While privacy is the marketing buzzword of the decade, most marketers look at growing privacy constraints as a roadblock to meaningful growth analytics insights. After all, if Google is getting rid of third-party cookies in Chrome, iOS keeps making tracking harder and privacy blockers are becoming the norm, how is marketing going to do its job?
5 Tips for Marketing in a Privacy-Driven Climate
- Ask the questions your competitors aren’t.
- Leverage server-side tracking for complete data collection.
- Use digital fingerprinting to piece together user profiles.
- Use a campaign influence strategy that values all touch points.
- De-anonymize web visitors with reverse-hashing tools.
Before these interesting times, the dot com era presented the most significant change in marketing. These days, we’re facing two looming giants at the same time: privacy and artificial intelligence. While marketing teams love talking about AI-generated copy because it’s a sexy new topic, too many are simply admitting defeat on the analytics front.
Ask Better Questions
The key to out-innovating marketing challenges, conditions and competitors is to ask better questions. While others are worried about third-party cookies, ask yourself what you can do to move to first-party cookies. Rather than asking if your team values first-click attribution or last-click attribution more, ask yourself how you’ll attribute campaign values across multi-touch funnels. Your career and success are predicated solely on your ability to ask better questions.
To that end, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: attribution. Every marketing team has multiple campaigns going on at once across the sales cycle. Examples include:
- Top of funnel: Cold advertising, content marketing and social media
- Middle of funnel: Digital engagement, downloadable content and events
- Bottom of funnel: Demos, sales calls and purchases
It’s almost guaranteed that your prospect will interact with your brand across multiple devices, channels and campaigns throughout your marketing funnel. Even if you have analytics set up across all of your channels, you end up with fragmented data, partial user profiles and mixed insights.
Use Server-Side Tracking
You can overcome attribution privacy restrictions with two technologies.
The answer to third-party cookie restrictions is to switch to server-side tracking, also known as first-party cookies. These cookies are set by the domain the user is visiting. This concept sounds complicated, but it’s nearly the same setup. The difference is that the triggered analytics events are collected and recorded on your server as opposed to a user’s browser.
User privacy settings have no bearing on your server; therefore, this is by far the most accurate way to nail down attribution, analytics and behavioral insights.
Use Digital Fingerprinting
While your server collects piles of data, it’s still fragmented data. However, the concept of digital fingerprinting is piecing data together across fragmented sources. With a data warehouse (again, simpler than it sounds), you’re able to start drawing correlations between user devices, channels and more.
Within a relatively high degree of accuracy, you can create full behavioral, demographic and technographic profiles.
Use Campaign Influence Modeling
While the technologies above are your solution to capture where someone came from, your puzzle-solving digital fingerprint technology still leaves questions unanswered. Your user, almost 100 percent of the time, is going to enter your funnel from multiple points. How do you value each referring source, marketing campaign, etc.?
First-click and last-click models are not helpful in today’s climate. These attribution models only value the first or last entry point of a user and assign all your campaign values to that specific source. Whether you’re using GA4 or another analytics tool, good analytics platforms offer a range of attribution models, such as:
- Time decay: Considers the duration between funnel entry-points and the time spent interacting with your digital properties from each source.
- Linear attribution: This considers all attribution sources of a user and equally distributes the value across each and every channel.
- Cross-channel data-driven: While many analytics tools have their own version of this, this model is specific to GA4. It’s an AI algorithm that considers attribution sources, timing, engagement and just about every other characteristic you can think of.
The idea behind these models is you’re able to evaluate sources across the funnel. For example, a middle-of-funnel campaign might not result directly in a conversion. However, that specific campaign might show up before every bottom-of-funnel conversion event. Therefore, some value needs to be assigned to the MoF campaign. It’s valuable and encourages conversions, even if it’s not the last step. It’s a campaign you should keep investing in.
De-Anonymize Web Visitors
De-anonymizing visitors without an opt-in is the last strategy in nailing down advanced marketing analytics in a privacy-driven market. While this seems like it would raise every privacy red flag, if it’s done correctly, it won’t.
Marketing tools have been providing insights into what companies are on your website for years through basic IP addresses and reverse DNS lookups. Tools like Traffic Intel use a concept called reverse-hashing. It identifies the email associated with the browser of users, then compares it with partner databases to identify email accounts with past opt-in history. So, even though someone might have opted into partner marketing two years ago on someone else’s website, companies are able to capture and communicate with that prospect legally.
Every day, people who need your offerings visit your site, only to slip into the dark without any way to reach them again. Now, communicate directly with your prospects without the friction of an opt-in.
Marketing Analytics in 2023 and Beyond
The market will become even more challenging when it comes to attribution, analytics and data collection. We’re emerging from the early-adopter stage of these strategies into a mainstream trend. Those who don’t get on board with privacy-compliant advanced marketing analytics are going to fall behind and will have to spend more than the competition to acquire every new customer.