Cookieless Commerce Blog Post

No More Cookies In The Marketing Cookie Jar?

With privacy driven concerns moving Google and Apple away from continued use of the third-party cookie to track an individual’s browsing activity, stores are faced with a challenge.

They need to figure out new ways to provide personalized eCommerce experiences, while accommodating shoppers’ data privacy concerns, before their competitors beat them to it!

Guided shopping is the solution.

Guided Shopping Explainer Image (No More Cookie)

While it requires more reflection and setup than simply buying ad eyeballs, the return on investment is higher long term and the switch away from third-party cookies is leaving stores with few other choices. 

Guided shopping is also useful for brand building, a major reason brands develop their own websites in the first place and sell outside of Amazon. 

Brand still matters and, moreover, customer experience is still a vastly underleveraged competitive advantage.


Digital marketers are throwing around terms like “Doomsday and “Adpocalypse” when referring to Apple and Google’s dramatic shift away from the third-party cookie.

Apple’s iOS 14 app tracking transparency features are enabling smartphone users to opt-out of being tracked. 

Google and Apple are beginning to limit 3rd party cookie use. Google Chrome is preparing to phase out the third-party cookie by 2023. 

Further, as of iOS 15, a whole host of other pro-privacy anti-tracking (anti-cookie) features will become available.

The fact that only around 4% of users have opted into the tracking functions of iOS as of April 2021 is not unexpected – shoppers don’t like being tracked.

Facebook has been a vocal opponent to the iOS change, since it will impact its ability to offer targeting to advertisers. Go figure!

iOS 14 Facebook Opt-In Popup (Cookie Ban)

Ad platforms are no longer getting all of the data they require to enable accurate tracking and targeting. Shoppers continuously change devices and browsers like Safari already actively block tracking, with Chrome following suit shortly.

On top of this, ad platforms are unable to “talk” to each other. This results in each platform taking credit for sales they had absolutely nothing to do with. As a result, marketers are now plagued with inaccurate marketing attribution data. This is dramatically hindering their ability to make accurate decisions and is leading to quite a bit of wasted ad spend.

At the same time, regulations like the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) and Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) have granted consumers significantly more rights, such as understanding how their data is used and revoking permissions to use that data.

Consistently, brands that rely on paid media to drive traffic to their website, and that don’t change with the times, will see a serious impact to their marketing programs.

The death of the third-party cookie is causing some brands to see upwards of a 30% reduction in attributed revenue for pixel-based retargeting audiences, while other brands are faced with entirely reworking their multi-touch attribution modeling.

This reality is forcing marketers and eCommerce teams to quantify the impact for their own brands and to create a new strategy less reliant on third-party cookies.

Google’s decision to deprecate third-party cookies on its Chrome browser has sent shockwaves through the digital marketing world.

With much of the industry heavily dependent on these cross-site digital identifiers for tasks such as targeting and remarketing, the search is well underway for alternative methods to locate and track target audiences online.

How are marketers responding?

In response, marketers are scrambling to find new ways to provide a personalized ecommerce experience while respecting shoppers’ data privacy concerns. 

In the “good old days”, marketers used third-party cookies to track a shopper’s browsing activity across third-party sites. 

This tracking enabled retargeting of web visitors with ads even after they left the store’s website.

The death of the third-party cookie is effectively forcing stores to pivot from non-consensual tracking to Zero-Party Data and Guided Shopping.

The Guided Shopping approach involves automated one-on-one engagements with customers to glean their preferences and develop trust. 

With Guided Shopping, brand marketers learn who their customers and prospects are rather than rely on anonymized data passed through advertisement technology vendors.

Without third-party cookies, ecommerce professionals are being forced to rethink their strategies for ad retargeting, cross-channel attribution (tracking the impact of individual touchpoints), and measuring ad impressions.

In one survey, 49% of industry professionals listed cookie deprecation as their top media challenge in 2021.  

Most brands do not have a sufficient direct replacement for the digital advertising attribution models to measure the performance of their ad programs or extended reach of personalization to drive more engagement and revenue afforded by third-party cookies.

That will leave most marketers taking a step backward to the early days of ecommerce and digital, relying on generic historical data.

With the move away from targeting individual shoppers, the onus is now on brands to create value propositions that entice customers to willingly share their data, knowing they will receive something in return. 

Zero-party data gathered directly and consensually from customers allows retailers to understand them at a deeper level, and personalize the shopping experience for their specific needs.

