March 4, 2021

Don't Cry When the Digital Marketing Cookie Crumbles

The days of the cookie are ending. Digital marketing will need to rely more on insight driven marketing if we want to drive sales

Old Dog, New Tricks

Even in a cookie-less world, the strategies that drive great marketing will not change. We can no longer toss everything in and let the algorithm sort it out. We will actually have to do some real marketing.

You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel

The psychology behind marketing will be the same tomorrow as it is today for one fundamental reason. Human psychology changes slowly. This is good news because a brilliant marketing strategy that worked in the pre-digital era can still help us today and in the future.

Marketing Strategy Development

You Will Need to Work Harder for Real Insights

Some marketers and advertisers have become dependent on advertising platform algorithms to do the heavy lifting for us. In a post-cookie world, we can no longer rely on third parties.

Without cookies, digital advertising is likely to become less efficient. Therefore, pushing out a message and letting the algorithm find the best will become more expensive and less reliable.   

We have seen the signs of this shift in both Facebook and Instagram advertising. We will have to shift our gears to ensure the message is motivating before we spend, not after.

All Is Not Lost. There are Proven Methods that Work.

Human nature does not change. People are still motivated by the same emotions that they always have been. Fortunately for us, there are tested and proven techniques we can leverage to help us uncover what those are for our target.

It All Starts With Defining the Right Target Audience 

Targeting requires more than just basic demographics. It requires a deeper understanding of the market. For instance, it is important to understand the different market segments and how each meets specific needs. 

Market Segmentation Digital Marketing Strategy

Market Segmentation is the First Step in Defining the Right Target Audience

We define a market segment as a group of customers who share one or more common characteristics, are distinct from the rest of the market, and will react to the market in similar ways.

For example, if you consider the skincare market, there are several different audience segments fulfilling different needs. There is an anti-aging segment that focuses on reducing the signs of aging mainly on the face. There is the medical segment that fulfills the needs of people with skin conditions such as eczema.

This creates a dilemma. Like the skin care market, there are always many ways to segment a market, so the challenge is to uncover the right way to segment the market for your product or service.

Identifying the Right Target Market is the Next Step 

Segmenting the market is helpful, but it is not enough. We need to find the right market segment for our brand. The right segment, or the target market, is the segment where our product or service provides a valuable and unique/competitive solution that solves the needs of the segment.

For example, someone in their 40s and 50s is likely to put a higher value on reducing the effects of aging than someone in their 20s. In contrast, teens and young adults may place more value on reducing blemishes and acne than their older counterparts.

Target Market Checklist Digital Marketing Strategy

Creating a Persona for the Target Market

This is the last step in defining the target audience. We base a persona on observed patterns and behaviors of the people in the target market. It is the “average” consumer. He or she has the typical characteristics of the market. 

A persona needs to be authentic enough to be believable by a member of the target group. It cannot be a stereotype. If you resort to stereotyping, your effort is unlikely to be effective.

Persona Digital Marketing Strategy

Crafting a Motivating Message  

There are two crucial steps in developing a motivating message. The first is developing an insight. The second is positioning your product or service so that it is clear how you are providing a meaningful benefit in a differentiated way.

Any Effective Marketing Campaign Builds on an Insight

An insight expresses the emotional need of the target which, when met, has the power to change the target’s behavior. This may seem like a lofty goal or improbable. But they exist, and they are powerful.

Strong Brands are Built on Insights

For example, the MAGA phenomenon, I believe, is tied to a very real insight regarding the fear of change and what that change might mean to the perceived social status of the target audience. We have all seen the effects on behavior when that fear is triggered and its enduring hold even when presented with facts.

Insights can change behavior. Without cookies to do the heavy lifting, all marketers will have to become more adept in how to find them and leverage them. This will require the collection of cross device behavioral data, data collection via social listening, and other non-intrusive behavioral observation.

Positioning is the Last Piece in the Puzzle

Positioning puts your brand in a competitive context. It does so in a way that highlights the brand’s unique point of difference. No brand operates in a vacuum, and thus, it needs to consider its message considering its competition.

It is likely that any customer already has a mental map for the market. Brand A provides X, Y, and Z benefits. Brand B does something else. Positioning creates your unique pin on that mental map.

There are a number of different tools to help with positioning, but we find this framework helpful:

Example of a Positioning Statement

In Summary…

There is no reason to cry when the digital marketing cookie crumbles. There are proven methods that can make your marketing successful in any environment, such as email marketing, digital marketing, social media, or and other advertising campaigns.

As you plan to move to a cookie-less world, it pays to have a solid marketing strategy. You can build one by:

  1. Defining the Right Target Audience: This requires a deeper understanding of the market, and the tools outlined here can help.
  2. Crafting a Motivating Message: First develop an insight, then positioning your product or service so that its benefits are clear.

ProStrategix has over 25 years of successfully developing marketing strategies. Hopefully, these steps can help you develop yours.

About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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