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iOS 14 + iOS 15 Updates: What Do You Need to Know for Your Shopify Marketing Strategy?

September 2021
 minute read
smartphone showing social media icons

iPhone users have probably noticed a few new features since Apple rolled out iOS 14 updates in September 2020. And marketers have probably lived through a few headaches dealing with the response from Facebook, Google, and other notable marketing platforms. Just as everyone seemed to get a grasp on that update, Apple announced the plan for the iOS 15 update. So what are these updates and what does it mean for your Shopify marketing strategy?

The update that rocked the advertising world: Apple’s iOS 14

The good, the bad, and the ugly of data privacy for Shopify marketing

Computer screen that reads "Breakdown of Ad Spend"

Recently, people have learned much more about just how much of their personal data is shared on the internet (thanks to The Great Hack on Netflix and, well, those targeted ads you get after you just mention a product in the general vicinity of your phone without even Googling it)—from your online browsing habits, weirdly specific interests you may have, to whether or not you’re in the market for a new car lease. As a human, it may make you want to throw your phone off a cliff and move off the grid to live in the middle of nowhere. 

As a marketer, you’ve probably known about this way before it was cool to be aware of the sheer amount of information stored about you. Cookies and third-party data served as a great way to customize an experience for users that personalized the content they saw. Once your data started getting sold and shared, things got a little too personal. Marketers also know that while this information is used to serve you ads that you’ll find super relevant (or, at least, we think you’ll find super relevant), all of this data is really anonymous. 

Someone setting up an advertising campaign would never be able to tell that Sally from Tallahassee buys a lot of stuff through Facebook Ads, “Love” reacts to every picture of a cat on their newsfeed, and also spends a lot of time interacting with X Facebook group. We are all Sally, but we don’t know Sally. 

The amount of data marketers were able to use to target people was convenient in the sense that you could target the right people for a low cost, but people lost a lot of privacy because of it. Now that The People are aware and super creeped out about data sharing, Apple decided to give some power back to the people. Ok, so, what exactly did iOS 14 updates change for Apple users?

  • Higher data-sharing visibility. Now when you go to download an app in the App Store, the app’s product page will detail the types of data that may be collected on you from that app, whether that be personal information, financial information, or location information. Also detailed is how any third-party partners may track your data. 
  • Asking for permission rather than forgiveness. Now, you as a human, assuming your Apple device is fully updated, can ask apps not to track your data. When you first open the app, you’ll see a popup which will ask whether or not you want to be tracked. 

So, no big deal, right? Wrong. This simple update waged a war among the big tech world companies because this makes it harder for them to profit off of you. C’est la vie.  

iOS 14 and running Facebook Ads for your business

So, what’s really changing in the world of Facebook Ads?

Blurred Google Analytics screen

The biggest aspect of this change for businesses is going to come from shifting away from third-party data collection and moving towards first-party or zero-party data. The difference? Customers will give you their information directly but only if they want to share it. 

This shift has already changed a lot in terms of advertising capabilities, mainly cost, ad targeting, ad cost, and ad measurement—especially on Facebook. 

  • Ad targeting. As this update was released, many people chose to opt out of tracking. Because of this, we have less insight on the people who browse sites, and retargeting people is now much more difficult and less accurate. 
  • Ad Cost. Because of the decrease in targeting capabilities, advertisers on Facebook are seeing much higher CPM and CPC on top of a lower overall ROAS. Higher cost, fewer results. 
  • Ad measurement. The attribution window on Facebook Ads before iOS 14 was 28 days, meaning if someone saw your ad and bought something from your business within 28 days, you could directly attribute that back to your ad. Now, that attribution window has decreased to 7 days. Any activity that happens outside of that window cannot be tracked on the platform. 

Moving Forward Beyond iOS 14 Updates

Adapting to iOS 14 updates for your Shopify marketing

Man holding phone while looking at Facebook on computer

Marketers work in an ever-changing industry, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. The shift towards privacy likely isn’t going to change either, so now it’s time to adapt. 

  • Pixel. Any marketer will tell you you need to have a Facebook pixel set up on your website even if you’re not advertising. This is now more important than ever to begin properly tracking data to leverage in your marketing efforts. Keep one pixel to one domain. 
  • Domain verification. Now to advertise and to see all the data you need from your campaigns, you’ll need to verify your domain. This verification helps Facebook ensure that only appropriate parties can edit preview links that direct to your content. 
  • Conversions API. Working with your pixel, Conversions API helps improve performance and measurement of your campaign. Because Conversions API doesn’t use cookies, you’ll have a better view into the measurements of your conversions beyond the people who have unblocked cookies. 
  • Aggregated Events Measurement. Another change on Facebook Ads is the limit of optimizing for a limit of 8 conversion events per domain. In the Aggregated Events Measurement tool, you’ll have to rank the importance of 8 conversion events that are the most meaningful to your business. If you optimize a campaign for anything outside of those ranked events, Facebook won’t deliver to or report on people who have opted out of tracking. 

