Apple’s long awaited App Tracking Transparency feature has arrived, and with it acceleration of the death of the third-party cookie. Magith Noohukhan, Customer Engagement Evangelist at Braze discusses why marketers shouldn’t be concerned about App Tracking Transparency opt outs.
Last month, Apple released its app tracking transparency tool, enabling users to take control of their data as part of its iOS 14.5 roll-out. Therefore, marketers are, perhaps rightly, worrying about the challenges mass opt-outs will pose for customer engagement.
Since the new software was launched, 96% of US users opted out of letting apps track their activity, essentially removing brands’ access to third-party data. There’s no denying that this causes a shift to the ways marketers have been creating customer communications until now. But this new privacy feature might be an exciting opportunity for brands to stop relying on third-party data. The secret? Making the most of the first-party data they already have.
First-party data is willingly and knowingly shared by customers when they use a brand’s app or website (for instance, agreeing to receive push notifications or agreeing to share location when using your app). Recently, consumers have criticised the use of third-party data for privacy reasons. Yet, 90% of them would share their behavioural data with brands for a more seamless shopping experience.
Third-party data, on the other hand, is usually anonymous and collected by an external entity. This means it isn’t directly linked to individual customers. While useful to paint a broad picture of large audiences, third-party data doesn’t help with creating personalised communications. Besides, consumers are becoming more privacy-conscious these days. They might feel wary about brands collecting data on their activity without their knowledge or explicit consent.
One of the best-known examples of a brand successfully using first-party data is Bloom & Wild. Based on purchasing patterns and direct customer feedback, the brand noticed that some consumers found events like Mother’s or Father’s Day upsetting. To avoid sending those customers insensitive emails, Bloom & Wild worked with Braze to enable customers to opt-out of communications around special days they found upsetting. Instead, those customers received tailored emails which made no mention of the special day. This campaign proved highly successful, not only in terms of immediate interest but also longer-term engagement. Nearly 18,000 customers opted-out of the 2019 Mother’s Day Bloom & Wild campaign. But on the day the opt-out campaign kicked off, customer interaction with Bloom & Wild on Twitter more than quadrupled (from an average of 4-5% to 20%). And, perhaps its biggest success, the campaign led to the creation of the Thoughtful Marketing Movement, which encourages brands to communicate with their customers sensitively. To this date, over 130 brands have joined the movement.
As consumers regain control over their information, now is the time for brands to harness the power of first-party data. This will help them redefine the way they engage with customers through impactful, personalised and relevant communications.
Here are my five top tips for getting this right:
1. Be human, always – always treat your customers as individuals with unique wants and needs. This is how you’ll be able to build lasting emotional experiences across your touchpoints.
2. Real-time must be literal – real-time has become a buzzword these days, and few companies take it literally. But to meet the first-party-centric moment, brands need to get their information end-to-end and act on data in real-time.
3. Get the right technology partners – having the right technology on board will help streamline your data collection and activation. This will enable you to test and experiment campaigns quicker, based on customers’ evolving needs, demands, and behaviours.
4. Don’t fall into the data for data’s sake trap – yes, first-party data is a fantastic tool for brands. But brands shouldn’t be collecting any and all data just because they can. Instead, they should always be clear about their intention when collecting data, so their customers know exactly which data will be collected and to what purpose. This will give consumers control over their information and increase transparency, vital to building long-term loyalty and trust. And on that note…
5. Building loyalty is a marathon, not a race – customer retention is less expensive and challenging than focusing on acquisition. To foster long-term loyalty, brands must build consistent customer engagement strategies that always reflect each customer’s lifecycle journey.
We’re entering the era of first-party data, and the possibilities are enormous for brands. Customers are now expecting the kind of brand experience that first-party data can create, so now is the time for brands to harness its power. This is how successful brands will be able to navigate a world where third-party data belongs to a bygone era.
By Magith Noohukhan
Customer Engagement Evangelist