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3 ways marketers can prepare for a cookieless future

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What is a customer data platform (CDP) and why do marketers need one?


Marketers around the world are anxiously awaiting the deprecation of third-party cookies, searching for ways to adapt their campaigns. At our MarTech conference, Sharon Kratochvil, Vice President of Global Analytics at Michael Kors, talked about the strategies her team implemented to prepare their brand for this “cookieless future.”

“The first campaign that I was asked to run at Michael Kors took 12 hours to produce, which even five years ago was 11 hours and 59 minutes too long,” she said. “Needless to say, most of our marketing activations were batch and blast.”

Kratochvil’s team opted for a CDP (they went with ActionIQ’s) to organize and activate valuable first-party customer data, which is crucial in a future without third-party cookies: “Our vision was to leverage all of our customer data, not just subsets of that customer data. So that was key for us, as was the in-memory processing. We could define business variables on the fly, which is critical as we continue to evolve our marketing.”

Timeline of third-party cookie changes. Source: Tamara Gruzbarg

The key to Michael Kors’ successful adaptation wasn’t the CDP itself — many marketers opt for different data management tools. The solution lay in the first-party data strategy their team enacted.

Use a CDP to gather first-party data

“The CDP allows us to be agile in our marketing,” Kratochvil said. “It gives us speed and flexibility in executing customer marketing campaigns and journeys.”

CDPs are designed to maximize the value of first-party customer data, making it a helpful asset for the coming third-party cookie deprecation. Kratochvil’s team used it to gather, organize and distribute this information to enhance their campaigns.

“It allowed us to automate all of our core campaigns, both digital and CRM, so those audiences were always fresh,” she said. “We pushed them regularly. We leveraged the most recent data.”

She added, ”It’s enabled us to seriously increase our segmentation and our personalization, both for marketing campaigns and journeys.”

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Whether brands opt for a pre-built CDP, a custom CDP, or another type of data platform depends on their acquisition goals and priorities. The aim is to glean the most insights from your first-party data.

“The goal was always to get our customer first-party data to work for us,” said Kratochvil. “As we started to build out our single view of the customer from our data lake, any insight we generated could be activated.”


Looking to take control of your data? Learn about trends and capabilities of customer data platforms in the latest edition of this MarTech Intelligence Report.

Click here to download!


Implement customer segmentation by channel

After getting their technologies in line for first-party data procurement and activation, Kratochvil’s team began segmenting their customers by channel. This made targeting customers easier while offering a testing environment.

“We started with segmentation by channel,” Kratochvil said. “We have multiple channels: outlet stores, lifestyle stores, e-commerce, and collection stores. It’s simple segmentation, but it’s very powerful. We tested things like the cadence, the content, and those messages that resonated within each channel.”

These tests were designed to prove the value of segmenting customers by channel using first-party data. This allowed them to easily personalize each interaction.

“Throughout this whole process, we created controlled tests so that we could prove channel segmentation did drive incremental revenue,” she said. “A key tenant was not just to do it, but to show that it worked and build confidence in the concept of segmentation and personalization.”

Kratochvil’s team adjusted channel segmentation on the fly throughout this testing process, further optimizing customer experiences while creating solid revenue streams.

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“A good example is our win-back campaigns,” she said, “We might start with email, but then we would want to go to a digital channel if we weren’t getting a response.”

Identify customers using first-party data

After gathering their customer data and implementing channel segmentation, Kratochvil’s team used the insights gleaned to begin identification.

“Our first action was to introduce durable, server-side cookies so that we could have control and visibility into that data,” she said.

Server-side first-party cookies can help marketers glean much of the customer information that used to come from third-party cookies. And although they lack the retargeting capabilities of their third-party counterparts, first-party cookies can assist identity resolution strategies to give marketers valuable customer data.

“Once we started issuing durable IDs, we had to be able to then resolve those IDs,” Kratochvil said. “We have a CRM system with known customers and they have an ID. We created another site-based ID that follows that customer, but we have to be able to resolve identities, matching the durable ID to a customer record.”

Although Kratochvil’s team resolved those durable IDs, there was a large pool of unknown visitors. Their CRM alone wasn’t capable of handling this vast amount of data.

Identity resolution platforms have the potential to address these issues. They can connect customer identifiers across many platforms to identify individuals, all the while complying with consumer privacy laws.

Whatever strategies and technologies brands choose, they need to be ready for the third-party data changes that are coming.

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“This third-party cookie deprecation is real,” Kratochvil said. “It’s going to have a business impact and we need to be prepared for it.”

Identity resolution platforms: A snapshot

What it is. Identity resolution is the science of connecting the growing volume of consumer identifiers to one individual as he or she interacts across channels and devices.

