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Ecommerce in a Cookieless World, with FitzMartin’s Will Riley

Will Riley FitzMartin Deal Closers Podcast

By the end of 2023, Google is planning to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome, meaning advertisers will have a much more difficult time tracking activity of potential customers. Seems like this could be disastrous for some Ecommerce companies – and yet FitzMartin‘s Will Riley argues that Ecommerce will largely go unscathed. Tune in to find out why.

Today’s episode of Deal Closers is hosted by Izach Porter, brought to you by, and is produced by Earfluence.


Will Riley: What we are, are fearful of, just like we, were with Google and Facebook when they first started allowing Advertising; the entire industry became dependent on those platforms. And then when they turn off a lookalike feature or a targeting feature, it radically shifts clients ad dollars and how we think about communicating.

Izach Porter: All right, you’re listening to the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by, a show about how to build your e-commerce business to be profitable, scalable, and one day even sellable. I’m Izach Porter and on the show today. Will Riley from Fitz Martin, a specialized sales and communication firm, joins us to tell us how we can understand behavior patterns of our buyers, sell more to them, and be prepared for data tracking changes that are coming for everyone.

When I was researching Fitz Martin, in addition to checking out their podcast, which is called Aligned, I came across a couple of interesting articles. One was called Cognitive Marketing, the Science of Behavior Change and the Art of Sales, and the other was called Meeting Prospects in a Cookieless world.

I’m excited to kind of talk with Will about both of these today. So let’s meet our guests now. Hey Will, how you doing man?

Hey. Doing super well, Izach. Thanks so much for having me on the podcast today.

Yeah, for sure. Appreciate your time. Will tell, tell us a little more about Fitz Martin. What does your company, do and maybe how does it apply when you’re looking at it through like an e-commerce or technology lens, which is kind of where our listeners will be thinking about things.

Will: Yeah, so Fitz Martin, as you mentioned, sales and marketing consultancy. We understand the buyer and buyer behavior better than any agency in the market. whether it’s e-commerce, B2C strategies, or B2B e-commerce strategies. We believe, and excited to share more about cognitive marketing and just our approach of how we can leverage that, that science, to better understand our users. 

So Fitz Martin is not a new agency. We’ve been around for over 30 years, and have been through a lot of iterations from where we were just a design studio to, Making the transition to be more digital focused and focusing on the inbound methodology. As, as you know, whenever that flooded the market. And now the Fitz Martin that we see today is really divided into three categories. advisory services, creative operations, and revenue operations.

So I lead our revenue operations division, and it’s our job to streamline the buyer journey, whether from a marketing service, or sales point of view through the usage of technology. so we have worked actually on a lot of e-commerce websites, and strategies for our, B2B client. So excited if we need to, if we go down that path, just to share more about some of our thinking there. And I’ve, I’ve been at Fitz Martin for, over, yeah, coming up on six years now.

So it’s been a really, really fun journey from in-office agency to now we’re fully remote and hiring employees, all over, north America. It’s just been a really, really great journey the last, few years. I’m excited to share more about yeah how, our knowledge could help, your listeners grow and scale their business.

Izach: Cool. Yeah. Very, very cool. So, I’d love to get into kind of a few of the use cases and examples that you mentioned, but maybe as a starting place take us through cognitive marketing. What, what does that mean, and maybe how does that apply to e-commerce, and in some ways you’ve seen it used?

Will: Yeah. it absolutely applies to e-commerce because it focuses on buyer behavior. so, back in the seventies, there was a book written, called Changing for Good, and Change For Good was written by three scientists, that really have laid the foundation for, what you’d see in, even a therapy session.

Where we’re actually not looking at, there’s some agencies that specifically look at data science and make data driven decisions, and those are very important and we do that as marketers. But we have found is that there’s a big gap in understanding buyer behavior. so what does it mean to advertise to someone if they don’t know who we are and they don’t know how we matter to them. 

So our framework takes you through six stages that any potential buyer goes through when they’re looking to change their behavior, for us and maybe buying a new product online. It may be digitizing and creating an e-commerce store, in a more traditional, you know, brick and mortar instance or, you know, whatever it might be. So for us, we can look at your database, your CRM, we can determine, what stage message that they need. The, do they need an early-stage message, a middle of the funnel or a late-stage message to help drive that engagement. 

So that science, has taught us over the years that there are nine best practices to apply in moving someone from each stage. And when we mean stage, just to reiterate the earlier point in those six stages, that goes from your unaware that you exist and you matter to me all the way to your current customer referring business, to your entity.

Izach: Gotcha. Okay. So the kind of the life cycle of the customer journey.

Will: Yeah. Absolutely. And, you know, where, where we’ve seen e-commerce fit in is creating those custom solutions for our target market that, you know, maybe it didn’t exist before. Now I know a lot of our listeners ha have, an existing, storefront and, and transaction, history. And we think that is so important to not only have access to that data, but where we’re moving in the next few years is your first party data is going to matter more than it ever has before. 

