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What’s to come in the cookie world, and how it will affect legal digital marketing.

By the end of 2023, Google plans to pull the plug on third-party cookies on Chrome browsers. It will be the end of decades of data-driven targeting advertising, and it’s critical firms prepare for a cookie-less future. If you’re wondering – what does this all mean? Why is this important for my firm? We’ll cross each bridge one by one. Let’s start walking towards the first bridge and look into the different types of cookies.

There are three types of cookies:

  • First-party cookies: They are stored under the same domain you are visiting. In other words, it’s the data you’ve collected directly from your audience. Examples include remembering selected preferences or storing your shopping cart.
  • Second-party cookies: In a way, this is a subset of first-party cookies and it is data that is shared with two or more partners. Like when an airline shares information, such as first name and emails, with a trusted hotel chain to use for ad targeting.
  • Third-party cookies: These are stored in a different domain. They track users on many other websites. Uses include retargeting campaigns and cross-site tracking.

On this premise, it’s critical to note that Google will remove third-party cookies – not all of them. This will mean that data – especially first-party – will increasingly become a key player in business models across all industries. As of today, first-party cookies are considered to be the best due to the following reasons:

  • The information is more accurate.
    • The quality of the cookie is the highest.
    • It’s cheaper because it already belongs to your firm (unlike second or third-party cookies.)
    • It’s unique information to your firm.

And in these lines, first-party cookies can help your PPC (pay-per-click) campaign. It’s an excellent tool for paid ads because the data can propel your marketing campaigns to reach higher quality leads, thus leading to higher quality conversions. Speaking of PPC, and before we dig in deeper, our partners over at Consultwebs have created a handy document that demystifies common PPC misconceptions. Head on over and download it here!

With all that said, let’s quickly look into the entirety of first-party data and its relation with your firm’s PPC strategy.

Where can firms find first-party data?

You could be sitting on a pile of gold. In other words, your firm probably has first-party data stored, and this is more valuable to your firm’s business than you might think! The best part of finding and building your data set is that you do not need to invest in second or third-party pieces of information; it’s already there.

Today, there are many platforms where you can start collecting first-party data, and that includes:

  1. Websites: This is your primary source for first-party data. Here you can find a visitor’s name, email address, browsing behavior, preferences, and transactions.
  2. Emails: Has your firm sent out newsletters? Those who have or will can collect more behavioral information with the help of open rates, click-through rates, and bounces. 
  3. CRM (customer relationship management): Making use of management systems of this type, especially if your site is tied to an online payment platform can be a game-changer in your business development. They accumulate substantial amounts of data that will help you understand your client’s purchasing and overall website behavior.
  4. Call centers and customer service teams: Is your firm working with external customer support, e.g., call centers? They can be an excellent source for first-party data. They might often receive common questions and problems that your firm didn’t know about.
  5. Google Analytics: This is a primary source of data for many businesses. It carries tons of data on consumers and their overall online behavior.

The opportunities and challenges when firms opt for first-party data.

There are pros and cons when opting for first-party data for efforts like PPC. The following should provide an overview of both the opportunities and challenges this data set has:

Benefits of first-party cookies:

  • Integrating Google Analytics: This is the best option because it requires the least manual development. By leaning towards a data connector tool like Google Analytics, you can expect pre-built methods that feed your CRM. This can help your firm create the best of the best PPC campaigns.
  • Creating personalized ad copy: Personalization is the future of marketing, and it’s possible to have this thanks to first-party cookies. Around 91% of customers want to see personalized content directed at them.
  • Producing better and broader campaign targeting: This data is rich in the user’s demographics and behavioral trends. These are two critical aspects when trying to target a specific group of audience and other audiences alike.
  • Enhances customer reach: With the help of data-based customer personas, firms can reach those who are most likely interested and create look-alike audiences and reach even more audiences.
  • Prioritizing high-quality leads: This is perhaps the most crucial benefit. It allows the team to understand the customers at a more intimate level. With the help of analytical information, your firm can reach those who are most likely to be interested in your offerings.

Challenges of first-party cookies:

  • Data integration: Combining everything in a single place is challenging. However, data integration is a must in order to understand the wants and needs of your prospects.
  • Requires real-time decision making: To ensure you’re getting and making the most of these cookies, it’s essential to put a system in place to distribute the appropriate data to your internal team as well as any external partners.
  • Data privacy: Not all users will provide their information right away. According to privacy studies, 81% of people feel they have no control over what businesses do with their data. Considering this, firms should reassure the users that the information they gather is being handled ethically and transparently.

Top ways to boost PPC with first-party cookies

The usage of first-party data can boost the PPC strategy in a variety of ways. The following are the top three ways firms can boost their business with these cookies:

1.   Influencing the bidding strategies

First-party data can influence your Google bidding strategy. This type of bidding is linked to Google Ads and tells Google the amount your firm is willing to pay for an acquisition; in other words, you select and tell Google what your ideal CPA (cost per action) is.

In addition, Google takes into consideration three factors when deciding where to place your ad:

  • Your bid: The maximum amount of money you’re willing to pay for a click.
    • The quality of your ads: This is where you can leverage first-party cookies. The quality of your ads has an impact on this ranking factor. Higher quality ads, keywords, and landing pages can lead to lower prices and better positions.
    • The expected impact from your ad extensions: Extensions like your phone number or other relevant pages linked affect your ad’s performance.

2.   Budgeting efficiency

Remember we previously mentioned that Google Analytics could help your firm because it carries a ton of consumer information? It can also help you optimize the Google Ads campaigns. For example, you would be able to track the users who went from an ad to your website to the contact form and booked a call. Google calls this customer journey the path length. It will tell you which page on your site brings you the most significant revenue – the top conversions paths.

You can add this Google Analytics feature by creating an audience list under Google Analytics > Admin > Audiences. You can then specify the audience criteria, e.g., a user who visited a page but took no further action.

3.   Expanding the targeted audience

Again, with the help of Google’s Similar Audience Feature, you can search for users who have similar behaviors as the customers in your first-party list. To reach similar audiences, Google recommends you have your data strategy in place – in other words, have the first-party cookie information to understand the behaviors of other similar targets. This is a powerful win-win strategy because it can help you reach more users who need firms like yours and vice versa.

The coming era in digital marketing for law firms.

The type of information firms will leverage from in the (near) future will have to compromise on quality personalized cookies. As we move away from third-party cookies, it’s best to consider the use and enhancement of what is regarded as the best type of data: first-party cookies.

The online landscape will keep on changing, so creating a forward-thinking marketing campaign can strengthen the personalization aspects of your targeting campaigns with PPC. By doing so, you can draw the right people back to your firm, increase visits, calls, and cases.

As the entirety of data usage changes the whole PPC game, the best approach firms can take today is ensuring their digital marketing efforts are robust and independent enough to survive without third-party cookies. If you’d like to learn more about PPC, data usage, and even get a head start and secure your firm’s marketing strategy, our partners at Consultwebs are there to talk and walk the extra mile with you.