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What You Need to Know About Apple’s iOS 15 Updates & Its Potential Effect on Your Email Marketing Efforts

Data privacy continues to be top-of-mind for marketers especially for some of the largest – and arguably most influential – players in the digital space. Recently, Apple announced its iOS 15 software update that will significantly impact marketers. More specifically, it will influence how we measure email success.

Be In the Know

With the iOS 15 update, it is likely that email open rates will be inflated. The level of inflation will be determined by number of Apple Mail users in a company’s email file or customer-base. In 2020, about 50% of emails opened were from Apple products using the Mail feature.  

What to Expect

  • Open rates will be inflated.
    • With iOS 15, Apple Mail automatically downloads images. This then triggers the tracking pixels embedded to send an “opened” response back to the ESP server.
    • Even if a user does not open an email, this new feature will trigger an “opened” response the moment that images are downloaded.
  • Date and time could be inaccurate.
    • With Apple Mail, the “opened” signal is sent the moment the images are downloaded. Therefore, marketers will have no way of knowing that when the images are downloaded, the prospect or customer was viewing the email.
  • Triggers or workflows based on an “opened email” will be disrupted.
    • It is common practice for marketers to resend campaigns to consumers who did not open the email the first time a campaign is launched. With iOS 15, marketers will not know who specifically opened the email and therefore, would risk resending the email to the wrong individuals.
  • Location-based email targeting relying on IP address will no longer be reliable.
    • This new feature masks Apple users’ IP addresses, so their online activity and location will not automatically link.
    • The functionality of the “countdown” clock widget may be impacted, but we do not know for certain yet.

What This Means For You

We understand that this update is creating new hurdles for marketers. We are with you! However, it is important to look at the bright side:

  • This update will not impact all email subscribers. Right now, Google, Outlook and other email users make up more than 60% of the global share and they have not announced any updates.
  • Clicks and click-through-rates (CTR) will not be affected by this update, which are often even more accurate metrics to determine engagement.
  • This is a time to get creative. We can tie site traffic to an email campaign, enlist the help of clickmaps, and analyze unsubscribe rates.
  • A/B testing is still an option! Taking subject line testing as an example, marketers will still be able to determine an outlier even though open rates will be inflated. As a secondary option, clicks can also determine this winner. If a Call-to-action (CTA) is featured, marketers can measure success through conversion data or site activity.

As marketers, we understand not only the importance of data & analytics, but why keeping data privacy at the forefront of your omnichannel strategy is necessary. In fact, a couple of months ago, we published articles encouraging your proactivity regarding data privacy and how to be data compliant in 2021. However, no one can prepare for the updates that the industry’s largest players have made, and will continue to make. We can only accept these challenges, and design new systems and processes in accordance with them. We are steadfast in bringing you the most innovative and cutting-edge solutions, and we will continue to do so, even with the iOS 15 update in place. 

Sources include Lift Engine, Hubspot, Apple, and AdWeek.

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Looking Back at 2020 Holiday Shopping Digital Results & Trends

Due to the global supply chain, retail distribution has been quite challenging these days. Last month, we encouraged marketers to think about delays in terms of your omnichannel strategy for the holiday season. While we are looking ahead and preparing for what is to come, we decided it would be helpful to look back as well. Focusing on 2020 holiday shopping digital results and trends, there is a story to be told for this year’s predictions and results.

  • Annual Events & Celebratory Days

Last year, online shopping hit all-time records. Revenue grew by 32% YoY and exceeded $188.2B for the first time (source: Adobe Analytics). Thanksgiving Day resulted in a record 20%+ YoY in online sales with consumer spend $5B+. On Black Friday, consumers spent $9B, making it a top online shopping day (source: Search Engine Land). Cyber Monday spending exceeded $10B (source: Investopedia). While November and December are important months, the impact of annual events and celebratory days is unrivaled year after year.

