Have you heard of the impending doom of advertising as we know it? 😨
It’s a lot to take in — we’re in the midst of a fundamental shift in the way companies and marketers will have to find customers online. What is that shift, you ask? Well, it’s privacy.
To really understand what’s happening, check out this crazy timeline of events that have happened along with what’s right around the corner. There may be a few other events that helped set our current circumstances in motion, but these are by far the hardest-hitting.
- 2015 – Apple allowed users to block ads in Safari way back on iOS 9
- 2017 – Apple releases a new macOS feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention which limited a cookie’s lifespan to 24 hours in Safari 12 and iOS 11
- 2018 – Webkit releases Storage Access API, which basically only lets cookies work during an informed customer interaction
- 2019 – Googles says it wants to build a “more private web”
- 2020 – Apple announces full third-party cookie blocking
- 2020 – Google says they want to completely eliminate cookies by 2022
- 2021 – Apple rolls out App Tracking Transparency, blocks third-party tracking by default
- 2021 – Facebook starts to hate Apple
- 2021 – Google delays total cookie annihilation until at least 2023
So, what did we learn? Apple wants the utmost privacy for its userbase, social media companies whose ad models mostly rely on tracking their massive userbases lose around $10 billion, and Google agrees with Apple but thinks the timeline is too fast to be handled responsibly. But then there’s the whole Facebook and Google collusion against Apple thing. 🤷♀️
To quote Rufus Scrimgeour: “These are dark times, there is no denying.”
Ok. Deep breaths now…
So, now what? What is a business to do now that tracking user data is severely hindered? We obviously don’t want to be digital Peeping Toms or Godivas, but we still have businesses to run and stuff to sell.
Well, let us tell you about… 🥁
The Best Tools for Cookieless Customer Acquisition
What did we do before anything we could ever want to know about our customers was merely a click away?
Oh yeah! We collected our own data! 💪
In photography, it’s advised to have a portfolio website outside of social media lest our social environments fall to ruin. When designing your social media strategies, both organic and paid efforts need to have a backup plan. This is a fundamental principle that we live by here at Endurance, but others — well, they’re not so lucky.
There are many different ad platforms, but the two biggest are Google and Facebook. And while an omnichannel approach is best to cover all of your bases, fundamentally, they couldn’t be further apart.
To keep it simple, Google offers two main paths while Facebook mainly offers one. With Google, you can take the organic route and utilize your blog to write meaningful content to help boost on-site SEO and rank higher in Google searches or tap into your local markets with a free Google Business Profile. And of course, paid ads. We won’t get into YouTube right now, but it’s a pretty big deal. Facebook, on the other hand, is basically only paid ads, although you get access to roughly 3 billion users.
If the answer is to collect our data, what’s the best way to do that? And once we have that data, how can we use it in a way that will benefit us the most?
The newest iteration of the renowned analytical tool is Google Analytics 4. Specifically, GA4 was introduced to help with the cookieless future. It does this by eliminating reliance on third-party cookies while focusing on first-party cookies on your website or app. It’s also centered around event tracking instead of site sessions and pageviews. We recommend setting up a separate account for GA4 and testing versus your current GA account to really understand the differences.
Benefits of Tracking Events
An event is any designated action or set of actions that will occur on your site or in your app — think video views, page scrolls, length of content engagement, etc. If we want to measure how long someone watches a specific video, we can easily create a measurable event that calculates total playtime, when they stopped watching, where they went after seeing the video, and a lot more.
This data is then compiled for us and we can use it to determine how effective that particular piece of content is and if we need to make any adjustments.
Google Search Console and the Intent of Your Content
The Google Search Console is beneficial in that it helps determine what words specifically brought a user to our site in the first place. You can use it to build reports showing trends, clickthrough rates, user device type, and so much more.
Using this data will help you identify which pages are performing and which aren’t. For example, a page with high impressions and a low clickthrough rate could indicate that you’ve got a bad title or meta description and should rewrite it. The Google Search Console can also detect page and server errors that could also be leading to poor page performance.
The Intent of Your Content
Part of the cookieless web is a stronger reliance on first-party data, meaning the data that you’ll collect yourself. And in order to start collecting more data that’s actually useful to our marketing efforts, we need to decide if our content is going to be informational or transactional.
Imagine you’re a company that sells outdoor running shoes. You’ve got an e-mail list that you want to increase signups for, and to lure people in, you decide to give away a free guide on running trails in Colorado. 50 people click your link and signup for the guide, but only one person buys a new pair of shoes.
The issue isn’t that the content was necessarily bad, it just had the wrong intent. This content was designed to provide information, in this case, cool running trails. But you didn’t present the content in a way that demonstrates the value of your shoes or why people should buy them. Come to think of it, you didn’t even really mention running shoes at all.
Instead, if the goal is to sell something, we need to create transactional content.
So, same scenario as above, but this time we release a case study on how your running shoes helped to reduce injuries during trail running vs a competitor’s shoe by 28%. You’ve got facts, you’ve got data, and you’ve got a demonstration of value. This content got only received 30 signups but resulted in 8 pairs of shoes being sold which is an effective conversion rate of about 27%. Not too shabby, right?
Remember that when you or your partner agency create content, you need to decide on the intent first. This is the only true way to measure if its goal was successful.
Marketing Ears — How to Effectively Spy and Utilize Social Listening
Is our competition successfully getting customers and crushing sales? Good for them. 😤
Maybe they’ve discovered some sneaky keywords that are converting like crazy and have weak competition. No worries, we’ll try to figure out what those are and either utilize the same phrases or discover even better ones.
This devilish little tool lets us see what keywords are ranking well for our competition via Google and other inbound sources. This includes organic leads as well as the ability to see their full Google Ads campaigns and campaign history. Plus, it helps your SEO efforts by analyzing multiple data points and recommending useful tactics and changes.
Effectively generate awesome long-tail keywords using the power of Google’s Autocomplete feature. While we recommend the paid version especially if you’d like to have the same power but for other sites like YouTube and Bing, the free version is still really good since it can generate up to 750 suggestions.
Using the power of AI and machine learning, Quantcast gives you live data from over 100 million data sources online. This software gives users superhuman levels of insight into customer behavior and allows you to quickly create and compare different audience types. Since third-party data can be stale and weeks old, Quantcast delivers fresh up-to-the-minute straight out of the internet’s oven. This means knowing what makes your customers tick while they’re ticking instead of wanting to know their ticks after they’ve already…tocked. 😐
Ears to the Ground
So those are just a few of our favorite tools to use for keywords. It’s powerful stuff, to be sure. But what about all of your social media accounts? That’s where social media listening comes up to bat.
It’s not enough to just have a profile on all of the social platforms. With all of that meticulously tracked data about to go extinct, our best bet is to go directly to the source. Tools like Falcon.io and Mention allow you to find out who’s talking about you on what sites and in what context.
For example, we love being mentioned online (totally not vain 🤩), but we really love when people talk about needing help with marketing. With these tools, we can watch out for certain phrases or keywords that could help us either design better, more focused ads or present opportunities where we can better engage with our audiences, both existing and (hopefully) new.
And That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles
Our reliance on cookies and third-party data are coming to an end. We’ve relied on it for far too long and, if we want to continue succeeding, need to reprioritize exactly we engage with our customers online. This starts with creating better content that’s actually valuable to your customers.
It has been a fun run, though. 😭
Of course, we’re always here for you no matter what your content needs may be. Or for a shoulder to cry on. 😥