Email Marketing and iOS Update

Retailers today use every marketing channel available, from paid search to email and direct mail. Consider the retailer who uses Facebook ads to increase brand awareness and sales. Facebook’s targeting tools use a variety of data sources, including phone activity. The higher the ROAS, the more targeted the ads. But what if that data vanishes? To maintain the status quo, retailers may need to spend more on advertising.

This reality is now unfolding before our eyes. To Facebook’s dismay, Apple’s upcoming iOS privacy update will ask users if they want Facebook to track their phone activity to deliver personalized ads. As a result, Facebook and Apple are squabbling like siblings over who gets to drive.

Despite their popularity, social and search channels give companies little control over who sees their content and when. The ability to target customers selectively and cost-effectively is no longer in the hands of retailers.

Consider it for a moment.

Facebook vs. Apple’s Impact on Email Marketing

On Facebook, Lindsay from New York will see ads from companies trying to sell her the next best product—but she didn’t ask for them. While it may catch her eye, consumers like Lindsay are trained to ignore ads.

The good news for ecommerce is that they could target the Lindsays of the world. But removing personalization from the brand will reduce ad effectiveness, and Facebook agrees. In testing, publishers lost over 50% of revenue when personalization was removed from mobile app ad install campaigns.

Email, on the other hand, is an opt-in channel. Consumers who receive promotional emails from businesses request them. They entered their email and confirmed their interest. As a result, when they open an email, they are already in a shopping mood.

Email marketing has gone from a hot new trend to being declared dead, only to rise again like a phoenix. In reality, despite the rise of new marketing channels, email has not vanished.

Email marketing had its best year ever in 2020. Our research found that promotional campaign conversion rates ended the year at 6.5%, up 111%, while automated message conversion rates ended at 30%, up 95%. Even more importantly, as consumers shifted to online shopping during the pandemic, email’s performance improved, demonstrating the potential of opt-in channels.

The ability to opt out of email marketing is part of its longevity. If a subscriber no longer wants to receive emails, they can unsubscribe. Rather than waste money on a customer who doesn’t want to hear from them, companies have come to appreciate it. Ultimately, this improves the channel’s cost and performance.

Paid search, for example, puts you in direct competition with other businesses. Email isn’t like that. Whether you compete with one or a hundred companies, the cost of sending an email remains the same, and the consumer data you collect is secure.

Don’t Ignore Other Opt-in Channels’ Growth

Email may be only the beginning. Other opt-in marketing channels, like SMS and web push notifications, are joining the party, with massive year-over-year increases in 2020.

The number of SMS messages sent increased nearly 400% last year, and conversion rates increased over 100%. Brands and consumers alike value SMS as a ubiquitous communication channel, especially during peak shopping seasons. Combined, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sent more SMS messages than the entire month of November 2019, with Black Friday accounting for 19% of all November SMS orders.

SMS is on the rise. Having a readily accessible marketing tool can help brands grow.

Own or Rent?

The Facebook-Apple feud may be a sign of things to come. Google recently announced that it would no longer sell ads based on cross-site browsing. These choices have real consequences for retailers. They can still compete with other brands and rely on others to manage their customer relationships, but they must prepare for the consequences.

Brands should focus on growing opt-in channels that can sync with paid search and social platforms in the remaining part of 2021. It is imperative to own the customer relationship and communicate with them in their preferred manner.

Who wouldn’t want to opt out of something they never agreed to?

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