How a Cookieless World Will Force Marketing and Sales to Finally Work Together
By Anton Hung / Marketing
In a previous role, my company made a physical attempt to unify the marketing and sales departments. They hauled us (the marketing department) upstairs and placed our cubicles right next to sales.
The end result? We still didn’t connect as much as we should have.
Ask a Salesperson about Marketing…
“Do they even know our customers?”
“Do they understand business?”
“You call this a qualified lead?”
Ask a Marketing person about Sales…
“Are you even looking at the data?”
“Do you even use technology?”
“Of course this is a qualified lead!”
For two departments that essentially work on the “same” process, you would think their relationship would be symbiotic. But for reasons that are soon to be moot, they speak a completely different language—even though who they communicate with are one in the same.
Maybe they were onto something.
Marketing and Selling to a Consumer That No Longer Exists
“Technology always wins…otherwise we’d still be in a horse and buggy. Cars win, planes win, the internet wins…”
This quote comes from artist David Choe, the once-upon-a-time graffiti artist who painted a mural for Facebook in the early days—famously taking shares instead of cash and making millions (fair warning, his content is not for everyone). It was part of a larger diatribe on how becoming too comfortable doing the one style of art that made you great can lead to a fear of trying new things, and subsequently, no evolution as an artist.
For a long time, the siloed approach to marketing and sales has not only worked—it’s worked pretty well.
Marketing would design pipelines around their definition of a qualified lead, and build campaigns that filtered those leads to sales. Sales would then engage with those warmed leads, reconnect with existing leads, or add their own opportunities with little understanding or visibility into the impact of the marketing materials outside of the handoff.
Was there some success? Sure. But the inefficiencies were unignorable.
Various tech and SAAS companies are able to pop up and gain a significant foothold in the lead generation process, focusing on a specific channel or vehicle. How they design, execute, and report on things often define the standard workflow of that particular team. And since it’s the platform itself dictating the KPI’s, teams are often measuring the success of the tool or the specific channel—with no relation to the success of the business. Leveraging martech software is only as impactful as the objectives and goals around it.
Because of this structure, the data has little-to-no relevance to the sales process. Communications become campaign-centric, or even channel-specific, rather than customer-centric.
Again, this approach has had some level of success. But something has changed…user expectations.
We are beginning to see a shift as the world becomes not only more connected, but more used to being instantly curated for. I can ask Google anything, find millions of reviews for millions of products, or pull up full video tutorials in a matter of seconds (or less, actually). But also—thanks to Google, Meta, and Amazon—all of these results are specifically catered to me, the individual, and all relevant to my location, past search results, behavior and trends. This expectation around instant, personalized answers is now part of the buying process.
You see, the consumer has already transformed. Yet most of the businesses that serve them are moving at a completely different rate of speed.
The Urgency of Implementing a Customer-Centric Business Model
The Third-Party Cookie is going away, so what?
There’s plenty of articles out there that can fill you in on anything you want to know about a cookieless future, or any of the avian-themed buzzwords that Google has going on: FLoC, FLEDGE, or TURTLEDOVE to name a few.
I started this article with a quote from David Choe. He became the world’s highest paid living artist off of a deal with Facebook not because the company made tons of money, but because it was heavy with information—the more desirable currency.
I don’t know if Meta/Facebook will win the race to the metaverse, or if the metaverse is the next iteration of the internet. But I do know that our lives are going to be interconnected going forward, and the utility of that data is here to stay.
What Google decides to replace third-parties cookies with is irrelevant. The question you should be asking yourself is:
Do other companies know more about my customers than I do?
Establishing an Actionable First-Party Data Pipeline
Due to advances in martech platforms and technologies, marketing has access to a vast amount of data on how a user interacts with and across various systems. Sales may have a bit less in platform options, but has direct access to the customer: pure, unfiltered first-party data. And they likely have the most to gain.
First-party data is the customer data collected directly by an organization, rather than “harvested” by a third-party source. Because when your data systems and processes are tied to the overall goals of your organization, it becomes easier to gather information that’s actionable.
So shouldn’t marketing and sales work together to define how they collect and use this data? To us, the answer seems obvious. Start your first-party data journey by identifying what programs are exclusively leveraging third-party data, and find ways to collect it directly from your customers.
Below is a checklist with some questions to ask when building out your First-party Data Pipeline Plan:
- Assess the data you currently have
- How accurate and complete is the data?
- How useful is the data for either departments?
- Where is it sourced?
- How is it managed or modified?
- Who owns the data?
- How easily accessible is the data?
- What data is missing
- How would we use this data?
- Does it exists somewhere? Or will we need to ask for it?
- Where can we ask for this data?
- How can we get this data?
Technology May Always Win, but History Tends to Repeat Itself
Data is here to stay, and technology continues to make it easier to collect, organize, modify, distribute and analyze it. Organizations today are jumping at the opportunity to utilize these tools to stay current in this “data goldrush”—interested more in implementing fancy martech software and less in the plan around it.
But how you leverage data has, and always will, remain the same: To understand your customers. Ready to do just that? Drop us a line.
Written by Anton Hung / Marketing