How can personalization and data privacy co-exist?

The cookie apocalypse rolls on, threatening our personalization and targeted ad efforts.

Google said it will block third-party cookies in Chrome soon, and that it won’t support any of the industry proposals for replacements.

This is something I predicted in my book Marketing Rebellion. Any time marketers take advantage of consumers, the consumers will revolt, and they will eventually win. The privacy moves by Apple and Google are simply a response to the inevitable.

There’s a lot at stake — online advertising is a $300 billion business and it pays for half the web!

My friends at SoloSegment recently produced an exceptional research piece addressing this issue and it’s a must-read for digital marketers. The research not only lays out the problem, it proposes a practical solution — predictive personalization. (I am an unpaid advisor to Solo Segment and was not paid for this post).

The threat is imminent

A few highlights from this research report:

  • SoloSegment documents that consumers are taking privacy into their own hands. More than 50 percent regularly delete cookies and nearly half use private browsing windows. About 45 percent use ad-blocking software.
  • Specifically for B2B, research shows that gated content requiring personal information is a turn-off. About 70 percent indicate it turns them away from the site (in B2C the number can be much higher!).
  • The pandemic has necessitated digital research over personal selling. Two-third of the U.S. workforce is working from home at least part of the time.
  • A younger generation of purchasing professionals prefers online research over live presentations. At least 70 percent of the buyer’s journey is completed before any contact with sales and that number is on the rise. 82 percent review at least five pieces of content on your site before buying.
  • These online researchers are impatient. 88 percent won’t return if the design is poor or they can’t find what they need. On the other hand, a useful site can increase conversions by 200 percent. McKinsey showed dramatic increases in revenue through intelligent product recommendations.

Now comes the tricky part. In 2020, 76 percent of B2B buyers said they have increased expectations around personalized and tailored online solutions. Of course they do! Studies also indicate that providing personalized website experiences can increase sales by 19 percent.

How can we possibly meet these expectations … without collecting data?

Anonymized personalization

As marketers, we’re expending enormous efforts to draw people to our websites. There is an urgent need for web conversion excellence, especially now that so much of the selling effort is occurring online.

Luckily, technology is saving the day. It IS possible through Artificial Intelligence to provide tailored, respectful personalized experiences without collecting personal information.

Predictive analytics is now being employed in sports, entertainment, and scientific endeavors. Through Solo Segment, it’s now available for your website, too.

The company’s AI-powered website engagement technology can use anonymous information (such as location, device, historical behavior, and referral source) to identify visitor intent, the potential to purchase, and more.

Armed with this information, companies can automate and optimize content, workflows, and engagement opportunities that are personalized to a potential buyer. And with machine learning, the process improves over time, resulting in better conversion rates.

What’s more, the anonymous data leveraged by this technology will never be regulated and ensures
you are offering the right content to the right visitor at the right time.

The SoloSegment product, GuideBox, incorporates predictive personalization so users find exactly what they need before they know they need it. It accelerates content discovery and enables effortless navigation — the website does all the work behind the scenes.

There do not seem to be a lot of workarounds to the cookie apocalypse which is why I’m excited by this idea, which is now being applied at many companies with immediate results.

I recommend you learn as much as you can right now to prepare for the new marketing era right in front of us, and a good place to start is the SoloSegment research report.

I appreciate you and the time you took out of your day to read this! You can find more articles like this from me on the top-rated {grow} blog and while you’re there, take a look at my Marketing Companion podcast and my keynote speaking page. For news and insights find me on Twitter at @markwschaefer and to see what I do when I’m not working, follow me on Instagram.

The illustration for this post is an image I had commissioned for the book Marketing Rebellion.

Originally published at on March 29, 2021.

Keynote speaker, strategy consultant, Rutgers University marketing faculty and author of 9 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Cumulative Advantage.

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