Ecommerce brands have to reckon with the fact that we are moving toward an opt-in world, where consumers are in control and their privacy is always put first. With the recently released iOS 15, Apple has taken another step towards compliance with the GDPR, particularly with the rollout of Mail Privacy Protection.
Mail Privacy Protection gives all users of the iPhone’s Mail app the ability to activate advanced privacy features, while preventing marketers from using invisible pixels to collect information about their behaviour. Consumers who activate this feature 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 will have to brace themselves for the following impacts to email marketing:
- Apple stops senders from knowing when a user opens an email, making it difficult for brands to track open rates correctly.
- iOS 15 masks the IP address of users, preventing brands from knowing their location and tracing their online activity.
- Users who choose to hide their email are given a randomised alias from Apple, keeping their personal email addresses private and unavailable to brands.
Ecommerce brands will need to rethink everything about email communication moving forward, from metrics and subject line optimisation to data collection and retargeting. The solution to these privacy challenges is not solely new email strategies and workarounds, however. The solution is SMS marketing.
SMS marketing is already adapted to the new mobile-first, customer-first, privacy-first reality, so it is the perfect way for brands to continue to learn about – and effectively engage – mobile consumers as privacy policies tighten.
Provide value to collect SMS subscribers
Now that iOS 15 has been released, users will no longer share their data by default – and if they choose to opt in, they will want something in exchange. Brands will need to provide more value to convince customers to opt in, and SMS can help them deliver it.
When it comes to SMS marketing, our research shows that consumers are attracted to both short-term and long-term incentives, from one-time discount codes (47%) to early access to sales and new releases (42%) and direct one-to-one communication with brands.
You might find yourself collecting fewer email subscribers with iOS 15, so it is critical that you are reaching consumers elsewhere. By incentivising shoppers to opt in with perks like the above, your brand can attract subscribers more easily, whilst collecting robust qualitative data. One-to-one 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.
Use zero- and first-party data to deliver personalised 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 behaviour and purchase history, but you can 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 then reply with their interests, and your brand will instantly have the data you need to tailor future messaging.
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, personalised messages have a much higher chance of converting. In a world where targeting customers with customised messaging is becoming more challenging, channels like SMS that allow for this maximum tailoring and personalisation will be more competitive.
Drive a greater sense of urgency with SMS marketing
Email subject lines have historically been used to drive a sense of urgency. But with subject line optimisation and insights becoming limited, brands will need to find tangible ways to cut through the noise and inspire customers to act – and nothing catches a customer’s eye quite like a text message. In fact, 46% of UK 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: on their smartphones. And the fact that most text messages are read within minutes makes it especially effective for your brand’s shorter, time-sensitive campaigns. With the right copy, you can motivate a shopper to take immediate action.
SMS helps brands diversify communication and adapt to changing privacy protections
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 with ‘stop’ or some other variation of the term, and the brand must comply. That being said, they rarely do unsubscribe – SMS has a less than 5% opt-out rate globally.
Brands that create valuable mobile experiences that inspire trust and drive engagement will succeed in the aftermath of Apple’s privacy changes. No matter how strict privacy policies become in the future, adopting SMS marketing gives you a direct line of communication with an audience who willingly share their private information, so you can continue to create personalised experiences that drive engagement and revenue.
Yotpo’s SMS Marketing platform gives ecommerce brands the tools to craft unbeatable SMS experiences for today’s mobile shoppers. Start driving sales in just a few clicks and create your highest revenue channel with personalised messages that convert.
Talia Shani is director of marketing at Yotpo.