From inbox filtering to junk reporting, Apple’s iOS 16 offers new privacy controls to protect users from unwanted messages. Here’s what you need to know to keep SMS a top-performing channel.
Privacy changes are not slowing down. With their latest operating system update, iOS 16, Apple has taken yet another step towards giving mobile consumers more control over how they engage, and who can reach them. While the true impact of this update on consumer behavior remains to be seen, brands using SMS marketing should take action now to build trust and start generating more engagement with customers.
What’s new in iOS 16?
The most notable update to Apple’s operating system that marketers should be aware of is the ability to block, filter, and report messages on iPhone. Within the Messages app, users can filter their inbox according to known and unknown senders (such as a number not saved in your contacts), with even more advanced filtering being tested with users in Brazil and India who can view messages by subcategories, such as promotions or transactions, in an experience that resembles the email inbox. This iOS feature is currently off by default, but consumers who choose to use it will have greater control over the types of messages they engage with and when.
Beyond filtering, Apple is also extending its “Report as Junk” feature to SMS and MMS. Depending on the carrier and country, iOS users can select a text message from an unknown number and report that message as spam. That sender’s information and message are then sent to Apple, and the message is permanently deleted from their phone. This will not prevent the sender from sending additional messages (only blocking the number will do that), but it could lead to filtering if the number is reported too often to participating wireless carriers.
How to protect your SMS marketing
As we saw in the aftermath of iOS 15, investing in customer relationships is key to solving for these privacy changes. If your customer wants to receive SMS marketing messages from your brand, is excited by your regular offers and updates, and is inclined to purchase your products, then these and future iterations of privacy controls won’t be able to threaten your goals.
To establish those relationships and prevent your SMS subscribers from going private, follow these five best practices.
1. Polish up your opt-in processes
When encouraging customers to become SMS subscribers, there are two important things to keep top of mind: maintaining compliance and providing value. Compliance is critical to SMS marketing success and ensuring your customers have the best possible mobile experience, while non-compliant behavior can result in penalties and fines. Brands that adhere to industry best practices and global compliance standards, collecting consent through compliant sign-up units and properly managing opt-outs, should continue to see strong read and response rates with iOS 16.
But even if a subscriber has opted in to your SMS marketing compliantly, they can still flag your messages as spam, which is where the value exchange comes in. What can you offer your customers in return for their phone number to keep them engaged?
A Yotpo survey found that shoppers are interested in a combination of short-term and long-term values, with one-time offers, early access to sales and new releases, and instant transactional notifications their biggest motivators to opt in. Let your customers know what to expect from your SMS marketing, and lead with an exciting call to action wherever you collect subscribers to not only hook their interest, but also condition them to expect your messages in their inbox — and get excited about them.
2. Get in your customer’s contacts
What about when those first messages are sent? Contact cards are a simple solution to landing in your iOS customer’s main inbox again and again.
With contact cards, you can create a personalized ID for your brand to boost recognition and drive higher SMS marketing engagement. These contact cards attach your store name and logo (or image of your choice) to your dedicated SMS number, and are sent with a customizable message to educate your customer on the importance of saving your contact to stay up to date on special deals, new product launches, and more.
Any time you gain a new subscriber, share this contact card with them as a part of the welcome flow. This will encourage the subscriber to save your information upfront, making it easy for them to identify your communications while positioning your brand as a trusted friend rather than just another unknown number.
3. Increase the personalization of your messages
The secret to building relationships with customers is creating experiences that feel unique and personal to them. Over 60% of consumers find texts more engaging when they are relevant to their interests and past purchases, and 54% are more likely to make a purchase if the messages they receive are personalized.
Avoiding the batch and blast approach will be even more important now to prevent coming off as spam and getting reported accordingly. Instead, leverage shortcodes and segmentation to make every SMS marketing message you send more effective.
Simple additions like your store name, site URL, or customer first name can further increase your brand recognition while giving your texts a personal touch that customers appreciate. Apply the data you have too — your customers’ locations, demographics, cart values, membership data, predictive data, and more — to craft segmented audiences and expertly engage them with products, offers, and exciting milestones.
4. Bring your loyalty program to mobile
Loyalty members expect an even higher level of exclusivity and personalization to stay engaged and purchasing. By integrating SMS with your loyalty program, such as with Yotpo SMSBump and Yotpo Loyalty, you can easily identify target audiences, like members who have an active points balance but have never made a redemption, and send them the right message at exactly the right time to capture their attention.
Use your loyalty data to make both campaigns and flows more relevant, conditioning critical notifications like abandoned checkout for a higher chance of conversion. You can even insert specific loyalty shortcodes into your texts, like your customer’s VIP tier name or current points balance, to create personal messages that are never hindered by privacy controls.
5. Pay attention to what works, and what doesn’t
SMS is not a set it and forget it channel. Pay close attention to your SMS performance analytics — where are click-through and conversion rates highest? — to understand which messages are the most effective with your audience and which ones aren’t resonating with them, then optimize your strategy accordingly. By tracking and pivoting in real time, you can adapt to both positive trends and challenges instantly to keep engagement at its peak.
Maintain sky-high ROI with Yotpo SMSBump
While Apple’s privacy changes often make it more difficult for marketers to do their jobs effectively, they may also help curb bad actors, protecting the long term viability of SMS as a high ROI channel for brands that respect it and their customers. By following these best practices, your brand can stand out from the rest, strengthen your SMS marketing strategy, and lessen the impact of any privacy changes in the years to come.
To learn how Yotpo SMSBump can support you as you build these intelligent, personalized experiences that foster relationships, chat with one of our experts today.