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With the social media boom, privacy has become a huge concern in recent years. Companies like Facebook and Google allegedly track people’s data outside of their apps, or passively use their microphone. This was all the case until Apple decided to “stand up” for the people and introduce iOS14.5 to help block those pesky cookies from tracking your data and following you around the internet. (This move was totally for the people and not for Apple’s gain; it’s not like they’re trying to cut down competition before they release their own advertising platform, right?)
With iOS14 implemented, many platforms took a hit to their ability to track data and feed that data back to increase advertising performance. The biggest culprit here is Facebook, with honorable mentions going to Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, and Google. Since you can’t really make any data-backed decisions without any data, it’s important to set yourself up for success when it comes to advertising on these platforms. So today, I’ll be covering the 5 essentials you need to implement into your ecommerce store to combat iOS14.
If you’re advertising on Facebook (which I assume you are), you know the power of the Facebook Pixel and how it’s the make-or-break function behind Facebook advertising. Having your Pixel installed correctly is vital to your advertising efforts—that’s why the first essential you should cover is to install the pixel and have the Conversion API/Server Side Tracking installed on your site, with aggregated events set up. The Conversion API is a basic way to increase conversion attribution without losing much data. Here, you’re able to track people using your store through the Pixel on a server versus through cookies like before. Since iOS mainly blocks cookies from being reported back to the source (Facebook), this is crucial to set up.
Setting them up is either super easy or kinda annoying. If you’re on the Shopify platform, you’ve lucked out and you have the easy part. To activate conversion API, you need to have the Facebook app and flip the switch “on” to extended tracking coverage.
If you’re on Woocommerce, Squarespace, Wix, Magento, etc., then you need to use Google Tag Manager to install the conversions API. While I’m not going to cover the exact method in this article, here’s a simple tutorial on how to install Conversion API on Woocommerce if you need to set this up.
Once those are done, you have to get your domain verified with Facebook and set up aggregated events. Both of these are easy to do. One involves going to your hosting software and entering a verification code, while the other just involves you prioritizing the specific conversion events you want Facebook to hyper focus on. Here you have 8 slots to prioritize your events.
We prioritize these events in order:
2. Initiate checkout
3. Add to cart
4. View content
6 Payment Information Taken
7. Any other extra events that you have
Now that we have proper tracking-setup in place, it’s time to move on to the next point.
Although this iOS update throws a wrench into many advertising efforts and makes attributing purchases to their original source difficult, I don’t think the world is going to end because of iOS14. This is because of 2 reasons. One, Facebook just became a trillion-dollar company this week. Since advertising is the core of their revenue, I can assure you they’re not going to take this lying down. Reason 2 is that people have been advertising throughout the world with great success for thousands of years without Pixel tracking, building up empires in the process. So while losing our ability to track people sucks, advertising and marketing are reverting back to basics and this is where you need to depend on the top 3 things.
One of those things is having a good, unique product or service. While this may sound pretty obvious, most businesses don’t have a unique selling point or product offering for the customer to even care about. If the customer doesn’t care, then they won’t buy. An obvious example would be IBM vs Apple in the 80s. Everyone knew IBM as this robotic company that just made black and beige boxes with green-tint screens that were purely for work. Then Apple came in to show that you don’t have to be a black and beige box to sell computers, and that you can also use computers for creative things like drawing, music, filmmaking, or writing. That gave Apple a unique selling point in over 99% of the market at the time, and they took that USP and ran with it to become one of the world’s biggest companies today.
Second is having great, concrete messaging throughout your brand. Another obvious one, but again, many stores fail to represent their “why.” Why should a person care about your brand, or why should they even buy the product? For example, why do people buy Teslas? It’s not because they make electric cars. Porsche, Ford, Audi, VW, Honda, Chevrolet and many more produce electric cars, but Tesla is still seen as the GOAT of electric cars. It’s because people believe in Tesla’s mission to create a cleaner environment through the use of renewable energy powered vehicles, and Elon Musk always preaches that foundational goal. It’s one thing to say that you’re trying to make the world a better place, but another to only offer electric cars, versus the other brands that I mentioned only dipping their toes into electric cars. If you want to find your “why,” I highly recommend watching this video from Simon Sinek on the power of why.
Lastly is knowing your target market. I talked about this extensively in my last resource on how to laser target your ideal customer, and the point that I tried to drill in there was that you need to figure out your ideal customer avatar. Your customer avatar is the bedrock of all your marketing. Without knowing who to market to, you will always market to the wrong people, and getting sales will be a game of luck versus something predictable. I would highly recommend you go through that resource and answer all the questions in order to understand your ideal customer better.
