Covid-19, the Cookiepocalypse and the Future of Personalized Marketing

Covid-19, the Cookiepocalypse and the Future of Personalized Marketing

by | Dec 18, 2020

From the pandemic to the shakeup of advertising as we know it, 2020 was a time unlike any other. As we usher out the year, we’re hopeful for what’s to come.

Let’s Start with a Retrospective

2020 kicked off as a very promising year for Divining Point.

We expanded our partnerships in Texas and Alaska. Our work within the Travel, Hospitality, and Ecommerce segments increased. We sharpened our focus on complex multichannel marketing. We even honed our strategies for Place Marketing and Public Relations.

In an effort to fine-tune our use of data for smarter marketing, we promoted Paige Perrault to Head of Strategy and Insights. We developed processes for data visualization and deeper understandings of behavior analytics.

As our capabilities grew, so did our need for internal optimization and better processes. We started the hunt for a Project Manager, and by summer we were blessed to hire Kirsten Croft as our chief traffic cop, researcher, voice of reason, and conqueror of clutter.

Along Came the Pandemic

Divining Point has operated as a mostly remote company since its founding in 2013. Our typical hybrid model of meeting in person twice weekly while working remote the rest of the time made it easy for us to shift gears to a fully remote model in the interest of public health.

While the world dealt with the crushing blow of the Covid-19 crisis, we kept our heads down, focused on our work, and seamlessly pivoted to Zoom. Yet, like most people, we felt the lack of connection and isolation that social distancing creates. We did our best to keep pushing on.

Despite the slowdown of the economy and the hemorrhaging of the job market, we escalated our efforts to help our customers successfully move forward with their operations. Fortunately, they stuck with us, doubled down on their marketing, and have managed to weather the storm.

Without in-person meetings, business travel, and social activities, we also committed ourselves to learning and preparation for marketing in a post-pandemic world. 

The Cookiepocalypse

Google announced in January that it was ending the use of cookies on Chrome in 2022. This move followed Firefox and Safari, who already limited the collection of data on their browsers. Not surprisingly, the widespread move to kill cookies resulted in a collective shriek from advertisers and marketers. We were part of the chorus, too.

Nevertheless, the work we did in 2020 prepared us for what’s coming down the pipe.

While some of our clients rely on us to fill the gaps in their marketing strategy, many more count on our full-service capabilities to design a multifaceted approach to drive business through the door. By embracing data, analytics and new ad delivery methods, we’ve engineered new ways to adapt to the inevitable changes ahead.

The major tech players like Google, Facebook and Apple will most certainly offer new tools for targeted advertising. However, the media landscape is vastly more diverse and complex than ever before. We recommend you rethink your approach to engaging your customers.

Streaming, programmatic advertising, contextual targeting, niche social platforms, influencer marketing, public relations and (of course) content already exist as options to position your brand in front of new customers.

Additionally, major retailers and publishers are developing their own advertising solutions using massive databases of first party (opt-in) data. In some ways, digital advertising in 2021 and beyond will take on the characteristics of old-fashioned media buys whereby placements are purchased across a wide collection of websites. What’s old is new again.

Personalized Marketing Is Here to Stay

Many businesses continue to operate with a segmentation mentality based on broad customer personas and a surface level approach to multichannel marketing. But greater control of privacy and the growing demand for personalized experiences puts pressure on businesses to develop a new approach to marketing that is tailored to the individual buyer.

In 2021, omnichannel marketing – or at the very least a more cohesive multichannel strategy – will be required to greet buyers with a consistent message everywhere they choose to engage with your brand. Further analysis of how the buyer behaves when they experience your brand will drive the messaging and methods you use to bring them closer to you over time.

The content you distribute should excite the buyer in a way that leads them to your site where they opt in or sign up for your marketing. The behaviors they exhibit on the website should trigger a series of actions across various channels to reinforce their interest in your products and services. This essentially translates to multiple touchpoints that serve to increase the odds of a conversion, while also improving the customer experience with your brand.

A Story About a Coat

A personal anecdote can demonstrate the power of a personalized marketing strategy.

I frequently travel to colder climates for work. I wanted a tough, lightweight down jacket to replace the bulky wool coat I’ve used for years.

A simple search led me to a review of durable synthetic down coats made for backcountry use. It was there that I learned about a brand who is one of the leading manufacturers of outdoor equipment.

I needed more information, so I went to YouTube and was sucked into a series of high-quality videos featuring the company’s apparel and equipment in real world scenarios. I subscribed to their channel. I explored more reviews from influencers and product testers. I even checked out their social media profiles and followed them.

Not surprisingly, their ads started to appear online.

Eventually, I decided to buy a coat to test it myself. During checkout, I signed up for a loyalty program. Shortly afterwards I received emails and SMS messages with advanced notice of an upcoming sale.

The videos got me excited about the arrival of my coat. They also inspired me to do a complete review of all of my camping equipment, which hadn’t been upgraded in years. I went back to the website and looked at the rest of their catalog. I received emails for the exact products I explored on the website. More ads appeared online.

The coat I received exceeded my expectations.

The discount sale kicked off a week later, and before I knew it, my original $200 purchase turned into $1,500. The comprehensive, personalized and automated approach to marketing shifted my simple desire for a coat into a full-blown overhaul of my camping gear, all within the span of about 8 weeks!

I even put their sticker on my laptop.

2021 Is About Adapting to Change

The story above serves as an example of the possibilities that await businesses of all sizes in the new year. A more personalized and connected approach to engaging your customers vastly increases the likelihood they’ll make a conversion and become brand loyalists. These techniques used to be the playground of major brands with massive budgets. Not anymore.

As a company, Divining Point has embraced change and new technology to develop strategies to overcome big challenges. We did it internally for our company this year, and now we’re doing it for you. We won’t miss 2020, and neither will you, especially with so many great opportunities on the horizon. Here’s to 2021 and beyond!

Ready to take your business to the next level?  Contact us. We’re here to help.