The end of the cookie era is (still) nigh. While Google has recently pushed back its plans to remove third-party cookies to 2024, all this has done is delay the inevitable.
Digital marketers are understandably concerned about losing critical data and the resulting impact on their campaigns. This concern is particularly prevalent in booming industries such as solar energy, where demand has increased dramatically as of late. It’s up to solar industry marketers to adapt to a cookie-less landscape in order to capitalize on the global shift towards clean energy.
Fortunately, the end of third-party cookies does not signify the end of highly valuable user data altogether. Here are a few ways solar industry marketers can prepare new strategies that do not rely on third-party cookies:
Maximize first-party data
The key to preparing for the end of third-party cookies is maximizing the utilization of other forms of user data. First-party data, for example, is here to stay for the foreseeable future. This refers to data you collect directly from your audience, as opposed to data that is acquired and sent to you by a third party (a.k.a. third-party cookies).
When a user lands on your website or browses your products, you can collect first-party data through your website analytics or CMS such as Hubspot. Most CMS’s already collect first-party cookies to track demographics like visitor preferences or the amount of times a user has visited your website.
You can also collect first-party data through two increasingly popular channels, which segues into the next tip.
Build your newsletter database
Email opt-ins are among the most effective ways to build first-party data as well as brand loyalty and trust. Believe it or not, nearly 60% of U.S. consumers say marketing emails directly influence their shopping decisions. This makes sense because signing up for an email newsletter denotes that the user has checked out your brand and has willingly agreed to receive more content.
Since the data acquired from email newsletters is so valuable, you may consider giving users a reward in exchange for signing up. One idea might be offering a 10% discount on a user’s first order if they agree to sign up for your newsletter. You can additionally tailor your email campaigns to target specific activities, like abandoning a quotation request.
Ramp up your social media game
Like email marketing, the end of third-party cookies will give B2B social media marketing the opportunity to truly shine. In 2021, an estimated 44% of Instagram users stated they used the platform for purchasing. Once third-party cookies are phased out, more and more B2B brands will most likely increase their reliance on social media or even begin using social media for every step of their marketing funnel.
Each platform offers its own array of analytics and campaign tools for targeting highly specific demographics, like Facebook’s custom audiences feature. This also allows you to develop a separate audience of users who have actively engaged with your brand.
Gather insights from real people
Since privacy is such a major issue with third-party cookies, it’s only logical for brands to take the opposite route and collect data by obtaining explicit permission from the user. This is known as zero-party data. While first-party data is based on insights from analytics and user behaviors, zero-party data results from direct interactions with your audience. Compared to other forms of data, zero-party data is more trustworthy and accurate because users are intentionally sharing their data with your brand.
Arguably the most effective way to collect zero-party data is through interactive funnels such as quizzes and surveys. You can also offer gated content (like a free eBook) in exchange for something of value to the user. This is your chance to tap into your creative side and figure out new ways to solicit direct interactions with your audience. Many brands accomplish this by creating highly personalized and engaging experiences, which can ultimately result in longer customer lifespans.
Establish partnerships with trusted data providers
Thanks to the latest innovations in lead optimization, zero-party data doesn’t have to be the only trustworthy form of user data in your possession. You can significantly enhance the quality of your first-party data as well by investing in marketing platforms that verify and validate insights from user behaviors. This way, you won’t have to worry about sending questionable leads to your sales team or wasting precious time and money on leads that have already converted.
Some of these platforms are even fully prepared for the new standards of privacy, offering consent forms to confirm that users are genuinely interested in learning more about your brand. This is known as consent-based marketing, and it’s another sensible tactic for building custom audiences for hyper-targeted ads.
Improve your SEO
The end of third-party cookies will not affect your website’s searchability. And since general interest for the solar industry is poised for tremendous growth, an increasing amount of organic traffic will be up for grabs. For this reason, marketers should establish a well-optimized web presence that makes it easier to find their products or services through a Google search.
An SEO audit is a great first step to implementing a new SEO strategy capable of achieving measurable results. You should also optimize for long-tail keywords in order to increase your accessibility for users who are interested in your brand’s products or services, as opposed to users who are just looking for general information about the solar industry.
No cookies? No problem!
The end of third-party cookies is just another reason for marketers to continue doing what they do best: improving the user experience by building loyalty and trust. Even if third-party cookies were in no danger of extinction, the aforementioned strategies would still be extremely helpful for solar industry marketers looking to learn as much as possible about their growing audience. You could say that much like the end of third-party cookies, the need to implement these strategic changes is simply an inevitability.
Marketers would be wise to start making changes now if they want their user data to be just as prepared for the future as the visionary brands they represent.
Celeste Roberts is writer at ActiveProspect, a consent-based marketing platform tailored to the solar industry.
— Solar Builder magazine
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