Apple’s Passbook is a big deal for Email Marketing
Alex Williams | September 21, 2012
Here at Trendline, we are very focused on making email and mobile work together. One key aspect of that is working with and launching apps from emails on popular smartphone operating systems like iOS and Android. When the iPhone 5 drops and iOS 6 adoption increases, email marketers will be happier than the Apple fanboys. The reason is Passbook, which email is going to play a huge role in.

The Facts: The iPhone was 21% of 105 million opens tracked by Litmus Email Analytics in August 2012

Here’s how Apple describes Passbook: “No more searching through your email or fumbling with paper printouts. Passbook keeps all your gift cards, coupons, passes, and tickets organized and at the ready.”  The keyword there for us is “coupons”, one of the main reasons people sign up for email programs.  And it’s most simplistic feature is adding a coupon.

Why is this a big deal for Email Marketers?

Passbook is a built-in App.

Email marketers send a lot of coupons, mainly focused on a small window of consideration for predominately ecommerce purchases. When the offer is focused on driving foot traffic, the discount has to be inordinately large just to get the subscriber to print it or reference it. Now, we have the ability to get a subscriber to add the coupon to Passbook and be reminded when they reach the destination. Oh yeah, and they can’t delete the app, and the coupon will be surrounded by crucial things like concert tickets, loyalty cards,  and gift cards. This is huge.

Passes can be delivered via links.

When you have say the American Airlines app on your iPhone, Passbook will communicate with it and add your boarding passes to Passbook. Well, the beauty is, we can add passes to Passbook via a linked file, without having to have the user add your app. You don’t even to have an app! (If you’re on iOS 6, click this link for an example. Don’t worry you can delete it using Apple’s “Paper Shredder”) One of the top Call-to-Actions you’ll see in the future will be “Add to Passbook”.

Location, email’s holy grail.

With Passbook, email marketers can add time/date and location based reminders to their offers. Now that 10% off coupon becomes a lot more valuable and frictionless for subscribers. And we will have tracking data on clicks to “add to Passbook”, which will give us ability to analyze, test, and follow up on consumer experiences. Win win win.

You don’t need a developer to create Passes.

iOS development is another world from good ‘ol nested table HTML email (tech elites have no idea how complicated email is behind the scenes). Nice thing here is that there is a whole cottage industry springing up to create tools for marketers to easily create passes. A promising one I found in my searches is PassSource, which has templates and an API, which I am most interested in to create passes on the fly and customize. I’ll provide a few demos and tutorials next week. Exciting times in email marketing!
Alex Williams
Alex Williams
Creative Director
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