Carolyn Lowe, CEO and Founder of ROI Swift and Author of Business Do’s and Absolute Don’ts
Many brands today are facing challenges with evaluating paid advertising vehicles and even email marketing since Apple’s iOS 15 rolled out in September.
Those with iPhones have likely seen a pop-up that asks if you want to opt in to tracking across apps and websites. This feature was added in one of Apple’s previous updates. Simply put, when users opt in to sharing that data, brands can know when they’ve visited a site, which can be helpful in marketing and targeting the right services to the right people. When a user opts out of sharing that information, brands lose that visibility. According to Statista, as of mid-September, only around 21% of iOS users had opted in to tracking.
For companies, losing access to this data can be challenging, particularly when it comes to advertising. My digital marketing agency works with emerging e-commerce brands, and I’m finding that these are the companies being hit hardest. My team has been fielding questions over the past few months regarding how to make up for that loss of data. Here are a few strategies that I’ve seen work well:
1. Grow your email list with pop-ups.
Pop-ups are the small windows that you see “pop up” when you visit a website. Most brands that sell consumer goods will have some sort of pop-up on their home page that entices you to sign up for emails or SMS texts; the lure is often a discount on your first purchase or early access to new products and services. In my experience, most consumers don’t scroll to the bottom of a page where email sign-ups are, so pop-ups can be a helpful solution.
Keep in mind, however, that one size doesn’t fit all on pop-ups. My team, for example, uses a general pop-up on the home page, but on a different page with educational content, like a blog, for example, the text might be about signing up to get the latest news on that topic. You want to make sure the user’s intentions fit with what you’re offering them if they sign up for your email or SMS notifications.
2. Leverage partnerships and influencers.
Another way you can step up your advertising efforts is by reaching out to the bloggers and influencers your customers are listening to. It’s always better to have someone else talk about you than you talking about yourself. To get started, follow hashtags that are relevant to your business. See what your ideal customers are commenting on and what they’re saying. From there, if you’re on a limited budget, you can connect with micro-influencers who are passionate about your brand. In my experience, you often compensate these influencers in products.
3. Consider how you could better optimize your social ads.
While consumers can opt out of tracking across websites, brands can still optimize their ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. (Full disclosure: My company is a Facebook agency partner.) To do this, consider your goals for the ad: Do you want people to visit your website (i.e., generate traffic)? Do you want people to get familiar with your brand? Do you want them to make a purchase? Depending on what your objective is, you can use Facebook and Instagram ads to get most of your desired outcome at the best cost.
For example, brands can optimize for things like engagement. You can show an ad that’s tailored to what your audience liked, commented on or otherwise engaged with in a post, ad or video.
4. Use UTM links.
I also recommend using urchin tracking modules. UTMs are a simple code you add to the end of a URL. This code lets brands know where a visitor came from. My team has always used UTM tags, and I believe they are more important than ever to help you track certain variables, such as where the traffic came from and which particular ad creative drove the visit.
5. Consider leveraging additional platforms.
Back in 2018, Facebook cut access to third-party data used for targeting ads, according to TechCrunch. This data came from outside sources and included consumer purchase data. However, I’ve seen there are other platforms that can still access and append those third-party data enhancements. For this reason, brands can consider advertising on other social media platforms as well, such as TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat.
No matter which platform you use, remember that content is king. Make engaging content that users want to watch and — more importantly — share. Think back to the last thing you shared online: What was compelling about that content, and did it make your audience want to forward or share it with someone else?
Furthermore, remember that the key will be getting as much first-party data on your own customers as possible. I’ve seen brands testing direct mail, TV and other non-digital advertising methods as well.
Brands would be smart to test multiple strategies prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.