A Cookieless World- What Happens When You Opt Out

By Madison Taylor
January 6, 2020
hands writing on a gray computer

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that websites these days seem to be deeply interested in whether you’re willing to accept cookies on your computer or not. Most websites use cookies — little data files that tell the site that you’ve been there before and what you did on the site.

Most sites use cookies to personalize your experience — keeping items in your cart, keeping you logged in, or showing you related content — but there have been concerns for a while now about the privacy concerns associated with cookies.

The Cookie Law

For any site that’s based in the EU or that might be storing the data of an EU resident, the so-called “Cookie Law” dictates how your website handles cookies. There are a few complexities to the law, but the simple version is that sites have to tell their visitors how they use cookies and obtain definitive consent from visitors before storing cookies on those users’ computers.

Of course, that means that some customers will opt out of having cookies on their computers. That means no targeted advertising and no data collection at your end about who’s visiting your site and where else they’re going on the web. They basically become anonymous visitors. So how does this affect your marketing strategy?

Don’t Lean Too Much on Paid Ads

When a user opts out of being tracked at all online, it makes it nearly impossible for you to deliver them targeted ads on other sites. They essentially become unreachable. Compound that with the fact that more than a quarter of desktop users block all ads at the browser level, and the result is that paid advertising is becoming less and less reliable as a way to reach people.

The stats are starting to bear this out. Customers are less and less trusting of paid content in favor of organic results. Consider the following:

  • 70 to 80 percent of searchers ignore paid ads in favor of organic results
  • 35 percent of e-commerce traffic comes from organic search, while only four percent comes through paid search
  • Ad blocker usage increased from 142 million to 615 million last year alone.

Paid search and ads have their advantages too — they usually result in a faster uptick in traffic and higher conversion rates, considering that people who click on ads have a higher intent to buy — but the point we’re making is that you shouldn’t be relying on them.

The Importance of Content

When you can’t target customers using their web browsing history or trackers, that really only leaves you with one option: let them come to you. That’s the idea behind inbound marketing, and it’s the foundation of what we do.

The first step in inbound marketing is to know who you’re talking to. Create a buyer persona — an idealized version of your perfect customer — and create content and marketing plans that cater directly to that person. Trying to be all things to all people is inefficient and will ultimately fail. Instead, focus on the people you can actually help the most.

The second step is your content itself. If you want to succeed without paid ad and search placements, you’ll need people to find you naturally, and that means writing content that people are searching for. The good news is that everyone is searching all the time — no one buys practically anything without doing some research first — but the bad news is that it’s hard to stand out.

That’s why high-quality content is so important. If you write well-crafted, well-targeted content, people will find it naturally, share it, and return to it. All of that activity will help your search engine rankings, which will help your content find its way to more people in the future.

No Need For Panic

The bottom line is simple: don’t worry too much about ad blockers and cookies. Most customers aren’t opting out of cookies in the first place, and those who do are still helping your SEO simply by consuming your content. And while ad blockers might put a damper on your paid campaigns, it’s probably not the best idea to be leaning on paid campaigns to begin with. In the end, you shouldn’t worry too much about ad blockers and cookies. If your content stands up on its own merits, you don’t need them!