If you currently use Facebook and Google Ads, there are a few things you can do to prepare for these changes. This could also be a great excuse to take a step back and reassess your marketing strategies. Below we’ve put together some useful info and advice to get you started, including some awesome tips from industry leaders Chris Torres, Director of Tourism Marketing Agency and Marica Mackenroth Brewster, CEO of Von Mack Agency.
Take a look below to get prepared and find out the best strategy for your business.
Peek Pro’s booking flow integrates with Facebook ads using pixel tracking. For more info on this feature, check out this Helpdesk article. Not on Peek Pro? Use this link to book time with a member of our team to run you through what this would look like for your business.
What do these changes mean?
Currently, when you click on a Facebook advert for shoes you’ll be sent to the shoe shop’s website to make a purchase. If the shoe shop is using the Facebook Pixel, Facebook is able to track what you do on their website, how long you spend on the site, whether you make a purchase, what items you purchase, etc. Facebook then uses that information to measure the success of the advert and to categorize you as a consumer – did you buy any shoes? If you did, are you an Oxford or Brogues kinda person?
Apple’s new restriction will block Facebook from tracking some consumer behavior once the consumer leaves Facebook’s site; so they won’t always be able to know whether an advert caused them to make a purchase or what kind of products they’re interested in.This reduction in data will impact the breadth of targeting and reporting that was previously available with Facebook Ads Manager.
The good news:
Facebook has been super proactive about this new policy and has introduced a new system to help you track the progress of your ads post iOS14.5. You will still be able to track up to 8 events that occur on your website. Jump to section 4 for instructions on setting up the new system.
Top Tip: Check how many of your customers currently book on iPhones
To get a clearer idea of how much this will specifically impact your business, take a look at your website traffic in your Google Analytics account. This update will only be available for consumers using an iPhone, so make note of how many iPhone users are viewing your site and how many purchases are being made using iPhones.
To check this out go to your Google Analytics account, and click Audience > Mobile > Device. You can filter for Apple Mobile devices and see the % of your total traffic they represent.
How will this impact my Facebook or Google Ad campaigns?
Now that iOS 14.5 is live, Facebook and Google will likely have access to a lot less data than before, which will mean they will less effectively be able to produce:
1. Ads measured by Conversion Data
If you run Facebook Ads or Google Ads that are measured by events that occur on your website, such as purchases or registration sign-ups, you are likely to see a reduction in the data you have to measure these Ad campaigns. When this happens these campaigns may be paused and stop working.
2. Retargeting Audiences
This change will also likely affect your ability to create targeted audiences. Previously, Facebook was able to identify which customers are likely to be interested in your products based on their previous purchase history. Facebook will still be able to do this, but they will probably have a lot less data without Apple iOS users, so these lists are likely to be smaller.
3. Ad Optimization
Currently Facebook optimizes the design and placement of your Ads based on their performance and on data from other campaigns. When the update is released Facebook will have less data to inform these decisions which may impact the effectiveness of this method.
What if I don’t use Facebook ads?
If you don’t use Facebook ads but you do use Google Analytics, you are still likely to see some effect from the iOS 14.5 update. As far as we know this shouldn’t have a massive impact on your tracking, but given that iPhone users will have the option to opt out of some tracking you are likely to see a general decrease in the data that feeds into your Google Analytics.
Take a look at the last section of this blog for some effective marketing practices you can employ that don’t rely on consumer tracking data.
How should I prepare if I do use Facebook Ads?
We asked some marketing experts in the tours and activities space to share some advice on how to prepare for this update. Here’s a rundown of how to make necessary changes in your account as well as their top tips:
1. Verify your domain with Facebook
This is a pretty simple step. Just head to Brand Safety > Domains in the Business Manager section of your Facebook Ad account. Facebook has a detailed helpdesk article and video explaining the exact steps, which can be done by you or your webmaster. Check out the instructions here.
Why should I verify my domain?
Verifying your domain gives you ownership of your website and allows you to authorize Facebook to track events that occur on your website. Without it Facebook won’t be able to track the 8 events mentioned below.
2. Select up to 8 conversion events for Facebook to track on your website
Once the update is rolled out, your facebook Pixel will only be able to track up to 8 conversion events that occur on your website.
Have a look at your current campaigns and website activity, figure out which events best measure the success of your Ad campaigns, confirm whether these are the only events that can be used for remarketing and select those. You can do this in the Events Manager section of your Facebook Ad Manager account.
Follow Facebook’s step-by-step guide to selecting your 8 conversion events.
Things to note:
- When the update is released any impacted ad campaigns may be paused for up to 72 hours while Facebook configures that necessary changes. Any ad campaigns optimizing for events outside of your chosen 8, will be paused.
- These 8 events must occur on your website or on a verified domain, in order for them to be tracked. This means that if you use a booking software and your customers purchase your products through a widget (i.e. they will leave your website), you will not be able to use one of these 8 events to track what your customer does after clicking the purchase button on your website.
