The new Apple iOS 15 update is just around the corner - September 15th is the expected release date – and you’ve probably read a dozen articles about it so far, but I wanted to give you one more point of view, with some practical tips on how to make the most of the changes it will bring.
And if you have an opinion you want to share, or a question, please add it to the comments. We have a range of experienced digital marketers on hand to reply.
Who is really affected?
But first, let’s look at the scope of this update.
It’s important to keep in mind that mobile devices are not the same as mobile email clients. The email privacy updates in this release will only affect Apple Mail users. And while iPhones do dominate the US market with over 50% market share, globally this falls to below 30%. If you take out all the other email clients installed on iPhones, which are not touched by these updates, you may find that only around 10-15% of your database is affected.
Whatever the percentage, we can likely assume that most, if not all, Apple Mail users will opt in for increased security, since the choice is expressed in terms of ‘Protect mail activity’ and ‘Don’t protect mail activity’.
The choices offered by Apple
More to the point, when Apple released its App Tracking Transparency feature with iOS14, 96% of users chose to opt out of the tracking.
So before you make any decisions, check your database for Apple Mail users and see how many you have, then take action accordingly.
No problems, only opportunities
I'm not a developer, but I've been working alongside them for over 20 years, and they have taught me a lot. One of the lessons I have taken to heart is that old cliché 'there are no problems in software development, only opportunities'.
Here are some opportunities that this release will open up for you.
1. Stop basing decisions on email open rates
Email open rates have always been a bit hit and miss – they won’t register if a customer reads the email in the preview pane, and now Apple returns false positives for every email delivered. So ignore them and focus on real engagement metrics that cannot be faked: clicks, page views and of course purchases.
Our tip: If you have any segments based on Opens or Opens or clicks, now is the time to change them.
2. Pay more attention to your segments
Even though some valuable user data is now being kept back, you are still getting something in return.
Geo-location - Users who have chosen to hide their IP addresses will always come up as America/Chicago for their location. Sure, you can’t make any decisions based on that data field, but you do know that you have not yet earned these customers’ full trust.
Hidden email addresses – Users who choose to hide their email will be given a random email address ending in @privaterelay.appleid.com. These random addresses will forward your messages to the true address (unless the user deactivates this feature) but again, this is a clear sign that you have not yet earned their trust.
Our tip: Use these fields to segment such contacts and engage them with targeted campaigns designed to encourage them to give you their real data.
3. Raise your privacy game
If your customers don’t share their data with you, it’s because they don’t trust you. And if they don’t trust you, you have a problem.
Our tip: Anything you do that gives customers peace of mind that their data is safe in your hands is worth the investment - it will bring dividends.
4. Increase your channels
We’re only talking about email here, people! Not SMS, not your website, not your mobile app, not social media. Email may be the biggest and cheapest channel and the bedrock of most marketing activity, but the future is omnichannel.
Our tip: Take a good look at your customer journey and choose the right channel for each interaction. Ask your customers up front which channels they prefer and respect those choices.
5. Make your content matter
Now that you can no longer follow your customers around the web, you must lead them. That means giving them a reason to visit your shop, or to register, or to read your messages. E-commerce has exploded since lockdowns became the norm, and competition has never been fiercer, so if you don't stand out from the crowd, you'll disappear.
Our tip: Make sure your content is both personal and relevant to them (and that includes the channel you choose to send it on). Consumers now know that their data is valuable, so give them something valuable in return.
And that's it for me - please add your two cents if you have them, and good luck!