How marketers can achieve personalisation without third-party data

The dramatic rise of digital products over the past few years has launched a catalyst of change across all industries. Marketing, in particular, has undergone a massive digital transformation and marketers have been forced to modernise and digitise their strategies to become more data-driven. 

Whilst data has become a critical lever for marketers as they work to personalise CX, data privacy is increasingly becoming a major focus for governments and businesses alike, resulting in organisations like Apple removing support for third-party tracking.  But there’s another way for organisations to better understand the end-to-end CX while meeting privacy obligations: First-party behavioural data. Once viewed as information only product and engineering teams could utilise to inform their strategies, today’s leading businesses are putting product data at the heart of their marketing strategies. Here’s why that change is so pivotal today.  

The death of third-party data  

Marketers have long used third-party data to aid in everything from campaign design, to retargeting, to product marketing decisions. However, in recent years data privacy has become a primary concern regarding the use of third-party data. 

Governments and companies alike are making consumer privacy a priority and are cracking down on organisations that track users’ data across the internet. For example, in several European countries Google Analytics was found to be non-compliant with EU GDPR regulations – a significant problem facing marketers within the EU.

Google has tried to adapt to changing consumer behaviour with the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). But this new platform is unlikely to improve several pre-existing privacy related issues, including the use of Google Signals.

Google Signals, the mechanism Google Analytics uses to identify anonymous visitors and enrich data, is currently allowed within GDPR provided requirements are adhered to. But if Google Analytics is anything to go by, this may change. If these rulings continue, Google Analytics may very well lose some of its most useful features within the EU.

The amplified focus on privacy issues reflects public sentiment, with many of today’s consumers reluctant to hand their data over to multinational corporations. But customers still expect B2B brands to deliver the personalised experiences they’ve come to expect from B2C companies. So, how can marketers achieve this as the industry moves away from third party analytics?  

Putting your product at the centre of your business

It goes without saying that in B2B, most of the purchase funnel happens without interacting directly with the brand. And the pandemic has amplified this behaviour. It doesn’t do to rely on prospects reaching out to sales. Customers prefer to do product research or testing online, and contact sales when they’re at the end of the buying process.

This customer behaviour represents an opportunity for marketers to begin using product data to collect behavioural information about their customers, providing marketers with insight into the broader customer lifecycle. Product data tells us the content or features that users are engaging with within the product, helping teams identify key growth metrics such as increases in subscriptions, retention, or revenue. All of this can then be leveraged to deliver more proactive and personalised marketing campaigns and feature launches. 

The most successful marketers understand the need to evolve their marketing strategy from the traditional sales-led model to a new product-led model. Unfortunately, some marketers are still depending on vanity metrics—think web visits, downloads and total users—to drive their marketing strategies. These surface-level web analytics lack context, do not provide clear intent and cannot guide action or learning, which makes finding the ‘why’ behind consumer behaviour nearly impossible. With first-party product analytics, organisations can track and analyse interactions between users and the product, and can then build cohorts to personalise the customer experience. 

Personalisation without extending marketing budgets 

In today’s market, marketing leaders need to prove the return on all their investments. They won’t have the luxury of wasting time on failed campaigns in the coming year. In order to drive growth with limited resourcing, marketing teams will need to be data-driven. To promote cost efficiency, marketers should look to eliminate redundancies in their tools while prioritising solutions that support data quality and analysis. Instead of using one product to aggregate your data, then another to analyse it, these capabilities can and should be combined to reduce costs. 

Data management is a huge part of improving personalisation efforts that ultimately can support your bottom line. But many businesses use a variety of vendors to meet their needs. For example, a business may be using a customer data platform (CDP) to store their data, another platform to analyse it, and a third platform for testing and personalisation. Why is this a problem? When integrating your data between different platforms, each move represents a potential point of failure leading to data discrepancies.

Creating a culture of good data hygiene—starting with the tools you utilise—will ensure all decisions are based on accurate, real-time data and personalisation efforts will increase in effectiveness.  

In the past few years, marketers’ responsibility to drive business growth has evolved and expanded. As we continue to move through uncertain economic times, all leaders, not just marketing leaders, will need to defend their investments and leverage data to fuel decision-making. With behavioural data insights and strong data governance, improved personalisation without massive new marketing investments or privacy violations can be achieved. The companies that win their markets will be those who can adapt quickly to changing business environments and drive efficient product-led growth. 

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