Apple is releasing the much-anticipated iOS update this September. And while it brings good news for customers, B2B marketers can't quite say the same.
In earlier versions, marketers could track users through multiple tools and different data sets. They could identify critical information about users and then use that to target them with ads. Furthermore, some could then sell this data to other entities as advertising opportunities.
So, what is the update about?
It revolves around the Identifier for Advertisers (IFDA), which broadly refers to multiple characters that iPhone apps use to track user activity without specifically identifiable data.
With the previous update, Apple requires developers to ask permission before using users’ IDFA.
The new update also allows control of automatic tracking of email opens. The Mail Privacy Protection measures affect the mail app by limiting tracking pixels and masking of users' IP addresses. This change promises to affect measurement tactics for email marketing campaigns in the future.
Hide My Email
Another new feature to be aware of is "Hide my email," which allows anonymity for the users. With this tool, the users can create multiple burner accounts to share. Emails to these burner accounts forward to their inboxes whenever they want to remain private.
Users can also register new accounts with these emails instead of their personal ones.
What does it mean for B2B marketers?
Email marketing is still the number 1 client communication and engagement strategy for B2B marketers. They typically track open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, etc., from email campaigns. Yet, these new measures will make it difficult to track open rates and locations from Apple devices.
When users open emails, the tracking pixel loads with the email's images and then sends the information back to you about who opened it, their location, email and device IDs, etc. These reflect in your campaign reports.
The update now allows users to block this tracking if they wish, so you won't know whether an email was opened or not.
Changing Reporting Metrics
Over time, B2B marketers have grown obsessed with open rates, even though they typically do very little to demonstrate email performance. They only show that a user has previewed the email, but nothing about how they perceived it or any insights you need to make improvements.
The new iOS 15 update will push B2B marketers to consider other avenues for measuring email marketing performance. For instance, conversion rates or link clicks are a more accurate indicator of willingness to engage further.
Additionally, marketers would need to emphasize more on optimizing Calls To Action (CTAs). Since you can no longer access open-rate data, your content must now focus on convincing customers to take specific actions.
In that regard, marketers will need to readjust their lead scoring metrics to account for the changing open rates they will experience.
The "Hide my email" features will also pose endless challenges. There will be almost no way of knowing if a registered email is legitimate. And since they can easily add or remove them, businesses will end up with inaccurate email lists, high bounce rates.
Customers are in control
B2B marketers will need to become more customer-centric in how they handle data and advertisements. For long, marketers have treated mail lists and contact lists as mere assets to create campaign reports. They haven’t taken the time to understand customer needs and adjust their strategies to suit those.
This update could greatly halt this trend and force such marketers to put customer needs front and center to achieve credible results like high engagement numbers.
Apple prioritizes customer privacy in emails, making it easier to avoid spammy and uninteresting content completely.
You should use insights obtained from engagement to improve customer experience, which would then help your brand to grow and foster customer loyalty and engagement.
The iOS 15 update emphasizes that the customer and not your business owns their data and thus reserve the right to allow or refuse you to use it based on how much value you provide.
Priority on lead acquisition stages
B2B marketers might have to pay more attention to lead acquisition tactics and strategies moving forward. Such privacy provisions continue to highlight the fact that audiences are tired of endless promotions and communications from brands they have little interest in.
So, businesses must focus more on attracting the right users who are genuinely interested in their offerings and are more likely to purchase. Such stringent means would reduce the wastage involved in nurturing multiple leads who neither engage nor buy.
Yet, with the new updates, it becomes even harder to track their behavior down the line.
Key to note
To access the "Hide my email" feature, users will have to spend $1 to $10 per month to upgrade to premium. So, you could expect minimal changes, at least for a start, unless your business deals with high-profile clients that would immediately want to adopt it.
Furthermore, “open-rate” metrics are not often very accurate. Rather, they are simply predictive and do not provide much insight except that a user saw the email. So, for marketers that don’t rely on this metric, these updates may also not bring significant changes to your results or strategies.
There are a few tools you can use to get around this measure. For instance, the SharpSpring automation tool comes with a feature in “Forms” that only accepts business emails. With such, it becomes easier for you to avoid or reduce the collection of spam emails.
Customers are increasingly concerned about data safety online, and brands like Apple are becoming more proactive in helping them achieve greater control with such updates.
However, what remains true is that customers are still willing to share some data if it provides value to them. So B2B marketers can take the new iOS 15 update as a cue to change how they communicate to customers or risk low returns from their marketing investments.
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