Third-party cookie deprecation is forcing brands across industries to change how they assemble, analyze and activate customer data. And as companies scramble to augment their approach to prospecting and conversion use cases for a cookieless world, those that have already invested in authenticated first-party data have a head start.
Luxury fashion brand Michael Kors has been using first-party data to enhance and expand revenue streams, drive operational efficiency and improve customer experiences for nearly five years.
In our recent webinar — How Michael Kors is Preparing for a Cookieless Future With First-Party Data — we spoke to the brand about how it’s replacing outdated tools and tactics with future-proof strategies, as well as the role of a customer data platform (CDP) in doing so. Here are the top three takeaways from that discussion.
1. The Right Technology is Key to Making the Most of Customer Data
Even before the death of the cookie became a pressing concern, Michael Kors was seeking a way to consolidate and take action on its first-party customer data.
“The first campaign that I was asked to run at Michael Kors, the list took 12 hours to produce, which even five years ago was 11 hours and 59 minutes too long,” said Vice President of Global Analytics Sharon Kratochvil.
But after deciding a CDP would be its key activation tool, the brand still had to shop around for technology that was up to the task.
“A lot of the CDPs out there required a fixed schema,” Kratochvil said. “So, you got the data they told you you could put in and nothing else. Our vision was really to leverage all of our customer data, not just subsets of that customer data.”
Michael Kors was also focused on run-time compute processing so it could define business variables on the fly as it continued to evolve its marketing.
“What the CDP has done for us, and this is really important, was really important and continues to be important, is it allows us to be agile in our marketing,” Kratochvil said.
“It gives us speed. It gives us flexibility in executing customer marketing campaigns and journeys, she added.”
2. 1st-Party Data Powers the Entire Customer Lifecycle
Before exploring how first-party data could help the brand overcome the challenges of third-party cookie deprecation, Michael Kors was using it to power more relevant, impactful marketing campaigns.
Previously, the brand’s email marketing program was based on a batch-and-blast approach. With greater access to actionable customer data, Michael Kors began segmenting audiences based on channel and using its CDP to test messaging cadence, content engagement and more across individual channels.
“The good news was — and everybody was very, very happy — we reduced our number of emails sent while increasing relevancy,” Kratochvil said. “So, your standard email metrics — your clicks, your opens, your read cert — all of that was increasing.”
The brand also started leveraging customer data for lookalike modeling.
“A lot of acquisition uses lookalike models,” Kratochvil said. “So, what we were able to do is identify our best customers, our very best customers, and then start building lookalike models off of them with our marketing partners.”
Fueling its CDP with data from its data lake — enabling the brand to pull in data related to website interactions, application interactions, loyalty interactions, clienteling interactions and more — allowed Michael Kors to build much richer profiles for individual customers to assist with segmenting audiences, personalizing communications and building omnichannel customer journeys.
“At this point, all of our journeys and our campaigns, whether it’s digital, CRM, loyalty, retail — including clienteling — go through ActionIQ, and this is global,” Kratochvil said. “This is not just US, this is a global tool for Michael Kors.”
3. Authenticated Customer Data is the Foundation of the Future
With its ability to easily collect, analyze and leverage first-party data, Michael Kors was more prepared than most for the death of the cookie. But the brand still had to contend with limited visibility into unknown visitors to its digital properties, less information for multi-channel customer journey tracking or marketing attribution and reduced insight into returning website visitors and metrics related to repeat visits.
In short, Michael Kors needed to replace anonymous third-party data with customer details that would help resolve identities and support business-critical use cases such as retargeting.
“Our first action is to introduce a durable ID — some people know these as server-side cookies — so that we can then have control and visibility into that data ourselves and we don’t lose the data,” Kratochvil said.
The brand encourages consumers to authenticate themselves by giving them a reason to self-identify, then uses its CDP to resolve IDs by matching them to customer records.
Using durable IDs, Michael Kors can personalize experiences for unknown website visitors while collecting additional identifiers to flesh out customer profiles.
“I can actually rely on ActionIQ to do what it does for my known customers with my unknown visitors,” Kratochvil said.
Check out the full webinar featuring Michael Kors to learn more about how the brand is preparing to succeed in a cookieless world starting in 2024.
Download The Enterprise Advertiser’s Guide to CX in a Cookieless World to understand how third-party cookie deprecation will impact your business use cases and what you can do to prepare.