The Cookie Apocalypse: Get Ready with Chat Marketing

3P tracking cookies feature

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash 

Early last year, Google announced plans to phase out third-party cookies from its platforms and replace them with a framework known as FLoC. This so-called “cookie apocalypse” is being done in the name of protecting online privacy and fulfilling antitrust obligations. While it’s been pushed out to 2023, digital marketers are still scrambling to plan for a major event that threatens the very backbone of the online advertising industry.

Third-party cookies are how many ad companies and data brokers track you across the internet. They can see which sites you go to and use that to build a profile of you and your interests — which is then used to target ads to you. Websites often have third-party cookies from multiple ad companies. These cookies form the backbone of the digital advertising ecosystem.

Since the initial announcement, Google has established a more “responsible” timeline for eliminating third-party cookies. With the impending cookie apocalypse now set for sometime in 2023, digital marketers will be forced to adjust their strategy to a model that delivers actionable insights, targeted outreach, and revenue opportunities while ensuring compliance and customer privacy. So, what does that model look like?

The Power of a Conversation

A cookie-less web means that “owned” or first-party data – what customers give companies by permission – is mission critical for marketers. Conversations with customers on social media allows us to ask people about preferences, interests, and personal data directly, without tracking them.

Chat marketing platforms play a significant role in acquiring first-party data in a way that is privacy compliant, and is largely immune to cookies and privacy issues in the ad space. Users who are already engaged with their brands willingly provide that information.

How Chat Marketing Works

Messaging apps have overtaken social media platforms in the number of active monthly users by 20%. Chat marketing is an approach to acquiring and engaging customers using messaging software such as live chat, chatbots, and other messaging channels. To put simply, it’s the use of chat for brand communications with customers, a multichannel approach that keeps customers engaged and retained, and turns them into brand fans.

Chat marketing allows influencers and brands to communicate directly with their customers or prospects in real time, on the platform they prefer. This could include social media direct messages, SMS or email. Most importantly, it allows you to reach your customers where they already are. Eighty seven percent of smartphone users are active on messaging apps, and an estimated 3 billion people will use messaging apps by 2022.

Actionable Insights

In the chat experience, marketers can ask customers questions to gather more granular information, use that data to attract more customers, and inform better experiences for all of their customers.

For example, let’s say I’m an ecommerce company running a promotion or general sale around sweaters or jeans, and I want to showcase the right products to the right customers. In earlier interactions with those same customers, I’ve asked them if they’re male or female and if they are interested in sweaters or jeans.

Those previous chats let me know whether my current chat is with a male interested in sweaters or jeans. I can use that and any other information the person shared, to personalize communications around relevant promotions.

Adapting to a Post 3P Cookie World

A chat marketing strategy can benefit every part of the customer pipeline, from lead generation to content marketing, sales, and customer success teams. Unlike web cookies, chat marketing builds trust and breaks down barriers between a business and its customers. It allows both parties to have more relevant, personalized interactions on a medium that people are comfortable chatting on Instagram, Facebook, SMS or email.

As we approach the cookie apocalypse, marketers should look to integrate customer conversations into their strategy. It serves as a quick way to build relationships and move customers through the marketing and sales funnel. It looks at the entire customer lifecycle, seeing where and how meaningful interactions can be created to drive more committed customers from acquisition to retention using multiple channels to communicate.

Mike Yan is CEO of ManyChat