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How to navigate personalization (and privacy) in a cookieless world

Amber Armstrong

July 12, 20214 minutes

Marketers are facing a paradox. Consumers are demanding personalized experiences, but they’re also increasingly demanding that brands respect their privacy. In a cookieless world, how can marketers get to know their customers well enough to deliver the customized journeys they themselves demand? To resolve this paradox, businesses need to embed the customer’s wishes and preferences around privacy into their experiences. Conversational AI can help.

Watch my recent keynote at an executive retreat to learn more.

A little context:

Since early 2020, the pandemic has taken every trend marketers were seeing in digital, data, and privacy, and catapulted them years ahead of our expectations. Digital adoption soared more in the last year than in the 10 previous combined. Physical, digital, and virtual experiences blended more than ever, with consumers coming to expect everything — from doctor’s appointments to buying jewelry to checking into hotels — to have seamless transfers and consistent experiences.

Graph showing 10 years' growth in 3 months for US e-Commerce

In short, digital is now the default. From mom-and-pops to Fortune 500s, every brand was forced to build or ramp up their digital experiences. This means the pressure is on to stand out in a sea of digital experiences. 

The privacy vs. personalization conundrum

It’s not so easy creating these experiences, though. If it were, marketers would have done it a long time ago. In fact, these experiences can seem more unattainable than ever due to the rapid shifts in data privacy and security that are putting consumers in the driver’s seat. They are going to be stewards of their own data. They will determine what data they share, for how long they share it, and what brands can do with it. 

To date, brands have tried numerous methods to get around privacy restrictions and access the data needed to personalize experiences. They’ve pulled out every tool in their tech stack— masked data, homomorphic encryption, secure forms, fingerprinting — the list is long. 

But what if, instead of trying to surveil the customer, you could just ask? 

How Conversational AI can help

This is the promise of Conversational AI. As one of the few forms of AI that is truly consumer-ready, it’s one of the only solutions resolving the paradox between privacy and personalization. To innovate with Conversational AI is to create experiences that drive revenue, increase conversion rates, and create lasting loyalty and affinity among customers while respecting their right to privacy. And it’s as simple as texting a question.

Text message with brand gathering PII and getting permission to use it for a shopper's personalization
Here’s what gathering first-party data through Conversational AI looks like.

As you can see, a well-designed automated dialogue can easily gather first-party data and explain to customers how the data will be used. It can even go as far as asking customers how long the brand can keep your data, or if they’re willing to allow the brand to store it as anonymized data to improve the experience. And it can all happen over the course of a short, natural-feeling conversation in your brand’s voice. 

Welcome to true first-party data

AI-powered messaging is built from what we call customer intent data. It’s effectively why a customer approaches a brand — what they want to know, do, or buy. This could be “I’m looking for a new policy;” “I want to check my order status;” “I need help choosing a product,” or a myriad of other intents they have for the experience. 

True first-party data collection is about understanding and organizing around these customer intents. Marketers can use the information customer conversations provide to create an in-the-moment experience tailored to exactly what that they need or want. On a larger scale, conversation data can even help inform product, UX, or supply chain improvements. What’s more, any direct conversation with a customer allows in-the-moment data prompts to become part of the experience when they are needed. These prompts have better rates of collection because they’re closer to when that data benefits the customer, and they enable just-in-time consent capture in the same experience as intent capture. 

Here’s the bottom line: Successfully navigating personalization in a cookieless world is one of the most critical challenges we face as marketers, but Conversational AI gives us the opportunity to create two-way relationships with our customers. In fact, AI-powered experiences are already helping brands connect with customers on a 1:1 level in a way that respects their wishes, all while driving revenue, conversions, and loyalty. 

‍Take a deeper look at how to build these agile, adaptable consumer experiences by watching my recent keynote above, or book time to talk with us.