Today, people move deftly between various platforms and channels in a single day, leading to highly fragmented customer data. And when the experience economy standard is providing consistency, this makes it difficult for businesses to present a cohesive experience. 

Into this fractured environment, customer data platforms (CDPs) — which aggregate first-party data to engage customers with personalized experiences across touchpoints — have emerged. They’ve captured marketers’ imaginations with the promise of a unified customer profile available in real time. And with the pending elimination of third-party cookies support from all major browsers, more than ever marketers will need the right tools to help them reimagine the customer experience for individuals rather than anonymous users. 

How can marketers and other digital leaders take advantage of a people-first approach while managing website experiences where anonymous visitors reign? 

In this blog, we’ll take a look at how marketers can engage individual customers by extending their CDP with advanced technologies like AI-driven search for personalization in real time. 

Elimination of Third-Party Cookies and the Rise of CDPs

CDPs have become an essential component of modern marketing, reflected by companies’ accelerated adoption of the platform. Between 2023 and 2030, the CDP market is expected to experience a 24% annual growth rate. Popular CDPs include Adobe Real-Time CDP, SAP Customer Data Platform, Tealium and Salesforce Data Cloud. 

While the growing complexity of customer journeys has certainly driven demand for CDPs, we can also look to the growing need for managing first-party data as our reliance on third-party cookies comes to an end. Decades of targeted advertising is winding down with the termination of third-party cookie tracking in major browsers in efforts to improve user privacy and security.

Safari and Firefox have already taken steps. Chrome is expected to disable third party cookies by the end of 2024. Unlike first-party cookies that stop tracking users once they click out of a site, third-party cookies follow users across the internet. With 75% of marketers worldwide relying heavily on third-party cookies, their elimination has left many marketers feeling frustrated — but not without options.

This new era provides an opportunity to invest in people-based marketing, which centers on engaging with customers at an individual level rather than across a demographic. While third-party data can only target devices, people-based marketing uses first-party data to build a customer profile that persists across devices and channels. It provides your business with opportunities to meaningfully engage with individual customers. 

According to an Epsilon study, marketers are taking steps to prepare for a cookieless future by building a CDP (the top result at 67%) and pursuing first-party data strategies (62%). As marketers wean off their cookie dependency and invest further in first-party data strategies such as building customer profiles, the ultimate path forward is the one which delivers results and is sustainable long-term. 

In making preparations, marketers should be aware of the following trends:  

  • More power to the tech giants. With the deprecation of third-party cookies, the data giants – leaders in digital marketplaces, ecommerce, online communities – will grow even more powerful with the vast amount of first-party data in their possession. They are also the best positioned to execute on people-based marketing due to the amount of user IDs within their properties. Many companies will turn to these “walled gardens” to implement targeted advertising using first-party data through their ecosystems. 
  • Investment in your brand. It is time to focus on the overall holistic perception of the trust in your brand and come up with strategies to incentivize users to log in, leave an email, and lift the veil of anonymity for the sake of enhanced personalized experiences.

How AI Search Supports A First-Party Data Strategy 

The end of third-party cookies means a shift to leaning on first-party data, which is data shared willingly by the customer on a company’s own digital properties. This includes authentication when users sign up for emails or create an account. Afterwards, each action of the customer on the company’s sites can be added to the customer’s profile. In turn, customers receive better experiences whenever they engage with the company. 

But self-identification requires trust. With a strong brand and holistic customer journey approach, companies can build this trust and convert on their digital properties. Companies need a comprehensive view of a customer that enables them to provide meaningful experiences. To that end, CDPs excel by centralizing customer data. 

But brands also need tools to deliver personalized experiences that persuade a customer to self identify. This is where advanced capabilities like AI-powered search become crucial to a first-party data strategy. With AI search, users receive a curated experience in real time through in-session personalizations, making them feel seen by the brand. 

With value perceived at each step, your customers’ trust and satisfaction with the brand grows, leading to an openness to share their information. 

How to Succeed with First-Party Data 

Who will come out on top of the personalization race? the companies who will get ahead and lead will fit into one or more categories below:

  1. Proper conversion tactics on their digital properties. Authentication must be an organic, positive experience. It’s not the feeling of a door slam nor the pop up that the visitor sees upon first visiting the site. It should meet the user a few steps into their journey — especially a high intent individual.
  2. Industries with a high rate of enabling visitors to self identify. Users must  create and sign into their accounts to access important information, exclusive offers and content in sectors such as finance, healthcare and entertainment to fully realize the value from the service.
  3. Brands with strong reputations and loyalty. These companies will provide strong incentives for their visitors when prompting them to log in – credibility, trust, and expectation of quality are strong incentives for conversion.
  4. Savvy implementation of a CDP. Site search is an essential tool in a digital leader’s marchitecture stack. Search analytics provide strong indicators of intent and interest. They also make up a vital part of creating a segment or enriching a user profile. For a successful delivery of personalized customer experiences, the transferring of customer data between a CDP and search must be a two-way street.

    In other words, a CDP provides audiences and profile information while receiving search analytics from the search platform. 

Search as an Essential Tool for a CDP

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the role search plays in enhancing your CDP. Using search functionality with your CDP can lead to greater personalization for improved customer experiences. 

Search is a crucial tool to be used together with CDPs in the following ways:

  • Behavioral insights. Customer search queries can provide powerful insights into customer’s preferences, intent and interests. Organizations can use this information to create customized recommendations and present valuable content.
  • Unified customer data. Aggregating search data with other data sources within a CDP helps build a comprehensive customer profile.
  • Real-time personalization. Companies can use search data to make real-time, dynamic updates to product recommendations or content such as promotions based on the customer’s searches.
  • Predictive search suggestions. AI-powered search can predict customer’s preferences based on historical searches, which in turn is used to make search suggestions that help customers move further along on their journeys.

Leveraging the Coveo Platform with a CDP

An AI-powered search platform like Coveo offers a robust collection of behavioral analytics data. It can transfer search data into a CDP and can ingest data back in real time or in batches after the events already occur. 

Key examples of the synergy between search analytics and a CDP include:

  • A user clicks on a search facet that describes their role (e.g., Digital Analytics Manager). Coveo sends data to the CDP, which segments the user as a business one as compared to a technical profile. If the user is a business profile, the AI model will recommend case studies tied to business value outcomes to convert the user to purchase more products.
  • A user browsing case studies clicks on the facet category “industries” (indicating the prospects’ interests) and then the segment “manufacturing.” Your site could then recommend a demo call with a manufacturing expert.
  • A user asks the question “How to fill and submit a claim form” on an insurance site. Coveo sends the query to the CDP, indicating that a question with the word “form” is likely coming from an existing customer further in the customer journey. The targeting will showcase self-service resources to enable the end user.
  • An online shopper sorts a product listing page by price. Coveo sends the action to a CDP, which will categorize the user as either a “shopper with high propensity to spend” or a “budget shopper.”
  • An online shopper searches for ”Auclair leather ski gloves.” The store does not carry the item, but Coveo informs a CDP about a no-result query, leaving a note on the user ID. Once the item is available, the CDP alerts a campaign tool to send emails to customers who encountered a no-result search previously and bring them on site.

These are just a few examples of the powerful combination of your CDP and Coveo. 

Getting More Out of Your CDP

The first-party cookie landscape offers exciting opportunities for marketers. While a CDP serves as the centralized hub for all of your customer data profiles, a search platform acts on the profiling to deliver practical results. 

Together, a CDP and search technology creates meaningful customer experiences that reach individual, real people for tangible business outcomes. 

Learn more about Coveo. Or, if you’re ready, schedule a demo with a search expert today!

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