What The New iOS Update Means For Your Ecommerce Store
The past year has seen big changes in how users manage their online privacy. We’ve talked about these privacy updates for email marketing in the past. New iOS updates for Apple and privacy updates regarding the way Google collects cookies have forced the marketing world to adapt and rethink their strategies. The bottom line is that customers value their privacy more than ever. Not only can you expect these changes to stick, but chances are more updates will arrive in the years ahead.
For Ecommerce stores, this fundamentally changes how your business has to operate. If that sounds scary, don’t worry–this guide will walk you through specifically what these changes are, what they mean for your ecommerce store, and what you can do to adapt to these iOS changes.
What Is Apple iOS?
Before we dive into the privacy changes and how they affect your ecommerce business, it’s important to know exactly what “iOS” is. Apple iOS is the operating system for Apple products, including the iPad and iPhone. There are over 1 billion iPhone users, which means a lot of the customers on your ecommerce store most likely use Apple iOS.
Tracking Privacy Updates
The latest update for iOS, called iOS 15, includes an option for users to decide for themselves whether they want their data to be collected and shared through certain apps. As it turns out, the vast majority of Apple users prefer to opt out of as much data collecting as possible. In fact, roughly nine out of ten users choose this option.
This is enforced through the App Store, implemented through their Tracking Transparency Prompt. Apps have to comply with these privacy options to even be included in the App Store, otherwise they are removed. Users are now given the option whether their data is tracked and collected. In the past, this was all much more lax.
Facebook Advertising Changes
Because users can now opt out of tracking with the Apple App Tracking Transparency (ATT), it presents some big changes for targeted ads. It’s harder to target and personalize Facebook ads when you’re running off of what is now limited data. If your ecommerce store relies on Facebook sales, there’s a few things you need to be aware of.
The most important thing to do is verify your domain which lets you claim ownership of the page, edit ads, and prevent interruptions that might occur for non-verified pages. When your page is verified, it also builds trust between your ecommerce store and customers so they know it’s genuine.
It also means your ecommerce store may have to broaden its marketing. Limited data means every hyper-focused ad runs the risk of missing its intended target. Instead of taking shots in the dark with specific ads, try making your ads more widely appealing. That way, you know you’re at least guaranteed to hit the mark to some degree.
The good news is that there’s still some key data available through Facebook despite these new iOS privacy updates. You can still retarget users that have “liked” your Facebook page, for instance, and you should frequently use this to your advantage. But the overall big picture for your ecommerce store has definitely changed, and you’ll need to adapt to stay on top of things.
Email Privacy Updates
iOS 15 also provides some substantial updates for email privacy. Apple users now have the ability to turn off email opening data. Because of this, ecommerce businesses won’t exactly know whether their emails are getting opened. Another privacy option includes letting users hide their IP address, which effectively hides their location as well. This makes it more difficult to gauge where your audiences are succeeding and where they aren’t being reached.
One other substantial change is the “hide my email” option, which lets Apple users create a “fake” email address when signing up for a list on an app or website. This fake email address receives their email subscriptions, then forwards them to their actual email address. Ecommerce businesses now have a harder time knowing for certain who is signed up and who isn’t.
Rethinking Ecommerce Email
Now that e-commerce businesses can no longer rely on open rates to gauge success, what can be done instead? Luckily, there’s still plenty of valuable information at your fingertips. Your new metric for success should start with click rates.
In a lot of ways, click rates are just as beneficial to you as any other form of data. If a user is clicking on links and images in your emails, you know they’re staying engaged. But click rates are really just the tip of the iceberg. Once you’ve got an email subscriber to click a link from your emails and direct them to your ecommerce store, you open up all sorts of opportunities to gather important data that is still available.
That means it’s time to take a deeper dive into looking at things like activity on your website, what products they’re viewing, what items they’re browsing and purchasing, and whether they’re making it to the checkout or not. Open rates were a handy tool to have for Apple users, but this is where you get a real idea for success and where you need to fine tune your email strategies.
Safari Browser Coupon Extensions
The new wide-reaching privacy update also includes browser extensions for Safari, the default internet browser for Apple products. With this update, Safari became the first mobile web browser with extension capabilities. Among these new options is a coupon extension that users can install for their Safari browser. Until now, coupon extensions had been pretty rare and limited to non-mobile browsing.
A coupon extension functions as an extremely thorough, fast search system for any available coupons that might be applicable at checkout. Sometimes, a discount code gets shared on social media or couponing websites and starts to circulate widely. This is referred to as “coupon leakage,” and it can hurt businesses quickly.
When a customer uses a coupon code at checkout, the coupon extension takes that code, adds it to its database, and then lets every user with the extension try the same code at checkout. It quickly scrapes every source it has to find anything that might provide a discount for users.
When these coupon codes leak, ecommerce businesses might quickly see their codes “used up” so to speak, preventing their targeted audience from even using them. Now you’ve got a swath of transactions coming in at discount prices, but not from the audience you’re trying to keep around. Soon, your budget dries up and the campaign really hurts your bottom line.
How To Handle Coupon Extensions
Given that about 70% of all ecommerce sales are now done through mobile shopping, this has some pretty significant ramifications for your ecommerce business. If you’re not careful, they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this.
The most important thing you can do when running a coupon campaign is to ensure there are a limited number of redemptions that are available. Once they’re gone, they’re gone—it effectively keeps your bottom line from falling out from under you.
You can do this by setting a budget within your coupons. This can be set to either a certain amount of uses or a monetary amount. Either way, you’ll want to put this in place to act as your safety net. That way you’re protected against coupon extensions scraping away at your revenue. If you forget to set these parameters and run a discount campaign, you could find yourself in huge trouble very quickly!
