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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.”

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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.”


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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.”

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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.”

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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

Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover

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Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover

“It’s hard to hire; it’s hard to train; it’s hard to keep people from burning out. To make matters worse, these challenges have intensified so swiftly that leaders have hardly had time to digest them, let alone mount a defense.”

That’s the main takeaway from “The State of Marketing Operations: 2022,” a new report from junior marketing ops training platform Highway Education and ABM leader Demandbase. The findings were based primarily on a survey of 800 marketing operations professionals from organizations of all sizes, more than half from mid-sized companies.

The demand for talent. The vastly accelerated shift to digital marketing — not to mention sales and service — has led inflated demand for MOps talent, a demand the market can’t keep up with. Two results: burnout as too much is demanded of MOps professionals; and turnover, as it’s easy to find alternative opportunities. The outcome for companies is the growing burden of hiring and training replacements.

Use of marketing software has grown two and a half times in less than ten years, according to the report, and the number of marketing operations professionals, across organizations of all sizes, has increased by two-thirds. Use of marketing automation alone has grown 228% since 2016, and there has been a 66% growth in the size of MOps teams just since 2020.

Perhaps most remarkable, 93% of MOps professionals learned on the job.


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Why we care. Providing beginner MOps training services, Highway Education clearly has an interest in this data. At the same time, there can be little doubt that the demand for MOps talent is real and growing. If there’s a surprising figure here, it’s that use of marketing software has grown only two and a half times in the last decade.

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AWS MOps leader Darrell Alfonso, quoted in the report, says: “There’s a disconnect between marketing strategy and the actual execution — what it takes to actually operationalize and bring a strategy to life. Leadership, especially the ‘old guard,’ will be more familiar with traditional methods like field marketing and commercials. But now, during the pandemic and post, there’s an entire digital world that needs to be
managed by people who know what they’re doing.”

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Read next: More on marketing ops from Darrell Alfonso


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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