Last updated on December 18, 2023

Jeanie Dunn
Content Manager, SMS @ Yotpo
September 20th, 2021 | 8 minutes read

iOS 15 is here. Meet its privacy challenges head on with SMS marketing.

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We are moving toward an opt-in world, where consumers are in control and their privacy is always put first. With the new iOS 15 (released on September 20th), Apple has taken another step in the direction of this new reality with Mail Privacy Protection.

What does Mail Privacy Protection do? It gives all users of the iPhone’s Mail app the ability to activate advanced privacy features (like “Hide My Email”), while preventing marketers from using invisible pixels to collect information about user behavior. Consumers who activate Mail Privacy Protection will be more anonymous than ever, which presents new challenges for marketers, specifically in regard to one of the primary revenue drivers for brands: email.

Marketers can say goodbye to:

  • Trustworthy open rates —  With iOS 15, Apple stops senders from knowing when a user opens an email, making it difficult for brands to track open rates correctly.
  • Effective geotargeting — iOS 15 masks the IP address of users, preventing brands from knowing their location and tracing their online activity.
  • Email address visibility — iOS 15 users who choose to hide their email are given a randomized alias from Apple, keeping their personal email addresses private and unavailable to brands.

These changes make it clear that Apple’s effort to protect customer privacy will have a significant impact. eCommerce brands will need to rethink everything about email marketing moving forward, from metrics and subject line optimization to data collection and retargeting. We have no doubt that they will adapt, but the solution to these privacy challenges is not solely new email strategies and workarounds. The solution is SMS marketing.

Between 30-50% of a brand’s email list uses Apple Mail and Apple devices. This iOS audience is a mobile audience, meaning that 30-50% of your list is mobile-first. SMS marketing is already adapted to the mobile-first, customer-first, privacy-first reality of Apple’s making, so it is the perfect way for brands to continue to learn about — and effectively engage — mobile consumers as privacy policies tighten.

Here are six ways your brand can use SMS to succeed with iOS 15.

Expand and diversify your marketing

Instead of relying on one strategy to engage consumers, brands need to double down on diversifying their channels to ensure maximum reach. iOS users are mobile-first, and mobile is their preferred communication channel. SMS marketing, then, is a natural fit to communicate with your mobile audience in new and more effective ways.

SMS helps us expand and diversify our marketing efforts. With the recent iOS changes, leaning more into your own channels is what marketers need to do now. We’re so glad we have SMS as a channel to navigate these changes. — Tyler Prone, Director of Growth Marketing, Parks Project

Get real-time, reliable results

While email marketers will need to re-think necessary metrics and optimization tactics with iOS 15, SMS marketing is already set up for successful, live performance monitoring. SMS has always been focused on clicks and conversions (open rates for SMS already soar at 98%), providing you with the actionable data you need to know exactly which parts of your strategy work and where you can optimize.

So if you are worried about those unreliable email open rates, don’t be. There is much more reliable data at your disposal with SMS — conversion rates in particular have increased by more than 100% over the last year.

Provide more value to collect more subscribers

Now that iOS 15 has been released, users will no longer share their data by default — they will want something in exchange. Brands will need to provide more value to convince customers to opt in, and SMS provides the most for mobile consumers. What can you offer them with SMS? Our research shows that consumers are attracted to both short-term and long-term incentives, from one-time discounts (like 15% off or free shipping) to early access to new releases and direct, 1:1 communication with brands.

You might find yourself collecting less email subscribers (and/or less true email addresses) with iOS 15, so it is critical that you are reaching consumers elsewhere. By incentivizing shoppers to opt in with perks like the above, your brand can attract subscribers easily, and subsequently collect more customer data than you’ve ever thought possible. 1:1 conversations via SMS are especially useful for establishing trust with subscribers, learning more about their needs, and building the long-term relationships marketers will come to rely on in the age of consumer privacy.

Lean on customer-first data to deliver personalized experiences

The more that consumers hide their information from brands, the more difficult it will become to track and target them. Fortunately, SMS marketing is powered by zero-party and first-party data. Not only can your brand easily collect information about your customer’s behavior and purchase history, but you also gain access to data that customers share willingly and proactively through interactive SMS experiences.

For example, when your brand welcomes a new SMS subscriber, you can ask them directly about their product preferences. The subscriber will reply with their interests, and your brand will instantly have the data you need to tailor future messaging. It’s that easy.

Take that customer-first data you collect and use it to create unique segments for improved customer targeting. Through segmentation, you are guaranteed to send the right message to the right customer at the right time — and relevant, personalized messages have a much higher chance of converting. In a world where targeting customers with personalized messages is even more challenging, channels like SMS that allow for this maximum tailoring and personalization will win.

Cut through the noise and drive a sense of urgency

Email subject lines have historically been used to drive a sense of urgency. But with subject line optimization and insights becoming limited, brands will need to find tangible ways to cut through the noise and inspire customers to act fast — and nothing catches a customer’s eye quite like a text message. In fact, 58% of consumers say they would sign up for SMS in addition to emails because they want to know immediately about promotions, offers, and updates.

SMS is designed to deliver information immediately where it is most convenient for mobile consumers (their phones). And the fact that most text messages are read within 3 minutes makes it especially effective for your brand’s shorter, time sensitive campaigns. With the right copy (“Hurry, this deal won’t last!”), you can motivate a shopper to take action in seconds.

Limit the impact of customer privacy now, and in the future

SMS marketing, by its very nature as an opt-in channel, is always customer- and privacy-first. Consumers have to give their explicit permission to receive text messages from brands and to share their private information with them. SMS also appeals to consumers’ desire for control over communication and data sharing by making it extremely easy to opt-out. All a user has to do is reply, “STOP” (or some variation), and the brand must comply. That being said, they rarely do — SMS has a less than 5% opt-out rate.

So no matter how strict privacy policies become — with the new iOS, or future updates from Apple and Google — you will have a direct line of communication with an audience who willingly shares their private information, so you can create personalized experiences that drive revenue without any blockers.

Why Yotpo SMS & Email?

Brands who create valuable mobile experiences that inspire trust and drive engagement will succeed in the aftermath of Apple’s privacy changes. And the best way to do that is adopting SMS marketing. Yotpo SMS & Email is built for your mobile shoppers to ensure you drive success with the channel.

With Yotpo SMS & Email, your brand can:

  • Grow your audience fast with subscriber collection tools built for the mobile consumer.
  • Hyper-tailor every engagement by leveraging our robust segmentation engine of 35+ data points. That way, each customer gets a unique SMS experience.
  • Collect zero-party data through both automated and live conversational messaging to deliver personalized product recommendations, which drive the highest conversions.
  • Send timely and immediate updates that engage customers, like flash sales or shipping notifications.
  • Access vast analytics and reporting with critical SMS metrics (like CTR, CVR, ROI, and subscriber growth) to optimize for success.

Don’t be hindered by Apple’s iOS 15 update — it’s an opportunity to expand your reach and find even more effective marketing strategies for the future like these top brands. Yotpo SMS & Email is prepared to help. Request a demo of our SMS platform, or get started today.