This also serves as a time where marketers may want to shift towards other avenues. As advertising on Facebook becomes more and more expensive for businesses who have relied on it, where do they go when they’re spending more to get a quick one-off sale than they can afford to make a profit? How do you shift strategy for acquisition and growth for your business in your Shopify marketing strategy?

  • Rethinking attribution - Now that tracking is much more difficult, people have shifted towards measuring their marketing efficiency ratio (MER), which is sometimes referred to as blended ROAS because it refers to evaluating the ROI of ALL online advertising compared to platform-specific metrics. 
  • Product promotion strategy - It will now be more difficult to personalize ad content to individual users. Businesses with limited products may want to focus more on the brand story while businesses with a lot of products may want to promote best-sellers. 
  • Leverage lookalike audiences - Lookalike audiences will serve as one of the best ways to reach new audiences. 
  • Use lead ads to collect email addresses - Rather than relying on paid ads for one-off sales, use them as an opportunity to build and gather customer-first data. 
  • Focus on ad creative - Since ads will appeal to a broader audience, the approach to copy, content, promotions, media, and messaging may need to change. Creative will likely account for the majority of the equation to determine whether an ad is effective or not rather than a more emphasis on the hyper-targeted ad group. For customers who aren't familiar with your brand, UGC will play a key role in building trust. 
  • Reallocate time and budget - Because of the lack of visibility in attribution, many businesses are taking the time to explore other avenues. Organic social, influencer marketing, OTT advertising, CTV advertising, OOH advertising, PR, and SEO + SEM are some of the most popular strategies to drive traffic. 

Apple Updates Round 2: iOS 15

More privacy for you, less data for marketers

Man looking at computer screen

While there’s no going back to the way things used to be, there’s also no going back to the way things are right now. In the coming months, and likely even years, there will be a continuation in strides to advance privacy for the people. Early in June, Apple released the announcement of iOS 15 and what everyone can expect to change. While this won’t roll out until fall 2021, we already have a pretty good idea of what this will look like

  • Mail Privacy Protection. In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection will stop senders from using invisible pixels to track the users habits. This means that users will be able to stop sharing data on when they’ve opened an email, their location, and any online activity that can be linked to their IP address. 
  • App Privacy Report. In one location on the user’s iPhone, they’ll be able to look into what data they’ve shared with an app and correct any permissions they’ve granted that they may want to change. They’ll also be able to see what third-party domains their information may be shared with. 
  • iCloud+. Apple is aiming to enhance internet privacy even further with iCloud+. This will include Private Relay, which will allow users to browse in a more secure and private way. 

While marketers are sure to notice the effects of privacy changes pretty much everywhere, email marketing is where this will have the most impact. Users will be able to hide their emails from companies for enhanced privacy, thus taking away from measurement for email marketing. 

How Apple’s iOS 15 is expected to change email marketing

So, what’s changing in email marketing for Shopify marketing strategy? 

Push notification on the Mail app

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection and the users ability to hide their email is going to completely change the email marketing game. Now, email marketing platforms like Klaviyo and MailChimp, will no longer be able to track opens, forwards, and location-based metrics. While users will have to opt into this, we’ve seen with Apple’s iOS 14 updates that a lot of people likely will err on the side of privacy. 

The Hide My Email option will, again, make things a bit more difficult for email marketing. With this, users can sign up for email offers with an Apple-generated email address. When the email comes through to the generated email, it will be forwarded to your email. Because of this, deliverability will likely be impacted. 

Moving forward beyond iOS 15 updates

Adapting to iOS 15 updates for your Shopify marketing

Woman looking at email with laptop open

While this is absolutely going to change how marketers utilize email marketing, it’s not time to abandon ship. You just need to shift your Shopify marketing strategy and prepare for what’s to come

  • Gather metrics now. Now’s the time to start tracking your metrics heavily. Do tests to determine what performs best for your audience, whether that’s testing your subject lines, copy within the email, or content you include. Track what works best so you have an idea of performance when you no longer have access to track clicks and opens. 
  • Segment your email list. There are so many ways you can segment your email list. Without key tracking metrics, you’ll want to stray away from metric-based segmentation. Instead, focus on conditions like how recently they signed up and what they do on your website. 
  • Clean your subscriber list. Whether you have a large email list or a small one, cleaning your email list is crucial. Deliverability of your emails largely depends on how your current email subscribers interact with your emails. If they aren’t opening or clicking around, email providers may start considering your emails as spam and stop delivering to your subscribers main email inboxes. 

As a human, these changes are a move forward for more privacy in your day to day life. As a marketer, this means you’ll have to shift your Shopify marketing strategy to adapt to these changes when they fully roll out. Staying up to date with the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing can be difficult. The team at Responsival can help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help keep your strategy up to date.

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