What iOS 16 Means for Your Marketing According to Experts


iOS 16 was released on September 12, 2022, and iOS 16.2 is expected in mid-December. What impact has iOS 16 had on marketing performance so far? And how are top marketers handling it? Keep reading to get the lowdown on iOS 16 and find out what you can do to future-proof your brand against Apple’s tough stance on privacy.

If you’re a marketer, “iOS” and  “update” probably aren’t your favorite words. The last two iOS updates have been extremely challenging (if not outright devastating) to navigate for marketers.

Like its predecessors, iOS 16 is a mixed bag for marketers, and largely good news from a user experience perspective. However, the shift toward heightened customer privacy and stricter security has had an undeniable impact on how brands run, measure, and attribute their campaigns.

Apple considers privacy a “fundamental human right,” and Apple CEO Tim Cook recently called protecting privacy the "most essential battle of our time." Therefore, it is no surprise that the company’s relentless focus on privacy shines through in every update, including iOS 16. Beyond privacy, the update includes a bunch of new features that marketers need to know about.

What’s new with iOS 16?

The main purpose of iOS 16 is to improve the user experience. Many changes are designed to make users’ lives easier—from door detection to help the visually impaired, to letting users “undo” sent emails. Let’s dive into the main features that you, as a marketer, need to know about.

Safety Check

Safety Check is one of the most important new features in iOS 16. Apple explains it like this: “You can use Safety Check on iPhone (running iOS 16 or later) to quickly stop sharing your information, or to review and update sharing with individual people and apps.”

Instead of searching through various sections of the Settings app, iOS 16 gives users a “panic button” to instantly disconnect their iPhone from undesirable people, apps, and devices. 

With Safety Check, users can instantly turn off access to Health, Home, calendars, photos, notes and location. If your brand uses any of these data sources, ensure users are aware what data you are collecting from them and why, to avoid opt-outs.

Customizable Lock Screens

Previously, the iPhone lock screen showed notifications, the time, date, and a few buttons to access the flashlight or camera. With iOS 16, iPhone users can customize their lock screens with fonts, slideshows of photos, and widgets.  

Apple understands that what people want and need depends on their mood and the time of day, which is why users can now set up personalized lock screens for different Focus Modes. Focus Modes, like Do Not Disturb, Personal, Sleep, and Work, help users establish boundaries and choose what they want to see and when. 

For instance, people can set up a lock screen in a professional style with useful widgets for their job, then choose cute puppy photos for the lock screen they see while relaxing at home.

Marketing takeaway: This element of iOS 16 does not have a direct effect on marketers, but it’s important to be aware that offers and communications you send are appearing in an increasingly personal digital space for customers. 

Focus Filters

Focus filters are a key new feature in iOS 16. Focus filters enable users to set boundaries within Apple apps like Calendar, Mail, Messages, and Safari. For example, users can choose to hide their work emails when they’re using the Personal Focus. 

Marketing takeaway: This will likely make it harder for brands to reach users at times when they don’t want to be available, which may have an impact on SMS engagement. 

Silence and Allow Lists

Silence and Allow lists enable users to prevent specific people or apps from contacting them when a specific Focus is applied. For example, a user might choose to block notifications from a gaming app while they are at work, or silence email and calendar notifications from their work account when they are out with friends.

Marketing takeaway: If your brand uses push notifications to engage with customers, you may have noticed a decline in engagement. Consider sending fewer, more impactful push notifications and combining your push notification messaging with other channels.

Notifications & Live Activities

The iOS 16 update has overhauled Apple’s notification system. New notifications now appear at the bottom of the screen rather than the top. 

Furthermore, the Live Activities API allows applications to update the lock screen with live-event data rather than spamming users with repetitive notifications.

For example, someone who orders a pizza from a food delivery app will no longer be bombarded with updates regarding the whereabouts of their meal. Instead of several notifications, users see a single widget with real-time updates. 

