Fall is a season beloved by many; from the approach of the holiday season to changes in the weather, nearly everyone has a reason for looking forward to September. For those of us in tech, though, it’s exciting for a different reason, and a very specific one at that: the annual Apple iPhone and iOS launch.
I, admittedly, have an added personal interest in what’s going on in the tech world. As a Chief Product Officer, I know how quickly products need to evolve in order to meet consumer needs, and I’m always eager to see how we can do that at Community. With such a staggeringly high percentage of the world’s mobile users loyally allied to Apple’s iOS, operating system updates often dictate changes in the apps and software we use most. In particular, the increasing focus on user privacy is a huge factor in how we conceptualize, design, and market our products and overall customer experience. With Apple picking up on this, the tech world often moves in lockstep with Apple’s decisions to deliver the best product and user experiences possible.
Going beyond just product and UX, though, is the ever-evolving conversation of what new iOS updates mean for marketers. Our smartphones are ultimately devices that have a huge hold on our purchasing power, so it’s natural that new updates and features put forth by companies like Apple dictate new marketing trends. And, as our phones have gotten smarter, so have their privacy settings, working to weed out what it is that customers want to read, watch, look at, and listen to — and what they don’t. In the last few years, there’s been an interesting shift from the initial breathless excitement of the mobile tech boom, to a new type of caution and cynicism. In other words: now that we know everything our devices are capable of, we’re all too aware of the data and privacy concerns that might come with them. It’s why the move towards an emphasis on strict privacy seen in iOS 15 is a big win for users, but something that marketers need to pay attention to.
"In the last few years, there’s been an interesting shift from the initial breathless excitement of the mobile tech boom, to a new type of caution and cynicism."
There are a few key changes which might seem innocuous and may even be barely noticeable to the average user — but will undoubtedly change how marketers most effectively target their users, and email marketers in particular. To break it down, here’s what the new iOS is introducing that marketers need to be aware of:
- Mail Privacy Protection: A free feature that allows users to opt in to masking their IP address — which, in turn, blocks third parties from tracking email open rates (fun fact: Apple is actually doing this by blocking tracking pixels, which, from a development perspective, is pretty smart and cool).
- iCloud+: A premium iCloud subscription that allows users to opt in to preventing Safari sites from tracking their data, location, etc (sort of like a VPN). Users can also see which sites they’re sending what information to.
- Hide My Email: An email address-cloaking feature that allows the user to give sites an aliased email address, sending all promotional emails to a different inbox and removing brands’ access to the user’s real address (unless they choose to share it).
When thinking through a solution for how to best handle these changes from a marketing perspective, it’s important to consider the why; that is, why did Apple implement these changes in the first place?
The clear answer is that Apple, like any good company, listens to its users, and implements their feedback to engineer a better product. And what users are saying is that privacy matters – and that means the savvy marketer needs to be sensitive to privacy, too.
"..what users are saying is that privacy matters – and that means the savvy marketer needs to be sensitive to privacy, too. "
In this way, I’m hoping that these changes, which clearly mark a new stage in the trend towards a greater emphasis on user privacy, are permanent, and lead to a shift in how we interact directly with the brands we find most interesting. Given trends over the last few years — from the rise of branded social content, to the rise of user-generated content — it’s clear that customers have become more and more interested in building genuine, personal relationships with the brands they love. At Community we are building personalized communication tools that build these relationships while also respecting the user’s privacy. Messaging, by nature, fosters a 1-to-1 conversation that isn’t impacted by the privacy flaws marketers have come to rely on with email. The move to messaging is the main thinking behind what we do at Community. Many of our clients have spent years building their relationships with customers, consumers, fans, and followers — and we’re proud to be the link that connects them.
Not only is the communication style you get from SMS marketing more genuine, more personal, and more conversational, it also is much more effective. Many email marketers see their open rates at 20% at best, which is significantly lower than the 95% open rate we see at Community. But what’s most important to me are the stories I hear about people forging those one-to-one connections and relationships, and how valuable those real-time conversations are, both to our customers, and to the people they’re texting. It’s truly something that isn’t possible on other marketing channels, and it’s a movement I’m proud to see Community at the forefront of.
Talk to us about how you can build, engage, and connect with your audience using Community — whatever your goals are, we’d love to help. Get your Community number here.