Brands must deliver personalization, even in a cookie-less future

Apple recently changed how the company handles consumer data and this singular move will transform how we market products in the future. Apple gave each user greater control over who tracks their data, how it can be shared, and where that information is used. Similarly, consumer data privacy legislation changes are happening all over the world.

Data collection has been synonymous with the modern consumer experience and the way brands interact with their customers. But new privacy initiatives are bringing about a new age of digital marketing strategy. Further protection of consumer data will make it more difficult for companies to understand the desires of their customer base, at least in comparison to the third-party data collection practices that are so common today. But this could actually be a good thing.

Privacy initiatives refocus marketing strategies on consumers

New privacy initiatives, like Apple’s recent changes, are making it harder to collect data. This creates a real challenge for marketers, but the upside of this challenge is that the consumer will become the focus of marketing once again. Brands will be required to identify, connect with, and cater to individual consumers with greater specificity and intentionality. The pressure to be more strategic (as spurred on by these new privacy regulations and changes) will ultimately transform the industry for the better.

Data privacy initiatives like these illustrate that many companies have forgotten an important trait in modern consumers: they want personalization. According to Accenture, 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that offer them some degree of personalization, and this includes product recommendations and unique customer-specific experiences. Without consumer data, it will be more difficult for brands to personalize their offerings, but consumers will still expect targeted deals and recommendations.

Ultimately, this is good for the marketing world because strategists will have to innovate and come up with new ways to reach customers, like using first- or zero-party data collection that comes straight from the consumer.

Ushering in a new era of marketing

With further regulation of data collection, marketers find it more challenging to reach customers. For instance, strategies like email marketing, where segments are based on open rates, will be more difficult to determine. Traditional strategies must be reinvented as old strategies become ineffective and obsolete, and we can expect this change to touch every aspect of the marketing world.

We knew this was coming. Marketing has needed a change for many years. As an enterprise marketing platform provider, we see first-hand how digitization has become the norm and brands have become complacent in their marketing efforts. When shopping first went digital, most brands adapted by offering email, social and other virtual strategies, but after their development, these methods have become stagnant. What was put in place a decade ago hasn’t adjusted to meet current needs, and this includes a lack of personalization.

And personalization must be central to all of these changes. The only way marketers will succeed in an increasingly regulated world of data privacy is if their efforts focus on the unique qualities and needs of each customer. To gather specific customer data, strategies will favor direct communication, whether through AI or through strategic tools like quizzes and surveys. It will be essential for companies to develop the tools and resources needed to communicate directly with their customers so that they can get the information they need to personalize experiences straight from the source.

We will see personalization as the underlying theme in everything from social strategies to brand identity development. It will drive the action behind the next generation of marketing efforts. Consumers want and expect individualized experiences from each brand they interact with, regardless of the fact that they are more cautious about sharing their data. It’s essential that brands cater to the consumer’s desire for trust and their expectation for personalization by communicating directly to determine their intent. Data privacy may be marketing’s biggest challenge, but it’s also an opportunity for marketers to innovate and bring about beneficial changes for the industry as a whole.

Image credit: PROKOPEVA IRINA / Shutterstock

Tim Glomb is VP of Content and Data at Cheetah Digital