What is Apple’s iOS 15 Update?
Apple has announced that iOS 15, the latest update to the iOS operating system, will be available in Fall 2021. And as expected, the privacy changes introduced have caused a lot of concerns for marketers everywhere.
Apple has been leading the charge as an advocate for privacy, with Google and Facebook following close behind. This recent barrage of privacy changes from these major platforms continues to disrupt the digital marketing industry.
Although many of these changes reduce the capabilities of digital marketers, they must be seen as what they truly are—a win for consumers and an opportunity for savvy marketers to step up to the challenge.
Apple’s iOS 15 update will have noticeable impacts on marketing performance and tracking abilities, giving a competitive edge to marketers who know how to pivot.
Important Changes In iOS 15
The iOS 15 update includes many outstanding features for consumers—FaceTime while watching movies, Portrait Mode for video, status notifications for iMessage and the ability to capture text from signs in real life, to name a few.
But it continues to push the envelope of privacy protection for consumers with three key additions: Mail Privacy Protection, Private Relay, and Hide My Email.
Mail Privacy Protection
Mail Privacy Protection is a new feature that “hides your IP address, so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location. And it prevents senders from seeing if and when you’ve opened their email.”
In other words, say goodbye to open tracking for your emails. It may surprise you to learn that Apple’s iPhone is the top email client with 37.7% of the market share. As a result, the Mail Privacy Protection will have a significant impact on your email marketing analytics.
Clicks and click-tracking won’t be affected, so you will still be able to measure engagement from your emails, but open rates will be unreliable.
And this feature is not enabled by default, and users must opt-in, but it’s safe to assume that most users will choose to do so.
A new feature for iCloud+ subscribers only, Private Relay is like a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in that it encrypts traffic from a user’s device whenever they’re browsing the internet.
This encryption will prohibit the collection of third-party data, which means further limitations on the accessibility of valuable data for marketers. However, this feature requires a paid iCloud+ subscription, and it only works with Safari—not other browsers like Chrome or other apps.
Hide My Email
A user’s email address is really valuable. It’s common to use emails to correlate a user’s identity and behavior, extract information (such as a company identity from an email domain), or use it for data enrichment purposes.
If you’ve ever used one of those free services to create a temporary email address, Apple’s new Hide My Email feature will sound familiar. This iCloud+ feature “lets users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private.”
It’s Apple’s built-in way to protect users from sharing their actual email address by creating and using a proxy email address that will forward email messages to them. When a user uses Hide My Email, you’ll get a randomly generated proxy email instead of the user’s actual email address.
There have already been services like this for a while, but now Apple is making these features far more accessible to the general public.
Product Page Optimization
In addition to the privacy changes, Apple made a huge (and long-awaited) announcement at WWDC 2021 by introducing the Product Page Optimization tool. The new tool will allow split-testing different variations of app assets on the product page, including icons, screenshots, and more.
For those marketers focused on App Store Optimization (ASO), this is an exciting, promising, and long-overdue addition to the Apple App Store.
In addition, Apple is adding the ability to use unique URLs to send users to different variations of product pages, allowing for more customized customer journeys, segmentation, and testing.
How Apple’s iOS 15 Update Will Impact Marketers
Indeed, these privacy changes will impact the ability of marketers to track and measure marketing performance. But is that actually a negative?
For too long, marketers have relied on outdated and unhelpful metrics without being pushed to modernize their approach. If iOS 15 is a catalyst to help marketers be more thoughtful about engaging with customers and measuring performance, that’s progress.
Privacy changes are here to stay and will continue to be adopted by the other dominant platforms. There is no going back. Marketers must embrace these changes and pivot quickly to keep on track and outmaneuver the competition.
What Marketers Should Do To Prepare For iOS 15
Apple’s iOS 15 is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for marketers to adapt to the new age, innovate, and prove themselves. When you create remarkable marketing – and when customers know, like, and trust you – these privacy challenges aren’t that disruptive at all.
And if any of these changes will significantly damper your marketing performance, then it’s time for a new approach. Recognize this as an opportunity to approach your marketing with a renewed perspective that puts the customer first. Instead of starting from tracking and analytics, focus on creating trust and a relationship with your users.
To capitalize on the full potential of email as a channel, the changes coming with iOS 15 will require you to stick to email marketing best practices. You’ll need to segment ruthlessly, measure engagement instead of relying on open rates, and constantly improve your subject line quality.
And if you have an app in the Apple App Store, prepare to perform split-testing. Review your customer journey and identify the segments and assets you need to start split-testing as soon as the functionality becomes available.
After all, we’re still in the early days of privacy advocacy in digital marketing. There are certainly more privacy changes to come. Access to third-party data and tracking user behavior will become more complicated and limited.
Instead of worrying about the impacts of these changes, why not start thinking about how you can become indispensable to your customers?
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels