A marketeer’s life vest in a cookie-less future: three tips!

Author: Wesley Sussenbach, Lead Technical Web Analytics at Emakina NL.

We all know it’s coming: the cookie-less world. 3rd party cookies and Universal Analytics are a thing of the past, privacy laws are getting stricter by the day and browsers offer ways for users to control their tracking. Having your customer’s consent for using their personal data is step 1 nowadays. It is mandatory from a privacy perspective and it’s also crucial to do effective online marketing. But how to stay effective then? And where to start? This article dives into the basics and serves as a life vest for marketeers that are lost in the ocean of options. Enjoy the read!

New focus: build relationships with recurring customer

The biggest consequence of the cookie-less future is that targeting people is getting harder, especially of those outside your existing customer base. As a result, the marketers’ renewed focus will be on recurring customers. Building a direct relationship with them will be key, firstly because you need their consent for using their personal data – something that wasn’t the case before. Based on this consent, a whole new marketing game arises with the winners being those who nail the game of personalization. Direct ways of communicating with your customer base (CRM-Email, WhatsApp, Push notifications, etc.) will become an essential part of your marketing mix.

Customer satisfaction is the new CTR

Parallel with the new focus on building customer relations, comes a new set of KPIs. The classic conversion rate and bounce rate will no longer cut it. And to measure long term engagement with the customer in an open, truthful, and personal way, there are better metrics. Think of customer lifetime value and customer satisfaction. These KPIs are all about the user and their steps before and after the order, not just the order itself. This generates better word of mouth and brand loyalty, and customers will be more inclined to give their

consent. To reach this, marketers need to start familiarizing themselves with these new-generation KPIs and the tools to monitor them.

Two essentials: GA4 and Server-Side Tagging

This is where Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Server-Side Tagging come in. GA4’s data model is more flexible and user oriented regarding tracking and can predict user’s future behaviour. It also has a free connection with Google BigQuery that allows access to the data in raw format (no data sampling). With Server-Side Tagging you can use your own server to send data to Google Analytics, Ads, Facebook, etc. – instead of using the website code and the user’s browser. Tags that are set up this way place cookies in a 1st party context. This helps with improving data accuracy, performance, and security. It also increases performance as fewer measurement tags on your website or app means less code to run client-side. Moreover, visitor data is better protected thanks to the possible filter and encryption features, ensuring no personal information is pushed to these platforms. With these tools as an essential first starting point, here are a few additional tips:


  • Start working with GA4 today
    Setting up GA4 next to your existing Universal Analytics allows you to do a proper GAP analysis and see how it is different. It is okay if you are not tracking everything in GA4 right away, but your marketing teams need to get used to the interface and data model. The migration to GA4 will help improve your analytics maturity. The sooner you get started, the better. Universal Analytics shuts down July 21st, 2023

  • Setup custom reports in GA4
    Default reporting in GA4 is very limited, so you must set up your GA4 reports yourself. Decide what data you need for your day-to-day online marketing activities. There is a good chance it will not fulfill your reporting needs, which means additional and external dashboarding tools will be needed – like Google Data Studio or PowerBI.

  • Move to Server-Side Tagging
    There are quite a few ways to set up Server-Side Tagging. In what way depends on several things: budget, data governance, requirements, etc. But first party data is where it’s at, and Server-Side Tagging allows you to control it. One of the more common approaches to set it up is through Google Tag Manager in a Google Cloud Platform based server container.

Emakina can help you transition

It is fair to say these steps are the most straightforward. For now, GA4 is still free, and the costs of Server-Side Tagging through Google Tag Manager are manageable. Aside from these basics though, there is an ocean of other, new, and varying-in-quality options out there to adapt to the cookieless future. These range from Customer Data Platforms to automated personalization tools. Whatever direction you take, remember they all need time and effort to get used to by your marketing teams. KPIs are shifting and looking at the data will require a new mindset. In any case, do know that at Emakina we can guide you through this jungle of options – and create the best data strategy for your company.


Wesley Sussenbach
Lead Technical Web Analytics

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