How Apple and Google are Creating a New Era for Digital Customer Acquisition


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It won’t shock anyone reading this when I say that Apple and Google are big players in the technology game, in fact it’s a fairly redundant sentence. But to give some context, if it were needed, Apple has 1.65bn active devices worldwide and Google handles 3.5bn daily searches, with Chrome accounting for 60% of global browser users. So when both brands make moves to protect their users’ privacy, the world should sit up and take notice.

Apple recently rolled out iOS 14.5, with a new feature called App Tracking Transparency (ATT) which gives Apple device users the option of opting out of apps tracking their activity. Alongside Google’s announcement that the new version of Chrome will stop using third-party cookies to track activity, it seems like 2021 is the year that Big Tech is starting to get to grips with concerns over user data privacy.

Why are Google and Apple Getting Serious on Privacy?

Google’s explanation is that there’s a lack of trust in the internet – 72% of people think everything they do online is tracked by advertisers, 81% believe the risks outweigh the benefits of all this data collection. The tech giant has said they are not meeting consumers’ privacy expectations and want to address any future regulatory restrictions.

For Apple, it’s a similar story. They have said that, prior to the update, users had no choice but to have “thousands of pieces of information” collected that created a digital profile, which is sold to others. In their release video, they addressed the issue:

Maybe you are ok giving an app your email or location so they can share your data with others to give you personalised ads or build a profile about you – and if you’re not, well, that is what this prompt is for. Whatever you choose, it’s up to you.

Apple allows users to opt-out of apps tracking their activity

They are giving control back to their users. The iOS update hasn’t been well-received by Facebook. While it won’t hit Apple too hard in terms of revenue, Facebook’s business model is based on selling advertising, powered by the wealth of data they are able to collect from their 2.8bn monthly active users, data that Apple users can decide to opt-out of sharing. That’s a lot of potential customers who Facebook advertisers could find it difficult to engage. The tech giant is arguing it could cripple small businesses, struggling following a tough 12 months. News of Apple’s new update left Facebook suggesting that their Audience Network advertising platform may be so ineffective that it’s not worth offering on iOS 14.5.

What Does This Mean for Digital Marketing?

Beyond the immediate fallout, I believe Apple and Google’s moves to protect its users’ privacy means we are about to see a new trend in customer acquisition. With the ability to track activity across apps, browsers and services, mass-marketing to customers or part-personalized advertising, like we are all used to on social networks, has been the bedrock of digital marketing for the past decade.

With this source of data about to become far less effective, I believe we’re about to see an era of customer acquisition where brands place emphasis on building 1:1 relationships with consumers from the very first interaction and throughout their lifecycle. In Conversocial’s State of CX Trends 2021, we found private messaging conversation volume has grown by 87%, and that 81% of people now expect brands to offer customer engagement over messaging channels. Not only are big tech companies changing how brands are able to target their customers, consumers expect a better experience if they’re going to be loyal brand advocates.

Private messaging channels offer this opportunity – they power two-way conversational experiences that give a far more personalized form of engagement. The ‘entry points’ for customers may not be ‘traditional’, compared to the past 10 years, but can be a far more effective tool for high conversion rates and customer satisfaction throughout their journey.

How can Marketers use Messaging Channels as Performance Marketing Channels?

If we take Google’s Business Messaging (GBM) as an example; with Chrome’s impending update, no cookie tracking means brands won’t know exactly where people are spending their time online. However, Google web searches tell them exactly what customers want. Offering consumers the chance for immediate interactions with their brand or to view their products via GBM is a very strong initial experience for a customer, one that can ensure a long-lasting and loyal relationship.

Google Business Messages allows brands to capture customers at the earliest point of their buyer journey

Also, Apple’s update also doesn’t render Facebook’s advertising infrastructure completely ineffective, it will just mean that every click becomes more important and the initial experience must be optimized. Click-to-Messenger adverts can be set up with bespoke automated flows that take customers through a sign-up or purchase process and keeps the entire customer relationship within a private messaging channel. rather than relying on app downloads or directing to a website, Messenger creates immediate interactions and the chance to re-engage.

I truly believe we are entering a new era that will work better for brands and consumers. Privacy concerns are being taken seriously, but at the same time, it can be a game-changing opportunity for businesses to adapt their approach to customer acquisition. There are plenty of ways that the power of private messaging can be harnessed to turn these channels into high converting marketing powerhouses, the shift can bring exceptional conversational experiences at the beginning of the consumer/brand relationship – building loyalty, increasing CLV and turning consumers into champions of their favorite brands.

Steve Davies
I'm a former journalist, turned marketing and comms manager, via a brief stint running a street food business.


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