You’re an eCommerce retailer. Your site gets 100,000 visitors a day. Statistically, 80% of those visitors will leave and never come back—they’re lost causes, window shoppers, tire kickers; they aren’t serious prospects. Being practical, you don’t want to spend money on them. They aren’t worth it.
So you face a version of the classic marketing problem: 80% of your visitors are not worth marketing to, you just don’t know which 80%. Here’s the solution you’re probably going to come up with: wait until you know a visitor is not part of that 80% before you start spending on them. Process of elimination. Nice.
But now here comes a tougher question: How do you know when a visitor is not part of that 80%? You may say: track their behavior; if I see them a second time, they’re not it. But is tracking a user’s behavior online really that foolproof? Can you be sure that what looks like a first-time visitor is really not a returning customer? Right answer: NO. Let me give you a quick hint as to why…cookies.
If you’re using cookies to understand your online shoppers’ behavior, you’re not getting the whole truth. There isn’t a one-to-one relationship between customers and cookies. Cookies can be deleted. Different browsers will have different cookies. Some browsers block them. Some cookies go stale and are purged from your records. Some cookies come from public devices which many different people use. For these reasons and more, cookies don’t give you an accurate picture of your customers.
Let’s look at one scenario that makes this clear. Say you see a visitor on Tuesday from a desktop device with cookie ID #123. You don’t remarket to this visitor because you aren’t sure whether they are in the 80% of customers who are one-and-done or not. Then on Thursday you see a visitor on a laptop computer with cookie ID #456. Again, you are unsure about who they are, so you don’t remarket to them either. Here’s what your cookies are hiding from you: cookies #123 and #456 are the same shopper.
The cookies begin to crumble all around you. How many customers are you failing to remarket to because their cookies give you an inaccurate picture of who they are? How many opportunities to influence a prospect are you missing out on? How much revenue? Did you know that this key tool for understanding behavior online could be so brittle?
Let’s look at the worst case scenario here. You missed that cookies #123 and #456 are the same person. You saw each one once, and therefore couldn’t rule out that they were in the 80% of one-and-done visitors, and therefore decided not to spend any money retargeting them. This single customer, in reality, visited your site twice in one week, did a bunch of browsing, decided what they wanted to buy, and then went on to purchase from your competitor. Had you given them a nudge to come back to your site, you’d have won the sale…turns out you lost it.
But how often does it happen? Do you have any idea?