Dialing into iOS 17's impact on email & SMS marketing


minute read

Grab a cup of coffee (or perhaps something stronger) because we're diving into the mysterious, occasionally nerve-wracking, but always exciting world of iOS updates. This time, we're facing down the behemoth that is iOS 17. Previewed in June, iOS 17 is now in beta testing and slated for full release in September. There are tons of new features, particularly for the Messages app, which will impact how people interact with SMS. Here’s what we know. 

1. More email inbox privacy

Marketers who rely heavily on measuring open rates and location data will have to work around Apple's Mail Privacy Protection feature launching in iOS 17. It gives users the option to mask their IP address and prevent senders from knowing when they've opened an email.

Yep, it’s going to be tougher to track email open rates and location data. But hey, who doesn’t love a challenge? It’s time to get creative with your metrics! More emphasis will be placed on click-through rates, conversions, or time spent on site to gauge your email campaign's success (which, honestly, were probably more valuable metrics to begin with).

Photo of an iPhone ad billboard on the side of a building

2. Option to default to DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is an alternate search engine dedicated to the privacy of its users. It’s been rising in popularity since its 2008 launch and is now the second most popular mobile search engine in the US. Instead of storing users’ IP addresses and search terms, DuckDuckGo hides IP addresses by redirecting the information request and preventing it from sending their search terms to the site. 

With the launch of iOS 17 comes the advent of DuckDuckGo for Mac. The app, available now as a public beta, has built-in privacy protections like private search, tracker blocking, website encryption, and email protection. Marketers won’t be able to retarget customers who’ve selected DuckDuckGo as their default email app with ads based on their inbox content. 

So what can you do? You’ll likely have to work even harder to ensure your email content provides clear value to your customers. You’ve got to get them interested in what you've got to say (or sell), without the help of an algorithm assist. That said, ultimately, we’re not convinced that a significant share of iOS 17 users will  select DuckDuckGo as their default email app out the gate. So (for now)  this change isn’t raising alarm bells.

Screenshot of DuckDuckGo web browser

3. Privacy for SMS authentication 

iOS 17 comes with a feature that generates a temporary number for two-factor authentication (2FA) SMS. It’s a win for users seeking privacy, but throws a small wrench in your customer data collection methods if you’re using 2FA on your e-commerce site. 

Brands that use 2FA will need to offer additional value to encourage users to share their real phone number willingly. Most brands are already doing this by promising exclusive offers and first dibs on new products to customers willing to give their digits and opt in to SMS. Here are some examples of super enticing pop-ups that give customers compelling reasons to subscribe.

AAVRANI skincare web popup for text channel sign up

The good news email & SMS marketers

Despite greater privacy controls for email, the changes to iMessage are giving SMS marketers reason to celebrate. For instance, Apple is releasing a basket of fresh emojis to capture every mood under the sun. Alongside this, Memojis will be able to more accurately reflect users’ facial expressions. And the fun doesn’t stop there. Remember when you had to juggle between different apps for a voice note, a video message, or a text? Well, wave goodbye to those days because iOS 17 delivers a richer integration of media right within your iMessages app. 

Perhaps most exciting are the brand new in-line replies feature. Gone are the days of scrolling up to find the last message you read. Apple is making that easier with a single tap of an arrow. At the same time, replying to a thread will be as easy as a swipe. And new search enhancements will make it easier to navigate between conversions. 

Although they don’t affect SMS marketing in particular, the updates will make iMessage an even more fun engaging place for users to spend their time. Which is a win-win for consumers and marketers alike.

iPhone messages using new IOS 17 stickers

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