscious strategies.

2. Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies: How to Future-Proof Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

As third-party cookies crumble, eCommerce marketers seek sweeter strategies for a tastier digital future. So, what alternatives can you turn to in order to future-proof your marketing strategy in a post-cookie world? Let’s explore the shift towards zero-party data and first-party data, which will be the backbone of effective eCommerce marketing.

2.a. Make the Shift to Zero-Party Data and First-Party Data

Transitioning to zero-party data and first-party data in your eCommerce marketing is essential to remain relevant in the post-cookie era.

Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies Zero Party Data

Zero-party data refers to information voluntarily shared by users with businesses, such as preferences, interests, and contact details. This data is collected directly from users through interactive methods like surveys, polls, and quizzes. It is more accurate, specific, and reliable. Furthermore, since users provide this data with their consent, privacy concerns are minimal.

On the other hand, a first-party cookie is a small code that is automatically generated and stored on a visitor’s computer when they visit your website. It primarily enhances user experience by remembering passwords, basic visitor information, and preferences. It provides insights into a user’s interactions on your website, such as visit frequency and basic analytics. However, it’s important to note that first-party cookies only provide data within the confines of the website’s domain and cannot track visitor behavior on external websites.

3. Best Practices for Marketing Without Third-Party Cookies

3.a. Embrace Google’s Privacy Sandbox 

In response to the phasing out of third-party cookies, Google has been actively developing the Privacy Sandbox. This project introduces alternative technologies aiming to track user behavior and deliver relevant ads while respecting user privacy. Although still under development, the Privacy Sandbox holds great potential for eCommerce businesses, offering them an opportunity to continue tracking users and displaying personalized ads in a more privacy-friendly manner.

What is Google’s Privacy Sandbox

3.b. Build a Data Plan Grounded in First-Party/Zero-Party Data

When establishing your data plan, it’s essential to consider several key aspects. 

  • Evaluate the data you have already collected, its storage location, and whether it is organized efficiently. 
  • Identify any additional data necessary to fulfill your business’s email marketing objectives. 
  • Determine the channels and methods through which you can collect this data, and establish a well-structured system for organizing and storing it. 
  • Outline how you intend to leverage the data once acquired to achieve your marketing goals effectively.

data driven email marketing - data types

3.c. Harness the Power of Owned Channels and Retention Marketing

To maintain effective communication with your customers, it’s crucial to focus on your owned channels, such as email and SMS marketing. These channels allow you to:

By capturing subscribers through these owned channels and combining their information with your first-party data, you gain the ability to segment your audience based on behaviors, purchase history, and location. 

3.d. Engaging Customers and Collect Dara Through Conversational SMS Flows

Conversational SMS flows enable businesses to interact with customers using two-way messaging. These flows offer the opportunity to collect valuable information directly from customers, without any intermediaries (zero-party data). This data empowers you to personalize your communication and improve the overall customer experience. 

Alternatives to third party cookies SMS-conversational-flow-example

3.e. Capture One-Time Store Visitors with Opt-In Strategies

Strengthening your opt-in strategy can greatly benefit your marketing efforts. Utilize multiple tools such as pop-ups, landing pages, and embedded forms to capture customer information. These tools, especially pop-ups, can serve as valuable touchpoints for gathering leads and initiating contact. By effectively growing your email and SMS marketing lists, you empower your marketing teams and fortify your first-party data strategy. Find out how we got 8 eCommerce an average 716% increase in sign-ups (and a 1,563% average increase in Welcome Flow attributed revenue).

pop up survey data collection example

3.f. Provide Value in Exchange for Data

To encourage customers to share their data, offer exclusive discounts, free gifts, or other incentives. By providing tangible value in exchange for their information, you establish a mutually beneficial relationship. This approach fosters trust and increases the likelihood of customers willingly sharing their data. This in turn enables you to refine your marketing strategies further.

alternatives to third party cookies Provide Value in Exchange for Data

3.g. Build Customer Loyalty and Gather Data Through Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs offer a powerful strategy to foster customer loyalty and drive repeat business. By implementing a well-designed loyalty program, you can incentivize customers to engage with your brand on an ongoing basis. Effective loyalty programs not only boost customer retention but also serve as a platform for gathering valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviors. 

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In conclusion, the phasing out of third-party cookies presents a challenge for e-commerce marketers. However, it also opens up opportunities for new approaches to eCommerce marketing. By adapting and embracing more privacy-friendly alternatives, businesses can continue to deliver personalized experiences and respect user privacy.

Looking for more insights on how retention marketing can be your solution in a post-third-party cookie world? Book a free call with our ecommerce marketing experts.

Belen_fatima_accountmanager_Hustlermarketing
Belén Loaiza Ruiz

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