How Ecommerce Brands Are Growing in the Post-iOS-14 World
With recent iOS-14 changes coming into force, marketers are...worried (to say the least.)
iPhone users now have the option to turn off data sharing, and whenever they download any apps, they’ll have to grant (or not grant) tracking permission. As a result, cross-site tracking is essentially finished.
What’s more: ad prices on social media are soaring. Facebook prices were up 89% in 2021 and it’s now become so competitive 47% of marketers are worried about being “priced out” completely. Businesses that historically relied on this kind of data for audience segmentation and targeted ads are now having to adjust their approaches.
The reality is: Data privacy is here to stay. As a result, brands that adapt and invest in alternatives will be the ones that come out on top.
Social media advertising isn’t the only choice companies have in the post-iOS-14 world. There are several alternatives to explore.
1. Go outdoors
Marketing isn’t just about paid ads. Source: CROSSNET
After many months of lockdowns and limited social gatherings during the pandemic, people are ready to get outdoors and enjoy time with others. This presents a marketing opportunity for brands looking to build and deepen their communities through real, face-to-face gatherings.
Here’s how Chris Meade at CROSSNET is doing this:
In wake of iOS 14 challenges, CROSSNET has been leveraging its owned audience via email, SMS, and influencers to host in-person activations such as tournaments and meetups.
The name of the game is how many new eyeballs you can get on your product, so we’ve been paying college athletes and professional athletes to do meetups where they promote the sport, create content, and even sell using their affiliate code.
We’ve seen our cost per click go up over 400%, so now we’re doing anything and everything to test out new strategies that will hit our target demographic, keep costs low, and either result in sales, content, or a more passionate user.
2. Expand into retail
Retail serves a key purpose in today’s marketplace. Source: Hero Cosmetics
Despite constant prophecies about the death of retail, it is very much alive. Even so, brick-and-mortar doesn’t have to be the nexus of your sales system. Think of it as another piece of the puzzle.
The number of brands investing in omnichannel (both online and retail) soared from 20% in 2020 to 80% in 2021. Investing in retail is a great way to diversify your store and make sure all of your eggs aren’t in one basket in this post-iOS-14 world.
Like Ju Rhyu from Hero Cosmetics says:
Brick-and-mortar retail is a huge part of our strategy in how we find and connect with our consumers.
Our distribution strategy has been to sell where people buy acne products and a big part of where they buy them is in physical retailers like Target, Ulta, CVS, etc. Oftentimes, when we launch a product on DTC, we get a lot of comments asking when it'll be available at Target. Our consumers love shopping there and so Target is the perfect place to find and connect with Hero purchasers.
Physical retail is great for brand discovery, and when you can work with a retail partner to extend your brand off-shelf, those are powerful moments to connect with consumers. Branded end-caps, shelf-talkers, sampling events...these are all examples of how your brand can really stand out in retail. Do not underestimate the scale of physical retail: 70-80% of all commerce still happens in a store. It is a great hedge against iOS 14 and a way to reduce dependence on Facebook while still growing your sales and brand awareness.
3. Distribute through Amazon
Leverage the world’s largest ecommerce platform. Source: Amazon
Amazon is one of the world’s largest selling platforms with millions of customers. There’s no denying there’s money on the table with this sales channel. And if you’re not selling on Amazon—beware; your competitors will.
While many might be wary of being on Amazon, Molson Hart, founder and CEO of educational toy company Viahart, has generated millions in sales through channels like Amazon and Walmart.com.
If you are a nascent consumer brand, you want to be everywhere. The idea that you can sell products online without selling on the world’s biggest ecommerce marketplace is silly to me. Some customers will only buy on Prime.
In a post-iOS-14 world, you owe it to yourself to get your products on Amazon.
Adding Amazon as another sales channel means opening the doors to new opportunities, buyers, and brand exposure. By listing your products on the go-to shopping platform for more than 200 million curious shoppers, you help new people discover your brand and products.
