email-marketing-apple-iOS

The increasing impact of mobile in email is a sign that email marketing strategies need to be revisited. In our previous analysis, we explained it and also how Apple iPhone and iPad have emerged as two out of three most popular email clients in 2016.

The release of Apple iOS 10 in September 2016, however, brought significant changes to Apple’s incredibly popular mobile OS. These included some notable changes to the email system in iOS, reports litmus, which has curated data of email performance in its latest report titled “State of Email 2016”. Gartner reports that Apple iPhone accounted 17.9% of worldwide smartphone sales share in Q4 2016. Given the magnitude of Apple’s ecosystem and userbase, even small changes to email can result in a big upheaval in how email marketers target users.

Let us analyse these changes, and how they will affect email marketing.

iOS 10 Adds The Ability To Delete Pre-Installed Apps

For the first time ever, iOS now allows its users the freedom to delete pre-installed apps. While many Android have had the option to do this for a while now, this is the first time that iPhone users would be able to do the same. This new addition will have significant consequences for email marketers.

As we reported earlier, mobile is rapidly becoming the preferred device for email viewing, and Apple’s iOS-based mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad have contributed significantly to this paradigm shift. According to a recent report by Litmus, the Apple iPhone is the most popular email client in the world with 33% of market share. The Apple iPad is not too far behind, being the 3rd most popular email client behind iPhone and Gmail.

With the ability to delete pre-installed apps, we may see iOS users move away from the iOS mail app to another email client of their choice. This could lead to a loss in market share for Apple’s native email client, as users migrate to another popular client of their choice.

List-Unsubscribe Comes To iOS 10

The most significant change to email in iOS 10 comes with the addition of list-unsubscribe feature. Apple has now joined the ranks of Google and Yahoo to provide this feature. On the face of it, this seems like very bad news for email marketers. This new feature allows iOS users to easily unsubscribe to mailing lists via a native unsubscribe link.

As expected, this has led to significantly increased occurrences of unsubscribes. However, there is no reason to panic yet for email marketers, as this could actually be beneficial to them in the long run.

Why List-Unsubscribe May Be A Blessing In Disguise

While conventional wisdom may say that cancelled subscriptions are bad for business, they could help streamline email marketing campaigns. Unsubscribes can contribute in keeping the mailing list streamlined, tailored and targeted towards people who want to receive these emails. Most users, who are prone to unsubscribe, are inactive or unhappy and do not generate any value. Thus the loss of revenue is minimal.

However, the biggest benefit of this feature is improved sender reputation and deliverability. Data shows that while 48% of consumers find signing up for email very easy, 38% of consumers find it as easy to unsubscribe. This leads to a higher occurrence of spam complaints. Around 50% of users have marked promotional emails as spam because they can’t easily figure out how to unsubscribe. This is potentially much more harmful than cancelled subscriptions. Allowing users to unsubscribe easily can help cut down on spam complaints, directly resulting in improved deliverability and sender reputation.

There are several steps that can be taken in order to avoid spam complaints and unsubscribes:-

  • Creating mobile-aware email design templates. With mobile now the dominant email platform, it has become more and more essential to tailor email experiences for mobile users.
  • Making the subscription cancellation process easier by making the link prominent and streamlining the entire process for convenience.
  • Emails should be relevant to the consumer.
  • To stand out and keep the consumer engaged, it is essential to surprise and delight the consumer. The experience can also be enhanced via the use of dynamic elements such as embedded video, GIFs, etc.

Other Notable Changes

Besides the two significant changes outlined above, there are also several less noteworthy revisions made to iOS 10. The update brings back support for HTML5 video with the ability to embed directly in an email. This is a welcome change for many brands for whom video content is key to their marketing strategy.

The auto-scaling feature also underwent some changes. Unfortunately, the new changes are causing scaling issues, causing even responsive emails to be zoomed in or off centre. The only solution to this issue seems to be targeting iOS 10 in CSS directly or turning of auto-scaling completely. Other changes also include dropped support for fixed positioning and iFrames.

Actionable Insights

  • With Apple adding the ability to delete pre-installed apps in iOS 10, users may shift away from the native iOS mail app. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of consumers’ email client preferences in order to provide a targeted and streamlined experience.
  • The introduction of list-unsubscribe to iOS may help in reducing spam complaints and consequently improve deliverability.
  • Dynamic email experiences including moving elements such as embedded video and GIF’s help increase user interest and engagement.