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How B2B marketers can survive the end of third-party cookies

It’s no longer breaking news that the third-party cookie is dying. (I promised myself I wouldn’t say “crumbling.”) Apple and Firefox have already restricted their use, and Google is phasing them out over the course of 2021. Between iOS and these desktop browsers, a large portion of your audience can no longer be tracked with third-party cookies.

The trend in B2B marketing over the past five years has been data-driven marketing and ABM, both of which traditionally rely heavily on third-party cookies. Without the help of those trackers, many B2B marketers will need to rethink their investments in data.

Before we get too far, a reminder that first-party cookies are still accessible to marketers. There is still valuable data to monitor and use. What we lose is the retargeting and the long-term tracking that third-party cookies can provide. Since B2B tends to have long sales cycles, the thought of losing data after only a week is enough to keep us up at night.

Fear not, my sleepless marketing friend. While the end of reliance on third-party cookies requires a change in strategy and mindset, it may open broader opportunities for B2B marketers.

Don’t take my word for it, listen to the future of our industry explain it.

On the bright side, research shows that a lot of that data we relied on for the so-called future of personalization is… not even good. A paper from MIT, GroupM, and Melbourne Business School shared by the B2B Institute found that programmatic data gets a person’s gender correct 50% of the time. You might as well flip a coin. And the accuracy of other data, such as age and geography, only decreases as you get more specific.

If you had previously relied on this data to precisely target your buyer persona of women in tech in Miami, ages 40-49, then you might be wondering where all your budget went. Possibly to 28-year-old male bank tellers in Boise.

Instead of over relying on third-party data, try these strategies for B2B marketing in a world without cookies.

How B2B marketers can move on from third-party cookies

Focus on inbound marketing

Develop an inbound marketing strategy focused on high-quality content. Talk to your sales team about what questions your best prospects have, and then create educational content for those buyers. Instead of trying to find the websites that your ideal 42-year-old buyer lands on, bring her directly to you.

The news that Hubspot bought media company The Hustle in early 2021 should have made B2B marketers everywhere pause and evaluate their own media strategy. B2B businesses need to consider becoming media companies.

While blogging and other forms of written content marketing are a cornerstone of any inbound strategy, diversifying the media you create allows you to reach wider audiences. Podcasts, newsletters like The Hustle, and video content are all key to establishing your value prop.

Gather your own data by bringing people value

Some B2B organizations over the past decade seemed to want to replace cold-calling with third-party data. Both methods are expensive, inefficient, and possibly irritating to your target audience. That said, conferences and trade shows can still be a great place to raise brand awareness (without your prospects feeling stalked).

Bring your inbound marketing perspective along with you to any conferences or outbound activities. Your focus needs to be on bringing value to your audience, even if they don’t purchase your product or service. To stand out, have a clear brand voice and perspective. Consider entertaining your audience with quality video content instead of lecturing them. Bring the person value, then gather their information.

Online, people are willing to hand over their data (such as email or job title) as long as they’re getting something of value in return. If your webinars, emails, and whitepapers aren’t worth the price, you’ll lose leads. Make sure you are continually giving people value in return for their data.

Reinvest in brand building

I may have said this a few times now. A strong brand identity is impervious to changes in data collection, privacy laws, or SEO algorithms.

Start to invest in brand building now, before your data completely dries up. A great brand film is an easy way to introduce your brand to prospects on your website and social media. A brand film can also work wonders for internal comms and marketing. We’ve had clients tell us that a brand film is what finally helped everyone in the organization understand what they do and stand for.

And before the lead gen folks come after me, I’m not advocating you dedicate 100% of your marketing budget and activities to brand building. Brand building is a long-term play that should be supplemented with demand gen and lead gen activities. Research shows a 60/40 split of brand and demand marketing delivers the best results. Yes, that means more brand than demand! (That has a good ring to it.)

Using these strategies as a framework to start moving out of the data world and into the brand strategy world. If you want to talk about creating a brand strategy or brand film, reach out to us.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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