• October 25, 2021

Harris Poll Survey Unveils Marketers' Top Five Plans for a Post Third-Party Cookie World

A recent survey by The Harris Poll found that the expected eventual elimination of third-party cookies will disrupt marketers' strategies within the customer experience landscape. However, marketers say they have a plan, and many consumers are willing to go along with it, as long as they get something in return.

In fact, 67 percent of consumers said they would let select companies use tracking cookies to improve their experience, while 39 percent they will let all companies use tracking cookies to improve their experiences.

Among their plans, marketers revealed the following top five ideas for navigating in the cookieless world:

  • 57 percent plan to offer incentives for consumers to opt-in to tracking;
  • 53 percent plan to invest more in first-party data;
  • 51 percent will pursue alternative IDs that can be followed and monitored;
  • 47 percent will shift ad spend to more effective targeting; and
  • 45 percent plan to partner with other companies to fill in the gaps. 

The survey, though, also found a continuing gap in perceptions and expectations between the two groups, as well as a misalignment across key CX dimensions. For consumers, the most important element is consistency of experience. Lack of consistency is one major reason why 74 percent of consumers believe companies fall short of delivering excellent experiences.

Consumers also expect omnichannel personalization, but many say they still feel unseen (55 percent) and undervalued (48 percent) by companies and that the experiences they receive rarely meet their expectations (48 percent).

Marketers, on the other hand, remain very positive in their perspective about CX delivery, with the vast majority saying they believe things in their industry are headed in the right direction (95 percent), and they are delivering an exceptional CX (93 percent). While confident in their personalization delivery, marketers are now more willing to admit rising challenges.

In the survey, marketers reported having an average of 16 customer engagement systems deployed, nearly double the amount in 2019. The explosion of data sources is a core reason marketers feel their technology stack is preventing them from managing the most effective omnichannel CX.

Consumers also believe companies are failing to personalize their experiences because their customer data is not accurate nor up to date. Marketers agree data is a problem, with data quality/accuracy being the area they most want to improve (34 percent).

As other data quality roadblocks, marketers cite the following:

  • A lack of data integration between the systems (41 percent);
  • Closed integrated marketing clouds (41 percent); and
  • Highly specialized applications that can';t be replaced (40 percent).

The research also found that younger consumer are more likely to view personalization as a table stakes requirement, with 73 percent of Gen Z/Millennials 70 percent of Gen X and only 55 percent of Boomers/Silent Generation holding that belief. Thirty-nine percent of all consumers say they will no longer do business with companies that don't offer a personalized experience.

"Personalization is a must-have for any organization today, and the businesses that are flourishing are already focusing heavily on bringing data quality, speed, and scale to the personalization process," said John Nash, chief marketing and strategy officer of Redpoint Global, in a statement, pointing out that companies will need "continued investment in solutions that can deliver perfected customer data and simplify orchestration of real-time decisions, interactions, and overall customer engagement."

The importance of personalization continues to grow and was further magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the survey. Key trends underscoring this include the following:

  • Nearly all marketers (95 percent) and seven in 10 consumers say the pandemic has made it even more important for companies to know their customers' needs and preferences.
  • Transparency from companies matters, with nearly eight in 10 consumers (78 percent) saying companies that were transparent about challenges they experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic retained their loyalty more than companies that did not.
  • CX has also moved beyond traditional questions of privacy and personalization. A quarter of consumers say they are less likely to do business with companies that do not embody their values.
  • Some of the largest gaps are around excellence. The gap of 25 points between the 26 percent of consumers who believe companies are truly excellent at CX vs. 51 percent of marketers is slightly down from the 30-point gap in 2019.

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