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Treat Your Customers Like Cookies and They'll Crumble

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Global Head of Content , Emarsys

Let’s start by saying cookies are an essential part of a marketer’s daily diet; those small crumbs of data, baked up when a user visits your site and stored in the user’s web browser. When a user comes back to your site for seconds their browser serves the cookie back to the site, along with data on the user’s previous site activity.

OK, enough with the “cookie” word play. Cookies are packed with sweet chips of data. OK, seriously, I’ll stop.

Recording useful information about your user’s actions on your site is a very powerful tool. Pages they visited, items they’ve added to their shopping cart, and how long they lingered on certain product pages all help you build a more engaging customer experience, ushering shoppers along the purchase path.

But your customers are more than just the data captured in cookies.

In today’s multichannel, multi-device world of connected commerce, consumers expect more immediate and relevant experiences, products and offers. The barrage of shopper and purchaser data can be so overwhelming for marketers that it can be easy to treat your shoppers like data points rather than unique individuals.

We’ve all had that experience where we’ve looked at an item, purchased it, and later saw an ad with that exact same item, often at a discount. With cookie only retargeting you’re creating a poor customer experience that could end up hurting your brand more than helping.

To create the best customer experience it’s critical to target your ads based on what you know about the customer, and not just what they clicked on. By connecting retargeting cookies with personal data you know about your customer such as what they like, what they’ve previously purchased or how often they buy from you, you’re creating a much better customer experience.

Instead of identifying your shoppers as cookie-based data values, you need to create a unified profile that transcends device and channel. This expanded perspective will allow you to create more personalized experiences, no matter what device they’re using or where they are shopping.

Personalized recommendations that match a visitor’s known characteristics, interests and shopping preferences are an excellent way for marketers to start treating their customers as people rather than cookies. The data that you’ve collected can open the doors to powerful segmentation opportunities and improve your reporting capabilities.

  • Quality of personalized recommendations.The more you learn about your customers, the better you can recommend the right products to them at the right time and place.
  • Quantity of data for segmentation.Increased insight into customers’ site behavior helps to create more relevant messaging.
  • Improved sales tracking. Accurately assessing revenue attribution to understand which tactics create the most return on your investment.

When it comes to your most valuable customers, they’re going to expect even more from you. You need to reach these loyal customers in ways that make an impact and keep them coming back to buy again.

This data will help you to better identify your site visitors, and give them a fully personalized browsing experience. As the visitor shops, personalized product recommendations, including items similar to those they’ve previously viewed, can be shown alongside those they’re currently viewing. These recommendations aren’t limited to the site. They can also be shown in emails and in display ads. A couple of examples include:

  • Personalized recommendations in the inbox . Any email campaign can be improved by personalizing content. This can lead to up to five times more clicks than batch-and-blast, one-size-fits-all content.
  • Repurchase campaigns. Target existing customers with relevant products and upsells based on their most recent orders.
  • Abandoned cart campaigns. Place proven related products alongside abandoned items for better cross- and up-sell opportunities.
  • Enhanced browsing experience. Update recommendations on your site while the visitor is browsing and in search results. This can lead to up to four times more conversions.

By going beyond simple cookie-related data, you’ll be able to create unified profiles to better identify each customer across all your marketing channels. With an advanced personalization strategy you’ll be able to capture subtle, deeper relationships that only get better as customers interact with your site.

Failing to give your shoppers the personalized shopping experiences they expect will lead to shoppers leaving your site and seeking better experiences from your competitors. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.