AI-Powered Email Marketing vs. Third-Party Cookies –
Not A Lost Battle, Yet

For more than two decades, companies have used third-party cookies to track and understand website visitors’ behavior online. On January 14, 2020, Google announced their plans to remove third-party cookies for Google Chrome. Chrome is the most common browser with over 66% of the global market share. Let’s take an in-depth look into how this change will affect online businesses, what you should do about it, and how AI-powered email marketing can help your company thrive regardless of this technology removal.

For more than two decades, companies have used third-party cookies to track and understand website visitors’ behavior online. On January 14, 2020, Google announced their plans to remove third-party cookies for Google Chrome. Chrome is the most common browser with over 66% of the global market share. Let’s take an in-depth look into how this change will affect online businesses, what you should do about it, and how AI-powered email marketing can help your company thrive regardless of this technology removal.

How cookies work

While you can use AI email marketing to leverage third-party cookie removal, the first step is understanding how cookies work. Cookies are small files that websites send to your device — like your computer or mobile phone. When you visit a site that uses cookies, they’re stored in a directory on your device, which the site then uses to monitor you and remember certain information about you — like what’s in your shopping cart on an e-commerce site, or your login information on a social media site.

Types of cookies

There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party. They can be distinguished by who they are created by and who they are sent to.

First-party cookies are created by the website you are visiting directly, hence the name first-party. They store information that is only relevant to that particular website. For example, first-party cookies allow website owners to collect analytics data, remember language settings, or perform other useful functions that help provide a good user experience.

Third-party cookies, on the other hand, are created by domains other than the one you are visiting directly, hence the name third-party. They are used for cross-site tracking, retargeting, and ad-serving.

Why will Google remove third-party cookies?

It's not just Google that is concerned about the use of cookies. Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox and Brave browsers are already blocking third-party cookies by default.

Why are these companies taking this step?

It all comes down to user privacy and control. Cookies can be a powerful tool for personalizing a web browsing experience based on your specific interests, but they can also carry sensitive data to places outside of your control. It impacts the adoption of the browser that encourages this. People want to have more choice and control over how their information is used and Google wants to meet their users’ expectations by blocking third-party cookies by default.

Today’s reality for online businesses, however, is that cookie-based tracking is not only ineffective but also imprecise and therefore hinders our ability to deliver on a great CX (customer experience).

Is it the end of tracking?

Google’s decision to end third-party cookies in its Chrome browser is not the end of privacy or tracking on the web, but rather a significant change in the way information will be collected.

This new policy likely won’t affect the way websites and apps work for most people. Tracking companies will just have to use other techniques to accomplish the same goals.

There are other technologies that Google and Adtech platforms are going to use instead while protecting users’ privacy (Google’s FLoC, Unified ID 2.0, Neustar’s Fabrick ID, and LiveRamp’s ATS).

How will the removal of third-party cookies affect my marketing strategy

The removal of third-party cookies will probably affect online advertising and marketing using this technique in two ways: Three-part identifiers and interest-based advertising.

If you rely on third-party cookie data for your advertising, you might be thinking you’ll need to find another way to reach your customers.

Even without third-party cookie data, we’ll still be able to leverage and target the majority of what Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other big players have to offer as they have developed big databases of first-party data. Although the effectiveness of advertising campaigns (ROAS) will decrease until a new generation of tracking is adopted.

How do we need to respond?

In response to the drastic changes in adoption and proposal of legislation surrounding online tracking, we should modify any strategy that relies on third-party cookie technology and identifiers.

Build your first-party database with email addresses as identifiers

Email addresses are among the most useful, yet underused online identifiers. They’re unique and they’re incredibly easy to collect.

When building your first-party data asset, you must include email addresses as one of your sources. The good news is that you don’t need to encourage users to share their addresses — they already did that when they signed up for a service or bought something from you.

Currently, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all of the other media companies use a hashed email address as a way to reach known customers on their platforms. Proposals for consented ID networks like Unified ID 2.0 are also built off a form of an email address.

It’s these non-cookie-based identifiers that allow adtech providers to onboard advertisers’ first-party data and to help them maximize the reach of their advertising campaigns. Facebook or Google look-a-like audiences are examples of this synergy.

AI-powered email marketing platforms such as Inbox Suite can help enrich your first-party database with additional insights from your email campaigns and external sources. Once you import a customer list and start to send emails, the system will analyze any user interaction with your content and build cohorts with the most active subscribers, segment users by similar activity, interests. This is a perfect way to strengthen your database and use it for lead generation campaigns.

Revise your subscriber acquisition

Sign up forms and email marketing campaigns are the two most common places where brands collect information from their customers. Companies will want to test every aspect of their sign up forms, including CTAs, form fields, and copy.

Experimenting with different CTAs – "Join Now" vs "Get More", or "Free Trial" – can make a substantial difference in how many people sign up, especially if the CTA is personalized based on someone's browsing history.

Another major opportunity for improvement lies in conversion optimization: companies can eliminate unnecessary form fields, streamline a form's layout, and remove any friction that might prevent people from signing up.

When it comes to experimenting with confirmation emails, AI tools can help you. No need to manually test an infinite number of copy hypotheses and email templates. The Inbox Suite platform handles confirmation and welcome emails (headlines, copy, email templates, and CTAs), and picks the right content for each new subscriber.

With the help of AI-powered email marketing you can make your customers onboarding smooth and collect the most important first data when you need it.

How to get the most out of subscriber retention

Focusing on subscriber retention is another important factor to consider. The ESPs are investing in technology that can help marketers understand why subscribers are unsubscribing, so they can implement changes and incentives to reduce the churn rate. 

The good news is that with modern AI-powered email marketing ESP you don’t need to pay attention to unsubscribes and manually build a segment of cold or unengaged subscribers. Inbox Suite will handle it for you.

This means more targeted and personalized email campaigns will be headed to your inactive subscribers and re-engage them with relevant messages, which will have a positive effect on overall email delivery rates and deliverability.

Centralize all CRM data

Centralizing and sharing data is a major undertaking, but it’s a necessary one, if you want your email marketing, website experience, and lead generation campaigns to be successful.

This has several benefits. By aggregating your data into one place, you can make your first-party data more accurate and easier to understand, as well as build better customer profiles and make smarter decisions about what content to deliver to which people. Centralization also makes it easy to share anonymous user data with online publishers.

With Inbox Suite we invest in data centralization. Our clients are able to store comprehensive user profiles and grow the value of their first-party data with each user interaction. No matter how many sources you use to get user data, we can connect them all in one platform and use our AI engine to get the maximum out of this data.

The advantage of AI-powered email marketing

While it’s unfair to say that third-party cookies will completely go away in the next five years, most businesses will make significant strides towards better protecting consumers. First-party data is more effective for personalizing content, providing more privacy for visitors, and is less intrusive.

Even if technology changes seem difficult to handle, usually they open big opportunities for your business and can bring you competitive advantage, if you set specific goals, understand the scope of the issue, and choose the right marketing tools to implement.

All-in-one AI-powered email marketing platforms can help you at different steps of improving your marketing strategy from collecting, unifying, and enriching data to handling email campaigns on auto-pilot and your data monetization.

If you are looking for an AI-powered email marketing solution, you can book a free consultation session with one of our experts today, and they will help you get started with AI in email marketing, increase your first-party data and help your business thrive.

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