Marketing takeaway: As this is quite a new feature and idea, we’re looking forward to seeing the ways that brands can engage with customers and provide new experiences via their native apps!

Order tracking

Apple has made some important changes to optimize the shopping experience with Apple Pay. Users can now view receipts and track Apple Pay orders directly in Wallet. They also get notifications about shipping and delivery dates. 

Marketing takeaway: This makes it easier for brands to notify customers of any changes or delays, and provide easy access to customer service and order management options. As the post-purchase experience has a huge influence on overall customer satisfaction and loyalty, these changes could help brands boost retention.

Buy now, pay later

Apple has introduced a new “Pay Later” option to split the cost of an in-app or online purchase into four installments over the course of six weeks with no interest or fees. 

Apple Pay Later uses the Mastercard network to power BNPL transactions with Apple Pay and requires no integration for merchants.

Marketing takeaway: This is great news. BNPL makes it easier for brands to offer their customers more flexibility, which can boost conversions, increase average order value, and attract a wider customer base.

New Mailbox features

Apple has overhauled the Mail app and introduced a variety of improvements to enhance usability. Automated suggestions make it easier for users to search through and find old emails, and users can “undo” sent emails.

Marketing takeaway: It is now possible to include rich links in the app, which display a clickable preview of the page. This gives a great opportunity to include a compelling image that will encourage higher click-through rates.

iOS 16 Opinions from Marketing pros

What do the pros say? Here are some top tips on how to handle the update.

How to get past the filters

“With the new iOS 16 update, iPhone users can filter text messages from unknown senders,” says Jessica Schanzer, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Klaviyo. “If you want to ensure that all subscribers read your texts, we recommend sending your virtual contact card to subscribers so they can save you as a contact. Once someone saves your contact card, all future texts will show up as from your brand.”

According to Jessica, a branded virtual contact card is a key way to improve the efficiency of your SMS marketing. “Create a virtual contact card for your brand, encourage current subscribers to save you as a contact, and share your contact card with existing and new subscribers, so they can see that texts are coming from your brand.”

Optimize your tech stack

“Marketers are faced with the challenge of creating hyper-personalized and segmented content that encourages customers to interact with and not filter brand messages as ‘other’ or ‘junk.’ This is going to require the use of integrated, complete, and accurate first and zero-party data,” says Jason Davis, Co-Founder and CEO of Simon Data.

Jason recommends making sure you have the right attribution technology in place. “Compounded by the iOS15 release, which highlighted privacy concerns around email marketing, the right MarTech stack becomes even more necessary for a modern marketer. With advanced segmentation and a complete customer view, tools like a CDP unlock more possibilities to engage with customers at their moment of need and on their channel of choice, all from a single source of truth.”

Follow best practices

“SMS filtering can be seen as scary to marketers, but if they’re executing with a strong value exchange and proper message cadence, the impact should be minimal,” reassures Elizabeth Emery, VP, Mobile & Ad Tech Solutions at Tinuiti. “Consumers have always had the ability to unsubscribe from SMS simply by replying with “STOP”. Marketers have to remember that anything that gives users more control is a positive for the overall marketing ecosystem.”

Elizabeth also emphasizes the need for a clear compliance strategy. “Marketers need to understand their data collection/execution process inside and out to ensure compliance. The consequences of not having a privacy strategy are fines and lost customers, resulting in a loss of consumer trust.”

iOS 16 and beyond: privacy is here to stay

Apple is determined to show that users do not need to compromise between data security and user experience. While iOS 16 has not been as dramatic as other updates, the shift toward privacy is not going anywhere. 

If Apple updates (understandably) stress you out, Daasity can help. Daasity creates the only true single source of truth around omnichannel brand data. To learn more about how we can help with your data architecture and analytics needs, you can get in touch.

Or, if you’d like to keep reading…

Check out our zero-party data guide to learn how to future-proof your brand in a compliance-focused world.

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