As businesses increasingly emphasize privacy and data protection, marketers are finding themselves in uncharted territory. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has transformed the way companies can track and analyze user behavior, particularly when it comes to cookie usage. Many of us are grappling with this change, trying to reconcile privacy regulations with the need to measure marketing campaign success.
A marketing specialist faced a conundrum –– their company had added all GDPR compliance measures, including cookie consent, to their website. As a result, they could no longer see UTM conversion data in Google/Salesforce unless users opted in. They were seeking ideas and workarounds to still track campaign success without interfering with data privacy.
The Cookieless World: Challenges and Workarounds
The purpose of GDPR and similar regulations is to ensure that users are not tracked without their explicit consent. Thus, any strategy to work around this has to align with these data privacy norms.
1. GA4's Consent Mode and Behavioral Modeling
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers Consent Mode, which helps to manage how Google tags behave before and after users make their consent decisions. It can adjust its behavior based on the consent status of the user, enabling more accurate analytics while respecting user choices.
Furthermore, GA4 uses machine learning and behavioral modeling to fill data gaps caused by users who opt out of tracking. However, these options must be reviewed with a legal team before implementation and there's also an issue of Google Analytics 4 hiding low-frequency conversions and limiting segmentation options in order to maintain anonymity of customers whose data were restored by the modelling.
2. Lead Forms on Landing Pages
Another method is to use lead forms on landing pages to capture UTMs. The form code can record the UTMs without storing any information on the user's device or tracking them. However, this is most effective when you have targeted landing pages for each individual campaign.
3. Consent to Process Personal Data on Form Submission
A third method for paid traffic involves obtaining consent to process personal data on form submission. This is separate from GDPR consent and involves sending these personal data to ad platforms. This method may only match about half of the conversions when used without other tracking measures, but it can be a reasonable fallback if other options are not feasible.
Businesses should weigh the effort of attempting to circumnavigate continuously evolving privacy obligations against the potential knowledge gained from such practices. Furthermore, it's essential to consider the potential for eroding trust in the brand.
We're all navigating through uncharted waters when it comes to data privacy and tracking. The key is to continue to respect users' privacy choices while finding innovative and compliant ways to understand campaign performance and customer behavior.
It's a challenge, but also an opportunity. It's pushing marketers to evolve, think creatively, and find new ways to deliver and measure value. Keep the conversation going, learn from each other, and together, we can continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in this new era of digital marketing.