- You will still be able to track more than 8 events that occur on your website, the limit of 8 only applies to the events you can use to set-up conversion-driven ad campaigns.
What do the experts suggest?
Chris Torres, from Tourism Marketing Agency says “First, don’t panic. Although these changes mean you will gather less data, it does allow you to refocus what to track and what is important for your business.
You can only track 8 events, and these events are in order of priority, top being the highest, the bottom being the lowest.
Think of the lowest priority item as the top funnel, like viewing your website or a specific landing page that you may be running for a campaign. That page may have a newsletter sign-up that allows you to capture the customer’s details. This would be classed as ‘Complete Registration’ or ‘subscribed’.
The next step for that customer may be to view a product/tour page and be inspired to click ‘enquire’ or ‘book’ – this can fall under ‘Initiate Checkout’. If that customer submitted a form or booked a product, this would be classed as either a ‘Lead’ or ‘Purchase’.
You can have multiple pages classed as any of these events, but Facebook will report this back as one set of figures. So for example, if you have an event set as ‘view content’ for your home page, as well as all your product pages, then all the views would be combined. This is where Google Analytics will become even more important in tracking users behavioral flows.”
3. Measure your Ad campaigns using events other than conversions
Marica Mackenroth Brewster, from Von Mack Agency, says “Optimize your campaign strategies to be measured by clicks, click outs to your online booking system, or views instead of ecommerce conversions.
This is where targeting in destination is key, and as we know, it’s been historically recommended to test feeder market vs hyper local anyway. If you know your market’s behavior while in town, you can serve ads to travelers locally while using a super limited, perhaps 3 day max, booking window.
Your retargeting campaigns will likely change in messaging and in tone, as you will not have data from Facebook regarding booking confirmations or who abandoned at any given place along a check out funnel. So no FB auto optimization there. You will have to manually review the inbound clicks from Facebook UTM codes in your Google Analytics to get a sense for behavior.”
4. Tag your Facebook Ads to make sure they show up in your Google Analytics
UTMs (Urchin Tracking Modules) are tags you can add to the end of links to track more data in your Google Analytics, they help you learn more about your audiences and your marketing campaign performance.
How to add tags to your Facebook Ads:
- Select your Facebook ad campaign
- Head to the Page and Links section in your Facebook Ad Manager account. Select the campaign you would like to create a tag for and click Show Advanced Options.
- Fill out the website URL
- This will be the exact page consumers are sent to if they click on the ad
- Fill out your Display Link
- The tracking UTM adds lots of extra text to your website link which looks messy and confusing to consumers. Using a display link allows you to hide all this from the consumer. Most users make this their homepage.
- Add in the URL parameters
- This is where you add in text that will be strung behind the URL, this text will tell your Google Analytics which advert the consumer has clicked on. Remember the more info you add to your tag the more data you’ll have to work with in Google Analytics.
- Example of URL parameters:
Top Tip: Add UTM tags to all your marketing campaigns – not just your Facebook Ads.
Google Analytics has built out this tool to help you create URLs with UTMs.
Marica says “Your copywriting will also no longer be able to speak directly to people who fell out of your booking flow. It will now have to be more broad, and thus must pull from your brand’s unique selling proposition at a higher intensity level to convert. But if that USP is nailed down and golden, and you get super familiar with your Facebook UTM code traffic click paths, your approach will evolve to become much less of a numbers game anyway. And that’s the point of this. It’s about inherently understanding the strategy of creating mass movement for your brand.
For example, if you see in Google Analytics that your website traffic from Facebook UTM’s generally bounces out at a certain page, you need to make sure that whatever your ad is promising is not countered on that page. Maybe even check that page for mobile functionality. Get really used to next-level sorting that traffic by device, booking conversion window, even by gender. This is the data discovery you’ll need to continue optimizing your campaigns on Facebook.”
5. Tracking your Facebook Campaigns in Google Analytics
Now you’ve added detailed UTM tags to each of your Ad campaigns, you can easily track their performance in Google Analytics.
- Go to the Acquisitions section
- Select the All Traffic dropdown
- Click on Source/Medium
- Choose the parameter you would like to track by selecting the Other dropdown and choosing the Acquisition group you would like to look at
You can adjust the Primary Dimension to assess the performance of your ads on the campaign level, ad set level and individual ad level.
If you used Google Analytics’ UTM builder to set your parameters, you can use the following primary dimensions to break down your tracking:
- Campaign: this will allow you to track your Facebook Ads Campaign performance
- Keyword: use this to deep dive into your ad set performance
- Ad Content: this will allow you to analyze individual ad performance
It’s important to track your marketing campaign performance in Google Analytics, so you can adapt and optimize them to more effectively achieve your goals.
For more info on how to use Google Analytics check out their YouTube channel. They’ve created a bunch of bitesized videos that break down all their tools and help you create effective reports to inform sound business decisions.
What else can I do to prepare for iOS 14.5?
Focus on marketing campaigns that don’t rely on consumer tracking.