4. Adopt SMS marketing
Start texting your customers. Source: Three Ships Beauty
88% of US residents admit to feeling a certain unease when they don’t have their phones nearby. We’re not saying that’s ideal—but it does mean smartphones are the most direct line of communication you can have with your customers. With the average user spending four hours a day looking at a phone, texting customers is a smart way to communicate with them.
Beauty brand Three Ships leaned into this tactic and invests heavily in SMS marketing. Here’s what marketer Lillie Sun had to say about it:
In the post-iOS-14 world, acquiring customers has become 10 times harder. This means you have to put 10 times more effort to retain the customers you have already acquired.
SMS is one of the best channels to do so. By running tests to determine what kind of messages your community resonates with the most, you can use text message marketing to build an intimate and caring relationship and that goes a long way in keeping your customers coming back.
5. Implement subscriptions
Subscriptions are the way of the future. Source: Doe Lashes
49% of consumers have an active subscription of some kind. One of the advantages of subscriptions is they work for almost any type of DTC brand: whether you’re selling software, clothes, food, or jewelry. And it’s a great way to build up customer lifetime value, as the boxes keep coming, month after month.
Doe Lashes, a K-beauty DTC lash brand, has thrived in the post-iOS-14 world by leaning into the subscription model. And they’re in good company—75% of DTC brands are predicted to offer subscription services by 2023.
Why? Here’s what Jason Wong, founder of Doe Lashes says:
Especially with prospecting ads getting more challenging, we've been able to survive iOS 14 and beyond by focusing on extending the lifetime value of our customers.
One way we’ve done this is by doubling down on subscriptions with a platform called Skio. We made the subscription interface more seamless on our site as well as leveraged Postscript for SMS post-engagement on our site.
By creating a better experience for shoppers (such as allowing flexible subscription terms as well as a friendly conversation through text message to facilitate subscription adjustments), we've seen an increase in subscriptions month over month which has made revenue forecasting easier.
6. Get more data through quizzes
Quizzing your customers is a great way to collect data. Source: Polysleep
Data is at even more of a premium with the iOS-14 changes. But just because it’s harder to capture third-party data, it doesn’t mean you should invest all your money in Facebook ads. Brands should go back to the basics and leverage the data that their customers willingly give them.
And that’s not just first-party cookies. You can reach out directly to your customers with surveys and quizzes, and see what’s on their minds.
Here’s what Megan Berry, VP at Octane.ai had to say about it:
In a post-iOS-14 world, merchants should be focusing on building direct relationships with their customers and using that data to supercharge their owned channels, particularly email and SMS.
Quizzes are one of the best ways to collect valuable data directly from customers, also known as zero-party data. For quizzes built on Octane AI, we've seen merchants increase average order value by an average of 20% (with some increasing it as high as 45%) and triple opt-ins collected.
But my favorite benefit of using a quiz? After learning more about your customers, you can make their experiences truly personalized and build better relationships by talking directly to their specific needs. This leads to an increase in the lifetime value of a customer.
Look, we get it. It’s not easy to get customers to respond to these types of survey requests. A 5% - 30% response rate is common. But there are ways to improve that number:
- Embedding the survey in the body of the email
- Tell them how long a survey will take to eliminate uncertainty
- Offer them a discount upon completion
By conducting quizzes, you’ll likely see an uptick in your response rates, gain valuable data, and build a closer relationship with your customers. It’s a win-win.
Adapt and grow
Doubling down on social media ads isn’t the only strategy out there for surviving in a post-iOS-14 world. The trend for privacy is only growing, and brands that diversify their marketing approach in the ways outlined in this article will be future-proofing themselves for any coming changes.
Not all of these answers will be right for every brand. But there’s bound to be one idea in this article you can run with—if you’re interested in breaking the shackles of social media advertising and building a close relationship with customers that you own.