3 ways to personalize your email marketing without third-party cookies

October 19, 2021 | 3 minute read
Magan Le
Content Marketing Manager, Litmus
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We’ve all been hearing about the great cookie revolution that’s coming in 2022. What does this mean for email marketing?

What won’t change post-cookies is the need for marketers to provide relevant, personalized customer experiences. But, with the impending exit of third-party cookies, email marketers will need to rely on different tactics to learn about their prospects and customers. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can do so without relying on third-party (3P) cookies. (Third-party cookies are placed on a user’s device by someone other than the website owner—and up until now, they tracked user behavior across different websites.)

1. Lean into first-party data for email marketing

First-party (1P) cookies—and the data they provide—aren’t going anywhere. These are the cookies you place on a visitor’s device from your own website, typically to track behavior across it, like basic geographic data, page views, clicks, and what content people are consuming. You’ll still track users across your own domains and see where their interests lie. But first-party cookies aren’t the only way to acquire this first-party data, and you’re likely already putting this strategy into place today.

Providing meaningful content, access, education, or experiences that are relevant to your audience in exchange for their contact information—or info—is another way to increase the first-party data you have. Effective marketers will lean on this data more to make informed decisions about their marketing strategies.

The perceived value of the content needs to match the perceived cost. If you gate a generic infographic to get more first-party details, you likely won’t have a strong response rate. However, if you gate an in-depth learning module addressing a pain point specific to your audience, you’ll likely see a higher response.

2. Invest in qualitative customer research

One of the best ways to learn what customers want is to ask them directly. Third-party cookie deprecation provides a perfect opportunity to ask management for time and resources to invest in customer interviews and market research. Talk to your customers regularly to supplement first-party cookie quantitative data with qualitative data from folks who use your product or service.

Whether that means in-person or online interviews, sentiment analysis in email campaigns, monitoring social media, or sending out dedicated surveys, have real conversations with your customers if you plan on staying competitive.

Your customers all started out as prospects at some point. Understanding them as full humans will help you understand future customers who you want to attract now. I’ve seen clients conduct a mixture of in-depth interviews with current, lost, and new customers—and then layer this insight on top of larger survey data to inform their brand, messaging, and creative strategies. When they did this, they typically had much more successful campaigns and product launches than if they didn’t give their customer a seat at the table.

3. Leverage other customer data channels

Cookies are web-based, but other channels can provide valuable data, too. Email marketing is an ideal medium to interact with and learn about your customers. Email provides:

This means that it’s an effective way to test different marketing strategies to learn what works best for your organization. Invest in your email marketing program—including the tools and people who run it—to set you up for success when third-party cookies go away.

Marketing is more than cookies

While the cookie may be crumbling, the most successful cross-channel marketing programs are the ones that use a variety of data points to inform strategy. Even though third-party cookies will soon be gone, marketers and marketing leaders can embrace the opportunity to leverage other channels and tools and stay competitive.

At the end of the day, successful marketing is about knowing your customers, giving them what they need and want, and iterating on that knowledge to attract future customers. Third-party cookies aren’t the only way to gain that knowledge, and marketers are now tasked to figure out the best way to find and connect with their audience once they’re gone.

Want to learn how to further optimize your customer data? Watch the Oracle Advertising and CX Virtual Summit on personalization.

Magan Le

Content Marketing Manager, Litmus

Magan Le has done email marketing for B2B and B2C brands and now she writes about it at Litmus. She believes in authenticity, creating content that empowers marketers to not only optimize their email marketing program but also connect with their subscribers.

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