Start Measuring Downstream Brand Metrics

Content Life Cycle

The Apple’s iOS 15 update rolled out on September 20, 2021 includes new privacy features which could significantly impact tools used by marketers/advertisers. The changes include Mail Privacy Protection which prevents senders from learning whether an email has been opened and hides IP addresses so senders can’t learn a user’s location or use it to build a profile on them…these are a couple of data points that marketers will lose access to (data leakage). With Apple’s privacy protection update, brand marketers must start depending on downstream metrics rather than the open rate — on clicks and conversions…more Do-It-Yourself metrics like polls in exchange for loyalty points. Marketers must start using zero-party data.

Zero-party data is defined as data that companies/brands explicitly receive from their audience as part of a clear value exchange. It is data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize [them]. Zero-party data is more valuable than first-party data such as search or browsing preferences. The old saying that “change is the only constant” is a well understood truth within the industry. Change might be the only constant, but audiences are the only source of the truth. Marketers rely on audience engagement to hit their goals. Yet few use direct audience insights as a source for measurement and KPIs. The more brands understand their audiences, the better they are positioned to create stability for the long run.

The problem for many brands is they have relied on someone else for customer data. Now, some platforms like Omnisend, have started talking to clients about pivoting email marketing to accommodate Apple’s latest changes. Their recommendations include cleaning up current email lists to remove unresponsive contacts and start performance testing to better “navigate in a world void of opens.” Others are recommending clients focus on stepping up their own first-party data and prioritize opt-in messaging where users can choose if they’d like to receive email communication from advertisers, and personalize messages so users are more likely to interact. Rather than looking at privacy features from the perspective of loss of individual data, businesses marketers might view this as an opportunity to be more creative and use contextual approaches to engage with the right consumers to drive consent.

More than ever, people are aware of the value of their own data. In a 2021 Merkle survey*, 76% noted that they would be willing to fill out a short survey in order to get a better online experience. Taking a page from retail, personalization is proven to lift sales. Thrive Market, an online grocery store, weaves data collection into their entire online experience, using quiz elements to guide shoppers and then shape the content and offers they get in return. So start using zero-party data where everything is a polling question: ‘What do you typically shop for? Or other demographic information and the brand is giving the client loyalty points in return, so there’s an exchange of value happening here. They’re learning about you in a clear way and giving you an easy way to engage with the brand you’re interested in. Merkle’s second edition of the Consumer Experience Sentiment Report set out to answer these questions and uncover how marketers can keep the pace as demands evolve. Report highlights include:

  • 48% increased the amount they spent shopping online this year compared to the same time last year.
  • 88% view a brand’s products as having higher quality if they feel like the brand is listening to their needs.
  • Only 23% oppose sharing personal information, regardless of benefit. Once you have the data, the question is: How do you use it?

Three takeaways from iOS 15 for email marketers:

  • Focus on down-funnel metrics — that’s what it really comes down to and it’s the truest indicator of engagement.
  • Invest in zero and first-party data assets. True personalization is what people experience and what they see. 
  • Email is a great channel to engage your customers, because it’s a mature one that’s been invested in. Email is an awesome channel for building a one-to-one relationship with your customer, and far more. Look for that balance of privacy and personalization.

*Merkle (merkleinc.com) survey whitepaper “2021 Consumer Experience Sentiment Report”— How do consumers feel about personalization and their privacy? And how did the events of 2020 change their behaviors and expectations for experiences with brands?

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Copyright ©John Trenary 2021

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