The cookie culture is crumbling
Google’s new privacy policies, also known as the privacy sandbox, are going through significant changes. By the end of the year 2023, Google plans to stop third-party cookies on the Chrome browser. They will end decades of data-driven targeting advertising, describing this modification as one of the most important steps towards greater privacy.
Before diving into what this entails for the legal marketing sector, let’s quickly look at what cookies are. They are blocks of data that are created by servers to track users’ activity online and give advertising platforms relevant information for target advertising.
With that being said, what does a cookie-less future mean for law firms?
Trends in technology that were perhaps years away are currently developing, thus pushing law firms to ride the wave of change and prepare a new kind of marketing strategy.
While companies can take a “let’s wait to see what happens” approach, this attitude could result in last-minute frustrations and pains, which can easily be avoided. We would like to provide a solid explanation of the current environment, what a cookie-less world means, and actionable steps your firm can take in order to ensure your marketing isn’t “half-baked.”
Getting acquainted with the new rules
First thing’s first, Google’s plan to remove third-party cookies doesn’t mean law firms will go through a sudden cookie-apocalypse. In reality, this change was inevitable and was going to take place sooner or later. Why? Factors like data leaks and privacy concerns have been pushing clients towards more private options, like the incognito mode on their browser, no-tracking devices, and ad blockers. Now, the people have spoken, and they are rightfully demanding more data transparency.
According to recent privacy studies, 81% of people feel they have no control over what businesses do with their data, and almost equally (79%) are concerned with how companies use this data. It is clear to see that the old cookie method of collecting information needs to change.
With that said, does that mean that all cookies will disappear? The answer is no; only third-party ones will be gone. Let’s take a look at the three types of cookies to understand better what’s to come.
- First-party cookies: They are stored under the same domain you are visiting. Examples include remembering selected preferences or storing your shopping cart.
- Second-party cookies: In a way, a subset of first-party cookies and are data that is shared with two or more partners. Like when an airline shares database information, such as first name and emails, with a trusted hotel chain to use for ad targeting.
- Third-party cookies: These are stored in a different domain. They track users on many other websites. Uses include retargeting campaigns and cross-site tracking.
While third-party cookies have helped businesses’ targeting strategies for decades, they’ve been far from perfect. There are challenges and gaps to third-party data, including:
- Gaps in the data research when these aren’t passed from one platform to another.
- Fractures in the customer journey when a user jumps from, e.g., desktop to a mobile device.
The challenge that arises is that despite the fact that we’re living in a digital data-driven world where users expect a personalized customer experience, they also have high standards for their data privacy.
That raises the question for businesses, “how can we offer a personalized and customized experience whilst also protecting the consumer’s privacy?”
This is a great time to test new marketing methods.
Moving towards a people-based marketing future
People-based marketing refers to the creation of a cohesive customer-centric marketing strategy based on real-time data behavior. This method does not rely on third-party cookies.
The benefits of people-based marketing include:
- Better understanding of the clients’ preferences, behaviors, etc.
- Effective targeting.
- An omnichannel approach.
- More control of your data.
This type of marketing is composed of three elements:
- Identification: Businesses should be able to recognize their customers across different channels.
- Data: Gather data through interactions on platforms like your website.
- Automation: This entails creating an omnichannel marketing approach, in other words, focusing on CRM (customer relationship management) platforms.
Consolidating the CRM tool across all your organization’s channels can help you create a better messaging strategy aligned with the different target segmentations.
In addition to this, you can get creative and offer content in exchange for some user information like name and email address; this is known as gated content. However, this should provide value above all. To ensure this is the case, ask yourself, “what benefits am I offering clients?” Make it all about them. For example:
- Suppose you’re offering a free webinar/ workshop. Reassess, what is so valuable about this workshop? What are the customers getting out of this?
- If you want them to “download a free ebook,” you should analyze; what do clients have to gain from this? How is this content going to make their lives easier/better?
Maximizing first-party data
Although third-party cookies will be gone, you’ll still be able to track the trail of crumbs from first-party cookies; data collected from domains such as your website. It includes information such as demographics, purchase history, interactions on-site, and session duration.
The first step is to encourage visitors to authenticate themselves. Here are some ways to entice users to take action:
- Add a user registration form. This includes any creative method that will push users towards authenticating themselves before entering your website. A few pro tips when working with these forms include adding the necessary fields on the ‘required fields’ section and keeping the layout as clean and straightforward as possible.
- Test out other channels outside your website, like social media channels.
- Leverage targeted email messaging. This means separating audiences and sending out tailored messages according to that group’s specific wants and needs. This can additionally improve the ROI, retention, and relationship with clients.
- Place timely ads. Do you want to place ads on your website? If so, it’s key to analyze where and when the ads should be placed. Remember, not everyone will have the same customer journey. Therefore, deciding where to put an ad is key. In addition to this, when to place the ad is equally important. If there are higher peaks of engagement during certain days or months, make sure you take advantage of this season.
Keep your marketing from crumbling apart
Even though Google’s third-party cookies will be around until 2023, it’s best to avoid the “wait-and-see what happens” approach. Preparing for the future today means your invested time and money are well-spent.
The cookie-less times ahead will bring new changes. More so, it’ll hold opportunities for your firm to ride the wave of change and pave its path. To secure your firm’s long-term success, it’s critical you partner up with a team that’ll be in the trenches with you. Want to safeguard your firm’s future? Talk to us today.