Apple iOS 14 Updates: Are Your Enrollment and Donor Marketing Strategies Ready?

Hayley WarackVP, Digital Strategy & InnovationFebruary 3, 2021

I joined my colleague Brian Gawor for an episode of RNL@Home to discuss how privacy changes in iOS 14 will impact digital marketing for enrollment and fundraising.

Apple has announced changes with iOS 14 that will impact how we receive and process user data and conversion events from digital advertising platforms like Facebook (here’s my previous blog on the subject). In early spring 2021, Apple will begin to require that all apps in the App Store enable a prompt that allows users to opt out of being tracked (in accordance with their AppTrackingTransparency framework). Apple’s policy will prohibit certain data collection and sharing unless people opt in via the prompt. If users opt out of being tracked on iOS 14 devices, we will have limitations with ad personalization and KPI reporting.

In response, platforms such as Facebook are working to educate marketers and developers on these changes so they can update their platforms. In return, RNL is also re-evaluating current implementation processes. It’s anticipated that when updating to comply with the new requirements, we likely will still see an impact to audience reach and measurement as more users choose to opt out of being tracked on their devices.

The ease of opting out is the major iOS 14 impact on higher education marketing
Requiring more users to opt in on iOS devices will have a major impact on your marketing.

The iOS 14 impact on higher education marketing creates a serious dilemma for both enrollment and fundraising. If more users block the sharing of data from their Apple devices, it will be harder for us to target audiences with relevant ads and measure success of our digital campaigns for prospective students, families, and donors.

While users could always opt out of sharing their data, it will be easier than ever for them to do so. Furthermore, given the increased sensitivity to data privacy, it’s likely that we will see an increase in users opting out. In response, some platforms like Facebook are making changes to their systems to best adhere and adapt to these new privacy requirements.

3 key ways RNL is helping our clients manage the iOS 14 impact on higher education marketing

Along those lines, RNL is also adapting our Demand Builder and Digital Boost solutions to accommodate the changes. We’re implementing three key strategies to ensure our prospective student and donor engagement campaigns continue to be effective—and can still provide the KPIs to prove it.

1. Developing more flexible strategies if more people opt out of tracking on Apple devices and especially apps

If a user opts out of being tracked, we will lose our ability to both target and measure. We are expecting to see the biggest impact to Facebook and Instagram. Our platform partners at Google and LinkedIn are expecting minimal impact based on how they leverage user data.

How RNL is adapting: With that in mind, as these changes roll out, we are assessing impact on reach and KPIs based on device, platform, and audience targeting strategy. We will dynamically shift efforts to focus on top performing strategies as needed. For Facebook and Instagram, we will be following their guidance on use of events to ensure our audience segmentation and conversion tracking.

2. Maximizing the digital reach of clients if it becomes harder to retarget audiences

Driving people back to your web site, lead generation page, or donation campaign page is one of the most important tactics in your arsenal. With users potentially opting out of being tracked on their iOS device, relying on pixel-based retargeting becomes challenging.

How RNL is adapting: Our platform partners at Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn have made a variety of recommendations to best address this issue. We are exploring broadening the URL segmentation often used for retargeting, focusing more contextual targeting, and looking at in-platform behavioral based retargeting such as post and page interactions. We are also focused on our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts to supplement lead generation with users exploring and engaging with university content.

3. Enhancing KPI reporting to address increased difficulty in measuring success and ROI

Pixel-based conversion tracking is typically the key strategy for measuring success and ROI from digital campaigns. With users potentially opting out of being tracked on their iOS device, relying on pixel-based conversion tracking may lead to gaps in truly understanding the iOS 14 impact on higher education marketing.

How RNL is adapting: For the past several years, we have been predicting a shift within user-privacy and less-reliance on pixel-based tracking. We continue to integrate more with campus partner CRMs for seamless visibility to inquiry sources, as well as funnel progression for a more complete picture of the user journey. We are also using attribution insights from tools like Google Analytics to understand omnichannel touch points, time lag, and path to conversion.

Questions about the iOS 14 advertising impact? Contact us.

The digital marketing industry is always evolving—this is just one more of evolution. At RNL, we are planning to adjust our solutions based on what we know now and will continue to adapt as needed.

If you have questions, please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to share what we know.

Domain Verification with Facebook Business Manager is also necessary, so make sure your domain is verified.

Every organization needs to complete verification of their domain(s) with Facebook ASAP. Facebook has made some intentional changes to their platform requirements to minimize impact based on Apple’s updates.

  • Domain verification is needed to associate ‘Events’ with your domain.
  • Events are often used for audience retargeting segments and conversion tracking.
  • Only eight Conversion Events can be prioritized within a domain, so following Facebook’s direction to verify your domain and share your domain with any agency partners is crucial.
  • Facebook will also be rolling out platform updates that allow Business Manager Admins to pick the eight events you want to prioritize.

How we will adapt together: If you are an RNL campus partner, we will be communicating specific direction on how to verify your domain, as well as share your domain with a partner like RNL. Once Facebook announces next steps with Event prioritization, RNL will communicate added steps from there. We do anticipate our campus partners may need to work with other groups across their institution for both the domain verification process as well as event prioritization. If you need help or more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your RNL representative.

RNL is adapting to maximize your donor and prospective student data flow

Apple is planning to make many changes without much consultation or communication with the marketing industry, so we do not know all the details about the iOS 14 impact on higher education marketing. There are likely additional unknowns, and many platforms are waiting to act until we they more.

Please do not worry—we are on it.

We’re watching the changes daily and we’ll be in touch with RNL partners to adapt quickly. Keeping on top of these constantly shifting technologies and privacy concerns is a big part of the value of working with a provider who manages communications with hundreds of institutions. Reach out to your RNL team member, or contact us today to find out more and learn how RNL digital solutions can help you meet your goals with high ROI.

About the Author

Hayley Warack is an expert in creating dynamic advertising strategies and integrating engaging storytelling and content in digital strategies. Hayley has been in the digital marketing world for over 10 years, with the last five years...

Read more about Hayley's experience and expertise

Reach Hayley by e-mail at Hayley.Warack@ruffalonl.com.

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