Safari Browser Layout Changes
While this aspect isn’t about privacy, it does come included in the iOS updates and you should be aware of it. The Safari browser for Apple products has switched the address tab to the bottom of the screen as the default setting, as opposed to the top.
It sounds like an unimportant change on the surface, but it’s actually a big deal for ecommerce stores. It fundamentally changes how users see and interact with your ecommerce store on their mobile devices. The new placement of the address bar might be covering up important information on your website without you even knowing it!
Users do have the option to change this back to the original placement on the screen, but this is the new default. A good portion of your users might be looking at your ecommerce store in a different way than usual. This serves as a crucial reminder for all ecommerce stores: make sure your website looks ideal in both desktop and mobile view. Optimizing your layouts for mobile is more important than ever, and now you have to keep in mind that even your mobile view can look different from user to user. Take some time to give it a thorough inspection with both settings and make sure it works both ways.
The email privacy updates have far-reaching ramifications for your ecommerce store, but there’s another tool in your toolkit that can make a world of difference: SMS marketing.
SMS marketing stands for “short message service” marketing, and it utilizes text messages as a form of connecting with your customer base. You can basically think of it as text message marketing, and it’s incredibly effective for ecommerce businesses.
SMS marketing has a few key elements that are crucial for the privacy-first world we now live in. First off, the fact that it’s mobile-based is ideal for ecommerce stores since such a high percentage of transactions are done through customers’ phones now. Plus, it’s customer-first while maintaining their privacy.
SMS Marketing Benefits
If you’ve noticed a drop–or plateau–in email subscribers lately, SMS marketing is your ace in the hole. Plus, if you’re worried about losing the data on open rates for your email, SMS marketing will change all of that for your ecommerce store. SMS marketing has an extremely high open rate: around 98%. To compare it to a common email platform such as Mailchimp, it’s only around 20% or so.
Why such a huge difference? As these iOS updates have proven, more and more customers are valuing their privacy more than ever. Their email inboxes can get flooded by spam and unwanted messages that they didn’t even sign up for. Your emails, even if they’re well written, well designed, and effective, can get lost in the shuffle.
But text messaging is quick and customer-first. They only get the messages they want, and they receive a notification the instant the text arrives. It only takes a quick second to open and read, making it extremely convenient. Not only that, but it also has great response rates as well. As we move forward in a privacy-focused world, SMS marketing is going to become more and more useful.
SMS Marketing Strategies
Incentivize Your Audience
If you’re looking to pick up the slack for your ecommerce store from email marketing with the iOS updates, you’ll want to incentivize your audience to subscribe to your SMS marketing. If you’re simply asking them to sign up for another notification service without any perks, chances are they’ll tune it out and forget about it.
Luckily, SMS marketing is extremely effective when you offer subscribers any sort of benefit. There’s a few easy ways to do this. One of the most common methods is simply to offer a one-time discount. As soon as they sign up, give them a small percentage of their next order. This very quickly and effectively gets the job done, building up your base in a short amount of time.
Your ecommerce store can also offer long-term benefits as well. Consider giving them early access to new products for signing up. Depending on the industry your ecommerce store operates in, you can even offer a product subscription service to coincide with the SMS marketing subscription. Two birds, one stone. You keep them engaged while offering them the best deals for continued support.
There’s a great side perk that comes with this territory as well. When you’re able to gather up new subscribers quickly, you also get lots of important data at the same time. What sort of incentivizing perks are clicking with your customer base? Which ones need tweaking? SMS marketing lets you communicate directly with your audience, so you can get data and feedback in real time. Use this to fine-tune your strategies going forward, and you’ll always stay one step ahead of the curve.
How are customers finding your ecommerce store? Are they discovering it through social media? Do you have a retail store that they’re familiar with? Was it a referral? This is important data to be aware of so you can not only engage with your current audience, but discover new ones as well.
One way to do this is by using post-purchase surveys. Once someone makes a purchase on your ecommerce store, consider sending them a quick survey to fill out. You can ask them where they heard about you, what products they’re interested in, and other bits of data that are good to know.
The iOS privacy updates can make targeted ads and look-alike audiences a bit more challenging, so using this data is crucial. One strategy to consider is broadening your messaging to reach a wider audience instead of relying on hyper-focused targeting. It requires a little more strategy and effort, but the payoff is potentially huge. You never know what new audiences your ecommerce store might reach when you branch out.
Branching Out To New Platforms
The last thing you want to do is keep emailing people that don’t want to be contacted. But iOS privacy updates mean a good portion of your subscribers no longer provide data on whether they’re even opening your emails or not. So instead of dumping most of your budget into one avenue, it’s time to branch out.
Ecommerce stores can find success on a number of platforms. Social media provides a ton of avenues for you to explore, and each platform has a different demographic to reach and style to adapt to. More and more ecommerce businesses are trying out platforms like TikTok and finding success.
The avenues you explore should largely depend on what type of ecommerce store you run. A platform like TikTok has a younger demographic, so make sure your goods and products are actually suited for that audience before you dive headfirst into it. But branching out your strategies is always worth exploring so you can stay forward-thinking in your market.
The bottom line is that the iOS updates do present some new challenges for ecommerce stores. But the marketing world is always evolving, and this is just another hurdle you’ll be able to clear if you stay smart and play your cards right. This serves as a reminder for a crucial aspect of ecommerce that is more important than ever: customer retention.
Short-term sales are nice, but you need long-term growth for your business to stay sustainable. How can you get your audience to stick around for years to come? You need to stay forward thinking. Loyalty programs, product subscription services, and personalized content are all still great methods that aren’t going anywhere.
Ecommerce Business Growth Made Easy
At KARMA jack, we use modern marketing to help your business grow. We’re here to increase your sales and revenue so you can find the long-term, sustainable growth you deserve.