What you get from your customer is going to be not just the standard, but it might be the only data that we will have access to. so when you look at major changes to Facebook and what you can and cannot say, major changes to Google, you know, two of the major, online advertisers, obviously there’s been changes, in the EU and the United States last few years, whether through GDPR and CPA. We are seeing such a shift that companies that have first party data, ex directly from their customers e-commerce companies are going to thrive in the cookieless, future because we have so many clients that are, whether the b2b, b2c, doesn’t matter.

They are buying that data, they’re buying list. They are starting from zero, and they’re leveraging, you know, the billion-dollar market of gathering, you know, lists and just third-party data, whether that’s through Equifax or, you know, maybe you’re partnering with the ZoomInfo of the world. The people that will probably be untouched in the cookieless future are e-commerce businesses.

Izach: Okay, so let’s talk about that. So you, you wrote an article called Meeting Prospects in a Cookieless World. Maybe just define that, define cookieless for us and maybe help me think about it in terms of, you know, iOS 15 update, overall tracking and attribution for customer data and advertising effectiveness.

Will: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, the article we wrote, over a year ago at this point was due to the fact that major advertisers and publishers were threatening the current behavior that we’re used to, what we’re used to is whatever, the tech giants allow, whether that’s Apple from a device standpoint or Microsoft or Google, we’ve just leveraged what they have given us. and what we’re, where we’re getting to is that, that that will be limiting in the future. 

Izach: So I think, I think Google had, estimated that they were gonna phase out cookies by 2023. Is that still on track? You know, as we’re sitting in to the beginning part of 2023.

Will: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we, we were planning for a 2022 sunset. I mean, we had a lot of clients call us and they were like, is this changing this year? So we actually were creating some not quite crisis mode, but definitely some changes to how, how we advertise in general. We actually consider that a, an external force that, you know, causes us to change behavior. Kind of loop back to our process and framework is sometimes that we just have to react to the market that we can’t necessarily be the trends setter. we just have to adjust to what is being, you know, dictated and annotated. 

So yes, we, we’re already seeing it now in 2023 with the implementation and change of GA4. so GA4 is replacing universal analytics. so not even getting into browser data, which Google also from a Chrome perspective is threatening to get rid of, that’s probably gonna push out a little bit more. We’re already seeing Google make changes in web data through the implementation of GA4.

 So GA4, like I said, is replacing universal analytics and is, a lot of people dunno what it is. it is, is relatively new in the last several months and we as marketers are having to get in front of it, so that we can answer these questions, these complicated you know, data components to our clients.

We actually were on a call today of how does the change in GA4 affect my, donor attribution and e-commerce report that I get from Google with my online donors. I mean, literally right before this call, we were just talking through that transition process because what, what we have historically done, Google’s making us change our behavior yet again.

Izach: Yeah. And that’s been, I mean, one thing, you know, I’ve Taken note of in my seven-year history in e-commerce here, is that the, the, the landscape is constantly changing and, you know, the algorithms change, the advertising changes and you’ve gotta really stay on the forefront of what’s, what’s coming and then figure out how to react and adapt.

So to that point, you know, I, I think you said that you, you, you feel that this could be beneficial for e-commerce companies because they have first party data, right? But what about from a customer acquisition perspective, you know, to, before the first party data’s collected, what are the implications for e-commerce? What are the risks for e-commerce? And, and then the follow on to that is like, how do we prepare and maybe take advantage of this situation in some way?

Will: Yeah, right. I think it has everything to do with how you’re building your storefront. so when you look at a lot of companies, whether they’re doing, you know, a Salesforce, a storefront, Or if you’re, you know, one of the more popular, obviously, you know, Shopify or maybe you’re building your own point of sale.

I mean, I’m sure there’s other companies that are out there listening that are trying to build their own software in terms of transaction so that we’re not recreating, cuz what we’re gonna do is shift the power. So if we’re saying e-commerce might be leveraged and, and be ahead of the curve, well, in seven years they’re gonna come after e-commerce and then the new giants are whoever owns and hosts the most data from, those customers. 

So we’re just noticing, I mean, even a shift in a lot of our customers, they’re, they’re saying, well, can I just build this on my own from scratch? And the answer is probably, but it’s just so much easier to, buy a, you know, created store that’s off the shelf and then, you know, obviously tie that into, a processor and then move on. But, you know, we’re, we’re working in a lot of, you know, we have a prospect right now that is leading, the change from merchant services with, the financial institution. 

 They’re exploring, potentially exploring, you know, what does it look like for payments to be totally redefined in the next couple of years when it turn, you know, in terms of people, you know, going to a storefront and working with different, you know, POS systems and things like that. So we’re just, we’re, we’re gonna see, and I predict the swing in people having to create more custom tailored, self-managed solutions, just to protect the buyer.