Smartphones vs. Tablets and Desktops

In looking at the record-breaking spending on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday in 2020, much of that shopping occurred on smartphones. In fact, almost 50% of the transactions from Thanksgiving day were completed on smartphones, which was yet another record; and 40% of spending on Black Friday was executed on a smartphone (source: Search Engine Land). With digital adoption climbing, we expect smartphones to continue winning with holiday shopping this year.

  • Changing Consumer Behavior

Both physical behavior as well as interests and values are important factors to consider. In terms of physical behavior last year, hours spent on shopping apps was up 50% YoY (source: App Annie via Forbes). When discussing values, interests and what U.S. consumers bought for holiday 2020, 63% purchased products online that they had not considered before the pandemic; this number rose to 75% for millennials (source: PFS Commerce via Forbes). This year, consumers will likely focus on the technology itself; frictionless checkouts, fast load speeds and more will undoubtedly drive success for competing retailers.

Power of Social Media

Social media was the reason that 45% of consumers “discovered something new online last [holiday] season and said it was a gift for someone” (source: Big Commerce). Additionally, it was the first year that Facebook Shops became available. Since then, we have seen the power of not only Facebook Shops, but the importance of both paid and organic social as well as the power of influencer marketing in this era of intense digital adoption.  

  • Importance of Reviews, Powered by Customer Experience

Customers relied heavily on reviews and recommendations in 2020. The number of digital touchpoints that a brand has with a consumer is constantly evolving. For example, BOPIS was a huge draw for consumers with convenience and experience remaining top-of-mind. With increasing retailer competition, reviews and recommendations became that much more important. Looking at how much consumers relied on reviews last year, there is an opportunity to capitalize on those positive reviews with your marketing spend. 

In reviewing many of holiday 2020’s top digital trends, specific learnings can be applied to holiday 2021. For example, positive reviews can be included in SEM to increase paid search results; influencer marketing can both inspire purchase decisions and provide branded content; and hot new channels like Connected TV (CTV) can capitalize on smartphone usage.

All in all, if the big gift you’re asking for this holiday season is significant ROI and impactful revenue streams from your marketing campaigns, we can deliver, just put it on your list!

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The Truth About Your Campaign Metrics: Facebook Announces that Apple Data Is Skewing Conversions

As digital adoption continues to soar post-pandemic, it is evident just how interconnected we really are. This week, Facebook began to quantify the negative aspects of this interconnectivity.

On Wednesday, September 22nd, Facebook announced that it underreported ad performance due to Apple’s iPhone privacy update for its iOS operating system. Specifically, Facebook estimated that it is currently underreporting web conversions on Apple’s iOS by approximately 15% and that this could affect advertisers of various sizes in many ways.

Why This Happened

Recently, Apple made a pivotal update for its users; now iPhone and iPad users will need to opt in to being tracked when they launch an app for the first time. It is now evident how much this new parameter affected advertisers’ campaigns.

What This Means For You

Facebook Vice President of Product Marketing shared in a blog post: “We believe that real world conversions, like sales and app installs, are higher than what is being reported for many advertisers.” Therefore, the results that you are seeing are likely lower than how your campaign is actually performing. 

How We Can Help

Partnership is at our core. We understand that this is not an ideal situation, but because of our strong industry ties and media relationships, we will get through this together. In fact, our digital and data & analytics teams are already working on solutions and adjustments considering this news, which includes:

  1. Working with our Facebook reps to further understand the percentage of users/conversions being impacted across each of our individual clients, and then building models that factor in the potential data loss
  2. Leveraging our clients’ website analytics tools (Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, etc.) to measure key engagement and conversion data points to supplement data coming directly from Facebook.
  3. Researching additional technology solutions to layer on top of Facebook and website analytics platforms to help fill any gaps in the data (however, we are in the early days of these new data privacy issues, and this is more of a longer-term play).

As marketers, we always aim to keep our tech stack fresh, current, and innovative. We are looking forward to solving the challenge Facebook and Apple have presented to us. We are especially looking forward to delivering to you the positive results we know your campaign is driving towards. Stay tuned!

Sources include CNBC, Facebook, and AdAge.