How to collect first-party data without cookies

by Angus Jones

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the websites you visit ‘remember’ things about you. The information they store can be anything from your login credentials to items you’ve browsed, articles you’ve liked, and more. To do that, websites use what are called ‘cookies.

In February 2020, to increase consumer privacy, Google announced its plans to remove third-party cookies in the Chrome browser by 2022 – and while the tech giant recently delayed the phase-out until 2023, it’s important small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) start preparing now for this new era of measurement and personalisation.

Central to this is collecting first-party data, which is information collected directly from your audience or customer base. Put simply, businesses need to find ways to earn trust from their customers, so they feel comfortable and safe to opt-in and share their data. The best place to do this is the company website.

Here are a few ways to utilise your website to collect first-party data to ultimately deliver personalised online experiences while ensuring transparency:

Optimise your website

In today’s age, experiences are currency, and audiences expect their digital experiences to be personalised, immediate, and remarkable. All while feeling that their data is being protected and respected. However, the best marketing can’t make up for a malfunctioning website. Before you invest in experimenting with different techniques for first-party data collection, utilise your current website data to ensure your online user experience is fast, easy, and seamless. Having the right technology partner like WP Engine can help drive website visitors, increase performance, and ensure your website uses the latest security updates and upgrades.

Utilise online and offline channels

Depending on your target audience, businesses can collect first-party data from a range of sources, including mobile apps, websites, social media, SMS, email, surveys, customer service interactions, CRM systems, point of purchase, and direct mail (using digital data to inform your offline campaigns). Each channel has a unique set of targeting options, allowing businesses to collect a range of data such as unique visitors and interactions, demographic data, purchase history, interests, time spent on site and more. The more channels you tap into, the more you can learn about your customers.

Reward your customers for opting-in

Businesses must educate their consumers on the benefits and positive experiences they’re going to have in exchange for sharing their data. Loyalty programs are key here. Suppose there’s a strong enough value exchange. In that case, customers will join loyalty programs to not only take advantage of discounts and vouchers but keep up to date with the brand’s new products, trends, product recommendations and other developments. The more you reward your customer, the more likely they will consider using their data for a fair exchange. Importantly, this value exchange must be enduring by protecting and respecting their data and responsibly leveraging the data they have shared.

Experiment with interactive formats

Interactive content types like quizzes, polls, and surveys have been used since the beginning of the web. Still, recently they’ve turned into an efficient marketing tool and can be a great way to learn about your customer. People love interacting with these types of formats. They’re fun, engaging, and informative if done correctly. Experiment with ways you can interact with your customers in a non-intrusive way to not only increase engagement but provide learnings about their interests and needs.

The world of digital commerce is in constant flux. To keep up with this fast-paced market, business owners must understand the importance of data collection, particularly first-party data. Collecting first-party data can be a beast, so businesses must start preparing now by putting a plan in place, optimising their website, tapping into a range of different channels, experimenting with different content formats, and most importantly, delivering a fast, secure, and convenient value exchange with customers.

Written by Helena Softley, SMB Lead at WP Engine, Australia

For more information on Cookies, refer to Small Business Answers guide to the Impact for business post cookie changes.

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