Overall, I would just recommend analyzing your store to see if you’re doing these three things to the best of your ability and discover where you’re lacking, then improving those areas as soon as possible.
Solidifying your product, messaging, and audience all leads up to one thing that will not only help you with tracking, but will also scale your store past the stratosphere. That thing is crafting a no-brainer offer to your target audience, specifically focusing on that offer, iterating that offer, and scaling it through the help of paid advertising. While the word “offer” sounds a bit vague and abstract, a good example of this would be a Charcuterie board.
Think of all the different products your store sells as if they’re different pieces of the board: the cheese, olives, smoked meats, crackers, wine, dip, etc. When you’re marketing those individual products, there’s nothing unique here. Think about how many thousands of stores already sell those specific products. But when you put all of those products together on a wooden cutting board, package it up nicely, and create a unique offer by combining those products together for a great price, that’s when you start to differentiate yourself from the competition. Plus this will be more scalable, as you’ll be able to charge a premium because it’s already put together and will have way better margins. For the people that love charcuterie boards, but don’t want to make them themselves, this is a no brainer. They will happily pay you money for this product, not to mention you can upsell them multiple add-ons to the board to increase the AOV even more. Now that I think about it, I might as well open up a charcuterie board store, haha.
But you get the point, crafting an offer for your target audience is win win win, so I would highly recommend taking market feedback and seeing if combining two products into one would make the customer experience better. Plus the added benefit of focusing on one offer is that you can build your online advertising around that one offer, thereby optimizing the messaging, creative, and targeting even further. Utilize landing pages, direct response copy, and more to help scale. Paid acquisition should be seen as gasoline being poured on the fire that is your offer.
I mentioned in the introduction that most of the advertising-based digital/social platforms are being affected by iOS14—Snapchat, Pinterest, Google, and Tiktok. I don’t think you should shy away from actually diversifying your current traffic sources onto those platforms and trying out your offer there. If Facebook is bringing in 90% of traffic to your store, then you should definitely try and diversify. Those paid mediums are great sources, but they don’t compare to the power of a digital marketing source that is heavily underutilized by the majority of ecommerce stores.
That source is search engine optimization. While SEO sounds boring (and to be frank, it is a bit boring and slow), it’s insanely overpowered when it comes to longevity in your store. With relatively low monthly cost, you can significantly raise your bottom line through optimizing your store and getting it ranked to the top of Google Search Results. While this isn’t as exciting as running Facebook ads, this is probably the most stable way of getting sales to your store through intent based searches for your product. So to diversify, you can spread out your paid acquisition and start implementing light to medium SEO strategies in your store to increase the longevity and stability of traffic. It may take more time than Facebook ads, but trust me: it’s worth it.
Lastly, this is a point that many bring up first when it comes to “fixing” iOS14 problems. People see it as a tracking/attribution problem instead of an offer, product or messaging problem. There’s a reason why I put this essential item last on the list, and that’s mainly because if everything above is implemented correctly, you honestly wouldn’t have to implement this type of system into your business.
These systems are data attribution software—we’re talking about Hyros, Segment, and Wicked Reports. These are pretty much the top 3 when it comes to data attribution for your store, and they help you track the people that buy from your store and feed that data back into the platforms you use (like Facebook or Google) to help them perform better. We personally prefer to work with Hyros (full transparency, I’m a big fan of Alex Becker) as that’s the software we have the most experience with. However, Segment and Wicked Reports are great to use as well and have their place in the market. This will help with tracking, but honestly like I said before, most of the time it’s actually an offer, product, messaging, and audience problem. So those things need to be solved before implementing the attribution software, and right now we have many clients that have the top 4 locked in and are doing just fine without any effect from iOS14.5.
So when it comes to combating iOS14.5 and any future privacy updates that Apple or Google might implement, there’s really no point in fighting it. These companies aren’t going to revert their software just because some advertisers complained. It’s best to evolve with the times and go back to the basics of marketing because essentially, Facebook is just a marketing tool. It’s the messaging you put through that helps drive sales, not FB itself. Facebook is just the messenger, and a goddamn good one too. People in the space were having mass hysteria when Facebook went through the Cambridge Analytica hearings and had to dial back their audiences, yet people lived on and still made fortunes through Facebook. So take this roadblock as a challenge, because adapting to something new like this will take time and effort, but if done right you’ll succeed in the new space. Best of luck with your advertising endeavors.
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