So far we’ve only talked about how you can prepare your Facebook Ads for this update. Another way to combat this imminent reduction in customer data is to pivot your marketing strategy and focus more on projects that don’t rely on consumer tracking.
Marketing solutions that won’t be affected by the iOS 14.5 update:
1. Boost direct traffic to your website
Increasing your backlinks signals to Google that your website belongs to a legitimate company. The more Google trusts your company is real the better ranking and visibility you’ll get in google searches.
What is a backlink? A backlink is when your website URL appears on a third party website, e.g. when a company links to your website in a blog.
How can I get backlinks?
- Offer to write guest blogs on popular sites and publications
- Add your website to all your social media profiles
- Get your company listed on local DMO and association websites
- Find blogs that appears high on relevant Google searches and develop your own take on the same topic
Check out your website on the Google Search Console to see how many backlinks you already have and keep track of how many new backlinks you get.
Good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial for driving consistent traffic to your website. It’s all about stuffing your website content with the kind of buzzwords that your target audience are most likely to search. When you research keywords look out for the ones that have the most search volume but that are used the least on other sites.
How do I figure out which keywords to include?
- Make a list of the words customers are most likely to search if they’re interested in doing a tour or activity in your local area
- Use keyword research tools such as Keyword tool to narrow down your search and locate the words with the highest search volume
Where should I include these keywords?
- Website URL
- Website titles & headings
- General content like activity pages, FAQs and blogs
Be sure to publish new content regularly and keep it genuinely engaging. For some extra tips on effective blog writing, check out this blog.
c) Brand awareness
Review, reviews, reviews! Reviews are the most powerful content for driving tour & activity bookings. Make sure you’re taking every opportunity to collect review content from your customers and that that content is feeding to sites such as TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp.
How can I boost my review content?
- Use Peek Pro’s SmartReviews+ feature to capture reviews from every single customer and populate the world’s biggest review sites with the best ones. Find out more about this feature in this helpdesk article.
- Make sure your reviews are visible on your website. Peek Pro’s Reviews widget will automatically feed positive reviews onto your site. And you’ll get the added benefit of displaying your star ratings and reviews count in your Google search results.
- Create a Facebook fan page about your company. You can allow customers to write reviews on your fan page so that others searching see social proof wherever they go.
- Ask customers to share their experience on social media and tag your company in their posts.
2. Invest in your marketing emails
Did you know? Email marketing is still the #1 source of bookings for many companies. Emails are a great way to re-engage past customers and draw in new ones.
Top Tip: Use Peek Pro’s Zapier integration with your marketing software to leverage customer data and give your emails a personal touch.
Email marketing campaign ideas for tour & activity operators:
- Launch a weekly newsletter filled with customer testimonials, exciting pictures and new updates
- Feature your staff, interview each of your employees and help your customers relate to your company on a more human level
- Catch the anniversaries: depending on your repeat buying cycle reach out to past customers just before they are most likely to make a second purchase and remind them of the incredible time they had before!
3. Boost your social media presence
With even most of our grandparents on Facebook these days no one can deny that social media is having its heyday. Here’s a few ideas to get your followers up and your likes rolling in:
- Launch competitions that involve following your accounts and engaging with your content
- Host Instagram and Facebook ‘Lives’ – show your customers what goes on behind the scenes and let them get to know you as individuals
- Collaborate with local influencers and get them to document them loving your experiences
4. Optimize your ‘Google my Business’ account
Optimizing your ‘Google My Business’ account is a great way to boost your google search rankings and drive more direct traffic to your website.
Check out how tour operators Namaste in Nature and French Quarter Phantoms leverage GMB by making the most of their promotion tools in this blog: Google My Business: 10 Key Optimizations for Tour and Activity Operators.
Top Tip: Add a post-purchase survey / custom question at the end of your booking flow to ask customers how they found your website
Post-purchase surveys are a great way to capture data and feedback from your customers without relying on automated tracking. You’ll be able to see which marketing channels are most fruitful for your business which will help you more effectively allocate your marketing spend.
In Peek Pro you can easily add a custom question at the end of your booking flow to capture this information; find out more in this Helpdesk article.
Peek is monitoring these changes very closely and wants to stay close to the feedback that operators have to inform future marketing enablement features. If you have any feature requests or questions regarding this update and its impact on you as a Peek operator, please reach out to our partner support team.
Director, Tourism Marketing Agency
Chris is an author, podcaster, and brand & digital tourism expert with over 26 years’ industry experience. Chris speaks at many tourism events worldwide, offering his advice and guidance on how travel, tourism, and destination businesses can gain brand recognition and increase bookings. Chris has focused his business, the Tourism Marketing Agency, on tour operator marketing and works with some of the biggest players in the industry.
Marica Mackenroth Brewster
CEO, Von Mack Agency
Marica Mackenroth Brewster is an award-winning marketer who helps tourism businesses grow. As founder and CEO of The Von Mack Agency, her nearly two decades of experience is put to work leading tour companies, attractions, CVB’s, hospitality entities, and motorcoach companies to success, before and most especially throughout this time of COVID.