Zero-Party Personalized Product Example (Cookie Not Needed)

The upside is that such zero-party data, i.e., data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand such as preferences, is future proof. 

This data will always be available and is not subject to any upcoming regulatory or platform changes with regards to consumer privacy because zero-party data is used to help brands build direct, consenting relationships with their customers.

Guided Shopping to the rescue!

As they say, every challenge is an opportunity.

Guided Shopping is the solution that can advance both measurement attribution and personalization beyond what marketers were able to achieve with third-party cookies. 

Instead of presenting shoppers a dry questionnaire when they arrive on your website, the guided shopping approach involves initiating a conversational dialogue by asking pointed, engaging, click-based questions in a conversational format to deduce a consumer’s specific interests.

And it works! 

The key is to position data sharing as a valuable exchange with a clear outcome for the customer.  According to Forrester, 57% of consumers would share data in exchange for personalized offers. 

By way of example, Lashify, Decoratorsbest, and Colorescience engage shoppers in a quiz-like conversation and provide shoppers with personalized recommendations based on their responses.

These experiences were designed to enable new customers to self-identify their preferences in order to receive personalized recommendations.

For example, Colorscience’s website visitors are greeted by the site’s engaging Guided Shopping experience. One of the questions presented is: “How would you best describe your skin?” 

Guided Shopping Colorescience Skin Type Question

Shoppers who engage with Colorescience’s Guided Shopping experience are 2.92x more likely to convert than shoppers who don’t.

Prior to displaying product recommendations, many brands extend discounts to customers in exchange for their email address and/or phone number.

This allows them to associate collected zero-party data with that shopper’s profile in marketing platforms like Klaviyo. 

With that said, we find that with Guided Shopping, while a discount can never hurt, shoppers are usually happy to volunteer their email address and/or phone number after engaging in a useful conversation with a Guided Shopping experience without any other direct incentive. 

Special offers can also be tied to other types of information sharing, e.g., age group, etc.

Preference and product recommendation data is saved within Klaviyo as Custom Properties and can then be leveraged to personalize Flows, build dynamic segments, and much more.

By way of example, Colorescience leverages collected zero-party data to personalize their marketing and website content to each shopper’s expressed wants and needs.

Colorescience Klaviyo Customization

Research by Deloitte shows that 79% of consumers are willing to share their data if there’s a clear benefit for them.  

The future of Guided Shopping is promising

Using zero-party data, ecommerce brands can continue to offer the same level of personalization that was possible prior to recent cookie and privacy-related changes.

In fact, leveraging a Guided Shopping experience can dramatically improve personalization. 

Guided Shopping provides an engaging one-on-one on site experience that encourages customers to share information in order to improve their shopping experience.

Beyond asking customers questions and curating product recommendations based on their specific responses, a sophisticated Zero-Party Data and Guided Shopping platform should ideally leverage your experience with your store’s products and data collected from all of your shoppers to help you recommend products, guide shoppers and avoid cart abandonment.

Additionally, over time the Zero-Party Data collected through Guided Shopping means more targeted personalization in owned marketing channels. 

By way of example, when a new product launches, you can send an early access link to customers who have engaged with your Guided Shopping experience and expressed interest before.

Further, around holiday time, you can send emails to those who have engaged in one of your Guided Shopping gift finder flows and purchased a gift previously. 

Guided Shopping and zero-party data can be your competitive edge!

To survive in today’s competitive online landscape, stores absolutely need to assure an online shopping experience which is as good as, if not better than, what customers experience in-store.  

And this is absolutely key, because many customers who begin their shopping journey are not sure what to buy. 

It is also critical when the products being purchased are complex or technical in nature.  Without Guided Shopping, you’ll lose these online customers first.

In fact, about 90% of consumers start research and shopping online, but just about 14% of sales actually happen online.

Plus, while 27% of hard-earned web traffic arrives on a site planning to purchase, just 2-3% of these visitors actually convert.

When compared to the average conversion rate for traditional in-store commerce, which ranges between 15 and 30%, this statistic is unacceptable.

And now, with the change in third-party cookies, simply buying eyeballs to target en masse is becoming even less attractive.

Focusing on talking to your customers at scale 24/7 through Guided Shopping, where zero-party personalization is at the core of the relationship, can drive dramatic increases in conversion rate and very real, solid return on investment.

Teams that can capitalize on the opportunity to use zero-party data will be well positioned to exceed their goals and even surpass previous benchmarks.

We invite you to explore Gobot’s zero-party data platform. Click here to request a demo.

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