What the tools do. Identity resolution technology connects those identifiers to one individual. It draws this valuable data from the various channels and devices customers interact with, such as connected speakers, home management solutions, smart TVs, and wearable devices. It’s an important tool as the number of devices connected to IP networks is expected to climb to more than three times the global population by 2023, according to the Cisco Annual Internet Report.

Why it’s hot now. More people expect relevant brand experiences across each stage of their buying journeys. One-size-fits-all marketing doesn’t work; buyers know what information sellers should have and how they should use it. Also, inaccurate targeting wastes campaign spending and fails to generate results.

This is why investment in identity resolution programs is growing among brand marketers. These technologies also ensure their activities stay in line with privacy regulations.

Why we care. The most successful digital marketing strategies rely on knowing your potential customer. Knowing what they’re interested in, what they’ve purchased before — even what demographic group they belong to — is essential.

Read next: What is identity resolution and how are platforms adapting to privacy changes?


About The Author

Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.

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MARKETING

Daily SEO Fix: Competitive Link Research

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Daily SEO Fix: SEO Reporting — More Specific Use Cases

Link research is an essential pillar of an SEO strategy, but competitive link research can help you get a leg up. It’s vital for websites to not only know about their own link profile, but to also have an effective strategy in place to stay relevant against competitors.

Hopefully at this point, you know who your competitors are, and hey, that’s half the battle. If you still aren’t sure, check out our Competitive Research tool in Moz Pro. This tool can help you find out exactly who your competitors are, the keywords they rank for and what their top performing content is.

If you would like to understand our Competitive Research tool more, and learn how it can be used to your advantage, feel free to book a Moz Pro Kick Off Call with a member of Moz’s Onboarding Team below.

Book a Moz Pro Kick Off Call

So, why do we want to conduct “competitive link research”?

  • Learning how others are performing can help guide your own linking strategy, and you may discover tactics that you haven’t considered before.

  • There may be opportunities and gaps in your competitor’s link profile, which you can identify and slot yourself into.

  • You will know what types of content perform well, and from there can make your content 10x better than your competitors!

  • Your analysis will help you understand more about the audience you are trying to speak to.

  • A comprehensive backlink strategy can aid you in ranking higher on the SERP.

If you’re seeking guidance on how to build an SEO competitive analysis framework, check out Moz Academy’s SEO Competitive Analysis Certification. This coursework covers everything you need to know to confidently implement an effective strategy, and you’ll earn your Moz Certification, which you can display on your LinkedIn profile!

In the following videos, the Moz team will show you workflows and other tips and tricks within the Moz Pro tool set that will help you with your competitive link research analysis.

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Link Gap Analysis: Link Intersect

Link gap analysis is a popular tactic amongst SEOs. It involves comparing your own link profile to that of your competitors, and finding the gaps that exist. They could be getting backlinks from several websites that you aren’t receiving any from — this could be a golden opportunity — another way to compete with your top competitors.

In this video, Emilie will show you how to use Moz Pro’s Link Intersect tool to find out this information.

Discover Linking Domains with SERP Analysis

In the Moz Pro Keyword Research tool, there is a functionality where you can search a keyword, and the top ranking pages for that keyword will show. But, there is so much more to this function.

In this video, Varad will show you those ranking pages, as well as the domains that are linking to that particular page. Get ready to soar from there!

Use Page Optimization to Find Content Suggestions

Moz’s Page Optimization tool is primarily used to see what improvements may need to be made to a page, as well as keyword placement on a page. When you dive a bit deeper into this particular tool, you’ll find that Moz offers content suggestions to you, including URLs that are ranking for the keyword you first queried. Identifying these top ranking URLs is a great way to see what kind of content you should also be creating.

In this video, Rachel will show you what you can do with this new found information and how it can help your link research.

Find Backlinks to Competitor’s Broken Pages

Analyzing the backlinks on a competitor’s broken page is another tactic that SEOs are using, that you may not have been aware of. There are hidden opportunities within these broken pages that are just waiting to be discovered.

In this video, Arian will show you exactly how you can find those broken pages within Moz Pro’s Link Research tool.

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Discovered & Lost Backlinks

Another gem within the Moz Pro Link Research tools is the ‘Discovered & Lost’ section. This section will show you all of the new backlinks that Moz has found linking to your competitor in the last 60 days, as well as backlinks that have been lost. This can be insightful information when working on your own backlink building.

In this video, Eoin shows you how you can use this functionality to up your Link Research game.


If you’d like to continue learning about Competitive Research, check out our previous Daily SEO Fix on Competitive Keyword Research for some great insights into a competitive keyword research strategy.

Other additional resources for learning continuation:

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