Because what we, what we are, are fearful of, just like we, were with Google and Facebook when they first started allowing Advertising. The entire industry became dependent on those platforms. And then when they turn off a lookalike feature or a targeting feature, it radically shifts clients ad dollars and how we think about communicating.

So what we’re different economies, of scale and things that we’re reading is that yes, e-commerce is, protected, but they’re also could be at risk depending on where they choose to invest in different strategies and especially the technologies to host, the store and the transaction data, and obviously just the database of the buyer.

Izach: What’s the most important data that’s coming from. Cookies right now, you know in in kind of the current state?

Will: It’s definitely, it’s online behavior. So that’s why for us it’s so important to understand, generalized behavior so that we can apply those strategies, even when we may lose access to some of that online behavior. So online behavior is location. it could be, device id, checking in to, if you, you know, we’re in SEC country, so if you went to an Alabama football game, even, even some of the closed loop reporting you’re getting in, advertising, did they go to this website then search for this term, and then come back to our website?

And then obviously, you know, from a standard retargeting perspective, if they went to my page, I wanna follow them. The next best stage message to, you know, hopefully convert them and acquire them as a new customer. so yeah, from a, from a cookie standpoint, you know, you’re looking at whatever activity that you’re doing from your browser, from a third-party perspective is one of the largest ones.

And every time you click allow, and I’m sure a lot of the listeners know this, but when you hit, allow location services, and, and accept all cookies on a website, that’s what that is taking from you. It’s your, it’s what you’re searching for where, the pages and websites that you’re visiting, the time you spent.

And then if you’re logged into your work or personal, it’s actually pulling and scrubbing information attached to your email address so that gets into gender, age, potentially net income. because, you know, if you’re, like a lot of people, you have the Shopify, the shop app downloaded, and that has your credit card information and you know, it all, it all links together.

I mean, I’m, I’m a very easy person to find online, you know, cause I have everything integrated from my browser to my phone, to my apps. You can know a lot about me pretty easily, right from an advertiser, or if one of those apps is selling my data, you know, on my behalf I gave them the permission. So yeah, I mean it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s all of that

Izach: I do too. I’m, I’m someone who, who prefers targeted advertising, like, you know, right.

Will: it’s awesome.

Izach: Yeah. My, my kids are 12, so I don’t, I don’t want to get advertisements for baby strollers, you know, I want like age-appropriate stuff, so I, I always like opt into the tracking, but I, I think I’m in the minority. Am I? 

Will: I don’t know. You know, I, I think it, I think among, millennials we are, we are definitely pro, sharing that data. I mean, when I can buy a several thousand dollars couch online and never talk to a human, and because they retargeted me for six months with all these offers and LTOs, no problem. Like, yeah, I needed the couch, if it wasn’t good digital advertising I’d still be sitting on the floor. 

So I think as long as it’s connected to my interest in what I’m looking for, I’m excited about simplifying digital advertising, what publishers share, and how we are able to retarget. I Actually prefer that. If you’re telling me that First part is what I give you, through a transaction.

And if we’re creating micro transactions to build that additional data and history for Will Riley, then when I’m ready to make the, the next big purchase or the next one, like I just hope that you’re leveraging it and I think that’s gonna be, you know, something that we’re seeing now in a recent McKenzie article that especially of B2B companies that are leveraging e-commerce, we’ve seen people that have a bad cx, a customer experience online. 90% of the time, they’re just gonna go buy it somewhere else.

So, I don’t know, among your listeners, Izach on if they’re well positioned in their vertical or if it’s more of a commodity sale. but it’s gonna put more emphasis now than ever on having, not just having an e-commerce store, okay, like, we’ve got that covered. That’s where our users are, but how are we, like, what are we doing with the data that we have? Are we actually applying it to enhance the store, our overall digital, you know, channels and Yeah, because if we prioritize the customer in CX then we’re gonna get more revenue. I mean, no doubt.

Izach: Talk to me about microtransactions. You mentioned using micro transactions to gain more first party data. What like, is that like the pop-up window that says, you know, get 10% off and I put in my, my name and email address. I mean that, that kind of stuff. Like simple little steps to get me down the path.

Will: Yeah, absolutely. From, from popups to incorporating, SMS to discounts or limited time offers with LTO. Just something to, if they would typically wait to buy, what can we do, something to urge them and expedite that buyer’s journey because, you know, a traditional bi buyer’s journey, especially with our cognitive marketing framework, you need about 20 touches to move from one stage to the next. 

