As a business, you’ve been told to find more ways to provide one-to-one contacts with your customers. “One-to-one is the expectation of consumers” and “one-to-one will increase customer satisfaction.” What does that look like? Zero party data. First party data. Third party data.
How do we balance the need for personalization while also maintaining our customers digital privacy? Well, there are two big changes coming from Google and Apple that are boosting customers' digital privacy and will limit your ability to effectively generate one-to-one contacts via digital and search marketing.
WHAT’S CHANGING? – iOS 14.5 and FLoC
Let’s start with Apple. iOS 14.5 will release from its current Beta status any day now (end of March ’21). With that release, apps will be required to ask for user permissions before tracking user data and activity within the apps. This builds on previous updates to iOS which enabled users to easily determine which data and activities apps were tracking more easily.
Now for Google. Google has released a proposal to move away from third-party cookies to an interest-based advertising model called ‘Federated Learning of Cohorts’ or FLoC. FLoC clusters large groups of users based on similar interests and using data stored on individual users’ devices. Per Google’s proposal, “This approach effectively hides individuals “in the crowd” and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser.” Public testing of FLoC is starting this month (March ’21) with an expectation to begin testing for advertisers in Google Ads in Q2.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO ME?
If either of these changes were made in isolation, you’d likely need to rethink your digital marketing strategies. But since these changes are being made in similar time frames it requires much more of our attention. In the past, you’ve likely been using third-party cookies or device data to enable a digital one-to-one connection to individual customers. With these changes from Google and Apple, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to continue to rely on these methods.
Currently, 70% of users share their Identifier for Advertisers (or IDFA) with app publishers on iOS. This number is estimated to drop to 10-15% with the changes made in iOS 14.5. If/when Google converts to FLoC for Chrome users, joining Safari and Firefox browsers in no longer supporting third-party cookies, 86.5% of internet users will no longer be identified by third-party cookies.
This doesn’t mean that all customers affected by the changes will no longer see digital advertisements. It just means that the advertisements they do see are less likely to be targeted to them specifically and could be less relevant to them.
OK, I GET IT. BUT WHAT CAN I DO NOW?
There are a few ways you could look at this. One being spending energy and effort on a strategy for where the world is going. Privacy isn’t a fad, so you can’t expect these changes to be rolled back. If anything, expect that you’ll see less and less customer data available from third parties. Consider all the external sources of customer data you use, and think about how your strategy would change if they were no longer available.
Now, of course that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do in the short term. You’ll want to rethink ad channel setups, Apple Ad network setup, review current success metrics for ads, and refresh your conversion metrics and their values. But remember these efforts have a smaller time window to be effective compared to long term strategies.
There are three ideas to consider when refreshing your current tactics using conversion funnel as an outline.
1. Top of Funnel Engagement: Make sure to provide some immediate value to your customers at the very top of the funnel. Give the customer a reason to not only give you access to their data but trust you with that data. What that is will be highly dependent on your product, but it doesn’t need (and probably shouldn’t) be a sales tactic (e.g., offer, discount, etc.). Think of the micro-moment here, know, go, do, buy. our potential customer at the top of the funnel probably isn’t looking to buy right away. Which leaves you with know, go, or do. Figure out which one that customer is looking for and provide it right away. You may want to create a potential funnel for each that is applicable. Use these opportunities to capture the first/zero party data and set clear expectations to the customer on how their data will be used. That way, you can present the ‘buy’ moment when the time is right.
2. Middle of Funnel Nurturing and Demand Generation: Our team has focused on building products and tools for destinations and experiences. So, I will hazard the guess that if you’re reading this your product is likely experiential. Experiences happen at a certain timeframe and many at a specific time – the concert happens at this date/time, your visit to a museum is scheduled for a certain day, or your vacation is planned for the second week of August.
The time in which a customer enters the funnel can’t be standardized. Which means, for events with a specific time component, customers' time spent in the funnel will vary as well. The key point to consider here is to not force the customer to continually reposition themselves back to the top of the funnel. Meaning, don’t make your customers constantly search for information about your product or when it will be made available to them. At the top of the funnel, capture that fans specific product interest, make everything you currently know about the product available, and set clear expectations for when you’ll contact that customer with updates either supplying new information or a purchase option. Now is the time to execute on those expectations you set for the customer.
3. Bottom of Funnel Conversion Tools: Expect that you’ll no longer be guaranteed to be able to serve digital ads to abandoned carts, product page visitors, etc. Once you have a customer at this point in the funnel, make sure you’ve addressed any blockers to completing the transaction. Remember, not every customer has spent the same amount of time in the purchase funnel, nor can you expect customers to have retained all information from previous touch points. So make sure any and all information you have on the product is available and accessible to the customer at this point. The last thing you want is for the customer to leave the purchase path to search out answers to a question they have.
“The best way out is always through” and this is no different. Digital privacy is here to stay. Your customers want it, and so do you. While we may not like its implementation or the effect on our work, embracing it now is to the benefit of everyone. So embrace the change!