Everything But The Cookie: What Brands Are Doing To Drive Great Customer Experiences

Email marketers are not the most popular people in America. 

Among consumers, 79% wish email offers were more relevant, and 71% that they were more timely, according to Revisiting the Gaps In Customer Experience, a two-part study from Redpoint conducted by the Harris Poll.  

But it may be even harder to stay relevant in email or any other channel if third-party cookies disappear.

Of the businesses surveyed, 44% say the loss of cookies will have a major impact on their marketing, and 27% say it will have a moderate one. 

But only 18% feel there will be a major effect on new customer acquisition, and 47% say this will be moderate. 

Whatever the impact, brands are taking these measures to deal with the probable loss of third-party cookies:

  • Incentives for consumers to opt in to tracking — 57%
  • Investing more in first-party data — 53%
  • Pursuing alternative IDs that can be followed and monitored — 51%
  • Shifting ad spend to more effective targeting — 47%
  • Partnering with other companies to fill the gaps — 45% 



For their part, consumers feel this way about cookies. They are willing to:

  • Let brands they explicitly approve use tracking cookies to improve their experience — 67%
  • Give some brands more information about them if they use it to create a more valuable customer experience — 66%
  • Let all brands use tracking cookies to improve their experience — 39% 

In the past year, companies have invested in these areas: 

  • Data quality — 63% 
  • Artificial intelligence — 49%
  • Personalization — 44%
  • Real-time engagement — 42%
  • Omnichannel presence — 41%
  • Martech — 40%

But is it worth it? Ask consumers what they think about the data companies have on them, and they list these problems:

  • Outdated — 25%
  • Inaccurate — 25%
  • Inconsistent — 23%

Marketers list a different set of issues:

  • Inaccurate — 39%
  • Difficult to act on — 38%
  • Fragmented — 33%

At the same time, few consumers give an excellent rating to companies for their customer experience in general. 

For instance, 23% say firms are great at customer understanding, while 47% of marketers think they are acing this. And that’s only one sign of the disconnect. 

In addition, 23% of consumers rate the personalization they receive as excellent. Again, 44% of companies think they are doing fine at it. 

On the positive side, 28% of consumers think brands are delivering an excellent experience. That’s up from 22% in 2019. 

Which industries are best at delivering an exceptional customer experience? Overall, the leaders are:

  • Retail — 27%
  • Financial services — 23%
  • Healthcare insurance — 13%
  • Travel/tourism — 12%
  • Consumer Packaged Goods — 9%
  • Healthcare providers — 4%

Still, brands don’t give the highest possible scores to their customer engagement systems. They say they enable them to do the following very well:

  • Personalize the customer experience — 49%
  • Provide and access data in real time — 45%
  • Drive revenue growth — 41%
  • Understand the customer’s context in terms of previous journey stages — 39%
  • Aggregate customer data — 37%
  • Provide a complete picture of the customer across all data sources — 34%
  • Provide a consistent experience across all interaction touchpoints — 34%
  • Provide actionable insights — 33%
  • Provide an up-to-date view of the customer — 33%
  • Drive cost reductions — 33%
  • Resolve customer identities across devices and/or data sources — 32%

Not that impressive. And, marketers have other general general frustrations. They say:

  • The number of systems they have make it harder to provide a seamless customer experience — 77%
  • That it has become increasingly difficult to manage the number of customer touchpoints they have — 70%
  • Technology has made it harder for them to effectively engage with customers — 67%

What are the top drivers of advancement in the respondents’ CX strategies? They cite:

  • Personalizing experiences to provide deep relevance and context that is meaningful and valued by the individual customer — 41%
  • Creating flexible delivery systems for services (e.g. curbside delivery, telehealth, online banking, SMS campaigns, etc.) that help meet the customer where and when they want services — 36%
  • Always on, omni-present, omnichannel experiences, support and service — 33%
  • Moving beyond a basic understanding of customer preference and anticipating customer needs — 32%

Firms are upbeat — 57% say they are making advancements in data quality, 46% in artificial intelligence/machine learning and 45% in personalization. 

What’s more, 90% are now using personalization for their websites, up from 82% in 2019.  And 88% are leveraging AI/ML recommendations, versus 78% two years ago. Another 81% are deploying A/B multi-variate testing, compared to 78% in 2019. 

The Harris Poll surveyed 1,500 consumers and 150 marketers in the July 7-16 time frame. 

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