To get a bigger piece of the pie, you need a cookie

Posted by Opinion desk on 15 May, 2012 / Features

By Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration

Data about customers is perhaps one of the most fiercely contested and important resources in today’s marketing environment. Everyone wants it, customers are wary of sharing it, and yet few marketers are really using it to its full potential. 

Customer data in the online world all starts with the humble cookie – that tasty little text file stored on your customer’s PC that contains a wealth of information about what he or she has been doing online. 

It may be a third-party cookie, served up by a publisher you advertise with or a first party cookie that you serve from your own site, but it contains lots of information that can boost your marketing performance. 

Provided you can get the customer’s permission to collect data using cookies, there is a lot you can do with this information. By tracking customer behaviour with cookies, you can display advertisements that are linked to people’s Web-browsing behaviour, such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have conducted. 

Thus, you can deliver ad content to users based on their behaviour, the environment they are in and the content they are looking at. We have talked about this for years, but the technology to segment and target users by behaviour has matured to a point where it produces rich information and is relatively easy to use. 

It’s all about more targeted advertising – which benefits companies by allowing them to improve advertising performance and benefits consumers by giving them more relevant information. With the right information at hand, companies can up- and cross-sell more effectively to customers based on their online behaviour and demographic data they have at hand. 

Marketers can take their ability to target customers a step further when they begin to integrate cookie data with other platforms and data sources to get a more complete and integrated view of the customer. 

The challenge for marketers is to combine cookie data with other data sources, including offline CRM, eCRM and email databases, to build a more complete understanding of each customer that helps you earn a bigger share of his or her wallet. 

The world that you should be preparing for as a market is one where you are selling to an audience in real-time based on data that you own, control and have access to.  If you are not gathering and leveraging all the data you have at your disposal, you are leaving space for a competitor to talk to your customer with more relevant messaging than you are. And once that happens, you are letting someone else eat your slice of the pie.

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