The year ahead for customer engagement

An evolution is underway as marketers embrace a profound shift in their customer data strategies, writes Braze’s James Manderson

We are starting 2024 with a monumental shift in the marketing industry, as Google finally starts to sunset cookies on Chrome.

While this is only set to impact 1 per cent of users initially, it will force the industry to rethink its third-party data strategies.

Yet despite this initially being announced in January 2020, only 5 per cent of marketers in the Middle East planned to stop or have already stopped using third-party cookies in 2023.

First-party data holds far greater value than the obscure representation of a consumer that third-party data provides.

It’s collected by brands directly from their customers through various communications, like asking for the customer’s date of birth to offer them a birthday treat.

Once access to cookies has been severed, we’ll likely see brands ramp up their data collection in a bid to maintain a personalised connection with their customers. However, this could lead to ‘survey fatigue’ amongst consumers as brands across the globe look to bolster their first-party data reserves.

Brands must proactively ensure they provide genuine value in exchange for necessary information, comprehending precisely the data they require to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

If there’s no value in it for the customer, brands may struggle to maintain the connection.

An evolution is underway as marketers embrace this profound shift in their approach to customer data strategy.

The strategic pivot to curate only the most relevant data aims not only to fuel clever campaigns, but also to build a bedrock of trust, delivering value to a discerning audience that cares deeply about privacy.

The power of AI has allowed marketers to scale customer journey orchestration and foster creativity, efficiency, and experimentation in 2023.

This transformational impact will continue to be felt in 2024 as brands find new ways to integrate technology into their stacks.

Generative AI is not merely a shortcut; it’s a force multiplier. Even single-person marketing teams can tap into a reservoir of inspiration that rivals larger teams or those with agency resources.

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Marketers can quickly set up and implement personalised engagement campaigns by connecting legitimately gained first-party data to their customer engagement platform. AI can analyse vast data sets in real-time, identifying patterns and predicting customer behaviour.

However, marketers should view AI not as a standalone solution, but as a sage and trusted advisor that enhances their marketing prowess and learns alongside them.

This perspective acknowledges AI’s limitations and underscores the necessity for marketers to broaden their traditional skill set, particularly in data insight, to fully leverage the opportunities AI presents.

Trust will be another watchword for 2024. While we’ve been hearing about a cookieless future for years, it’s now time for marketers to overhaul their customer data strategy.

To fail in doing so would risk damaging trust with their consumers and hinder long-term customer value permanently.

Personalisation will be a strategic tool in building and reinforcing this trust with customers. It can enable brands to do more, like sharing personalised offers, and even suggesting pairing items such as a top to go with a recent jeans purchase.

Brands that recognise and capitalise on the interconnected nature of all these elements —personalisation, data, AI, and trust – can expect to be well-placed to win the trust of consumers this year. And their loyalty for many more years to come.

By James Manderson, SVP, Global Customer Success, Braze