The Rising Value of Email Marketing and First Party Data [in a Cookie-less World]

By Tinuiti Team

The web is constantly evolving, but recent privacy changes are happening more rapidly than ever before—especially when it comes to consumer data.  At Tinuiti, we help marketers understand everything from the building blocks of web browsing to the upcoming regulations and guidelines that will forever alter the digital advertising landscape.

In the following article, we take a deep dive into the rising importance of email marketing as we prepare for a future without cookie tracking.

Why Are Third-Party Cookies Going Away?

Today, many digital marketing capabilities are powered by cookies (specifically, third-party cookies). We use them to track website visitors, improve the user experience, create personalized onsite experiences, and collect data to help target ads to the right audiences. We also use cookies placed by advertisers to better understand users when they are not on our website; this is the part that’s going away.

Marketers should be prepared that attribution, measurement, frequency capping and suppression, insights, segmentation, activation and retargeting are in for a shake-up in 2021. Without third-party cookies, some advertisers will lose the ability to understand what websites a user frequently visits, what purchases they make or interests they have shown on other websites.

Why you need a sophisticated email marketing strategy in a post-cookie world


“As third-party cookies begin to disappear, it’s crucial that retailers hone in on their first-party data strategy. With a strong first-party data strategy, collecting information on contacts with their consent will be the key to unlocking information about your audience and continue 1:1 personalization in messaging.”

Leah Lloyd, Senior Director, CRM and Email at Tinuiti



Here are 4 reasons why you need a sophisticated email marketing strategy in a post-cookie world:

1. The value of email marketing is rising.

Having an email marketing (first party data) strategy is now more important than ever before. According to Shopify, the value of an email contact rose from $16 in 2019 to $33 in 2020 (and we expect this trend to continue throughout 2021).

2. Email & mobile numbers will likely become the unique identifier for site users.

According to Chief Marketing, email is becoming the universal unique identifier, and you should use it as such. This means that you need to work harder to acquire email addresses in order to recognize and reach your customers—and you need to do it in a legal, clean and effective way. Collection & association of first-party data will need to be tied to these unique identifiers.

3. Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) will be more commonly adopted & data hygiene is of utmost importance.

A CDP enables you to integrate touchpoints across all channels into a single centralized customer view so you can gain better insights about your customers and personalize their experience based on those insights. CDPs operate based on first-party data where the customer has interacted with your brand (such as purchasing or opting-in). This empowers marketers to make decisions based on known customer preferences and behavior, rather than on assumptions or guesses.

4. Brands will need advanced analytics to help identify audiences based on first-party data.

When a brand’s ability to track on-site interactions are reduced, they will need to leverage AI modeling technology to create audiences based on first party data & conversion metrics. Media mix modeling considers all digital channels including display, email, paid search, and social. In fact, as customers have become more intertwined with digital channels, media marketing models have adapted to go even deeper into the analyses provided by those channels’ respective insights to support better budgeting choices and customer segmentation reports.

Understanding the value of a first-party strategy

First and foremost, it’s important to understand why first party data is so valuable. Among the many benefits of first party data, some of the most notable include:

Together, these benefits and the fact that the data is unique and something no one else has can make first party data a true competitive advantage for your brand. That said, in order to reap the benefits of first party data and turn it into a competitive advantage for your business, you need to put that data to work in the right way in order to increase conversions across channels.

At a baseline, most brands have access to customer email addresses, name(s) and (sometimes) mobile number(s). 

When a site user makes a conversion, eCommerce retailers typically obtain:

As a result of the privacy changes, advertisers should be thinking beyond the data points listed above and seek to fill the large gaps in first party data acquisition to help inform future audience and campaign strategies. But how?

Tinuiti’s approach to the expansion of first-party data

Here are 4 ways to expand on your first-party data:

Encourage user registration – Encouraging users to maintain and or create an account allows advertisers greater access to customer behavior vs. a non-registered user. Collecting data upfront also allows advertisers to begin building a user profile. 

Leverage surveys & user profilesCollecting information through a gamified experience allows increased first-party data for better audience segmentation. It also reduces friction for the consumer by not requesting to collect upfront at user registration.

Collect on-site & in app behavior(s) – Collecting behavior enhances first-party data for future messaging and audience campaigns. Ensure compliance for data collection as most vendors are not utilizing cookies but proprietary systems.

Look at additional data available – Partnering with other technologies within a brand’s martech stack allows advertisers to significantly grow the amount of data used for audience growth & campaign personalization.

Examples of successful first-party data strategies


Venus Et Fleur’s preference center

Venus ET Fleur created a preference center for capturing anniversary and birthday data in order to use it in triggered messages so that they can send reminders to make a purchase for a customer’s upcoming birthday/anniversary or a significant other’s birthday. 

Below is an example of the preference center and the dedicated calendar email. 




Comrad Socks’ acquisition overlays

Comrad Socks used acquisition overlays to capture information about their new subscribers on both desktop and mobile.




BrüMate captures subscriber drink preferences

BrüMate captured subscriber drink preferences by asking the “What’s your drink?” question for shoppers to answer by a link click. When clicking the link, we were able to update a field in the subscriber’s individual user profile, while also re-directing them to the category landing page on the site that best compliments their drink preference (to match them with products they are likely to purchase). With the profile field update based on link click – Tinuiti was then able to build segmentation for future personalization within BrüMate’s email program.

To learn more about how your brand can implement a sophisticated first-party data strategy, contact us! And be sure to check out “The Future of the Web” to find out everything you need to know about the new restrictions, cookies, IDFA, first-party data, and all things privacy from our Tinuiti experts.

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