So if you’re advertising to a brand-new market that has never heard of you before, you have to spend a lot more money to get to them or get them to convert, from an acquisition standpoint. So, if you’re like us and many marketers and you report on cost for acquisition, CPA from your digital channels and, and revenue strategies, then it’s very important that we are giving them a reason to come back. And sometimes enhancing the web experience and, running these little, you know, little mini kinda micro purchase would be home strategies for our listeners.

Izach: Gotcha. Ah, that’s cool. by the way, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but the, the Fitz Martin website seems to be well optimized in that respect. I, I read your article, accepted the cookies and, and signed up for the, I think the Ignite News blog, so,

Will: We, we know everything about you, Izach. You know?

Izach: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You do. Yeah. You, you can, you can check it out after the show and see what you think, but

Will: I’ll, yeah, I’ll let, I’ll let you know which pages you went to and how long you were there and, you know, all that. So, and it’s, and yeah, to your point, I just, I still don’t think I, I think it’s generationally, a preference on how much that you’re willing to share. I think something that’s very personal is, your buyer, or when you buy something, you know, like you’re giving credit card, you’re giving your home address, you’re giving whatever that they ask when you’re, accepting that transaction.

So I think a lot of people, you know, from an e-comm standpoint, could stand to leverage, some of those additional fields and data that matters to them. From, you know, right now if you only require email, phone, and shipping address, well, that’s all you’re ever gonna know about that person, but there’s ways to sneak in additional, you know, required fields or better.

Izach: Gimme some sneaky trips. 

Will: Yeah. No. Well, and you’re basically, you know, we’ve seen a lot of companies, especially in the manufacturing space that are, that have ventured into e-comm with their, current customers. they ran a research project, realized they wanted to buy products online, and, yeah, again, prospects, people generally in the B2B industry, that are in, let’s just pick on manufacturing, are, are a little bit late to the game in terms of E-comm, and, as an industry as a whole. 

And so we’re noticing that adoption pick up more where we’re, you know, introducing Shopify stores or, or maybe, you know, product warehouse fulfillment stores, built in the CRM such as Salesforce. And we’ve seen a lot of our clients start implementing those kind of strategies. And what we have recommended doing that’s been super helpful is that you’re onboarding them through the transaction process. So it’s actually creating, a multi-step, transaction journey with questions that are in the buyer’s journey.

So maybe question one is gonna end help fulfillment, or question two is gonna help aftermarket. so whenever we, go to buy something we’ve actually created and helped create these little, kinda onboarding experiences as they are transacting, online, which has been, I think, super, super fulfilling with, you know, again, the aftermarket team in particular, whoever’s in charge of renewals, you know, is, is, is gonna matter a lot, with that initial data that we get.

So while we got them, let’s ask them, the important questions. It’s gonna matter when they’re thinking about switching to a competitor, in two years or whatever our average life cycle.

Izach: Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah, that’s interesting. If there’s one call to action that you want our listeners to take away from this conversation, what would it be?

Will: Yeah, I think, I think practically, it’s gonna be really important to understand What your buyers are currently doing online in your database. And you need to be personalizing those experiences now, so that when information and access to data is removed, that you’re already ahead of the game.

So you’re already collecting customer data. What are you doing with it? Are, do you have tailored personal online experiences when they log in? When they check their order history, when, you’re giving shipment notifications or when it’s, you know, little things like it’s their, anniversary of being a new customer.

There’s things that we can be doing now, that are gonna be so important as we continue to have limited data from third parties, that you are, personalizing these experiences.

Izach: Gotcha. Tell us a little bit about the Aligned podcast. I, I saw y’all have your own podcast and, what’s the focus there and who’s, who’s the audience and what are you doing on the podcast?

Will: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, our, our podcast is, designed for C Suites, and b2b executives that are looking to grow and scale their company. You know, we, we’ve worked on over, 5,000 engagements, 30 years of clients and offer a lot of expertise in just how people buy and sell, regardless of the industry.

So our podcast is featuring, market leaders through, prominent software like HubSpot and, all the way to, thought leaders in how to sell on the same side as your customer, like through Ian Altman. so the, our, our users that, and the listeners that come to the podcast are looking on how do I sell more effectively? How do I optimize my revenue? how do I scale and leverage technology to hit my growth goals?

Izach: Yeah, well, it sounds, sounds very interesting. I will, definitely check it out and, and look forward to listening there. Will, how can our listeners connect with you?

Will: Yeah, connect with me on my LinkedIn. Glad to yeah, build a relationship and add a connection on how you can leverage our framework, to help, grow and, scale and sell, your e-commerce business. But yeah, LinkedIn would be, would be great.

Izach: That was Will Reilly from Fitz Martin. You can find at Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by website If you like the show, be sure to rate us write a review, press the follow button and share it with your network. And of course, if you’re looking for help selling your e-commerce business, be sure to visit This episode was edited and produced by Earfluence. I’m Izach Porter. We’ll see you next time on the Deal Closers podcast.