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Apple will be releasing Mountain Lion and iOS 6 in July and in the fall respectively with some interesting changes to their mail.app client. The feature is called VIPs and it will likely add another wrinkle or ask from the marketer to the subscriber who uses mail.app either on their desktop or iPhone.
A VIP is any person that you designate as being important enough to have their messages treated differently by Mail. You would designate someone as a VIP by clicking the star icon to the left of the person’s name in any incoming or sent message. Once this is done, you will notice that every message to or from that person/company now displays a star in message lists which will make it easier to find those messages. Once you designate a sender as a VIP, that sender gets their own entry in a new VIPs section of Mail’s Mailboxes sidebar.
In addition to this feature, Mail will now include a new condition called Sender is VIP. If you combine this with the new Send Notification you can configure Mail to notify you whenever a new email arrives from a VIP. As you can see, the VIP feature is very similar to Google Priority Inbox which marks messages as “important”, but as with any Apple feature, it seems a bit sexier.
Some may question this feature and ask, why should I care? As an agency we help clients optimize their program and as part of that optimization we also get a pretty good read on how people are engaging with their email. We are seeing huge mobile readership (some in excess of 40%) and some with the top 2 email clients being iOS and the mail.app desktop version. This to me signifies the beginning of the end of asking people to “add to address” book. Subscribers are now in control over whether or not they want their BFF”s or Brand emails to show up and be marked as important in their email client.
My advice to those that are on the brand side is to learn how people are interacting with your email. Then formulate a plan of action if you see high penetration amongst iOS and mail.app users and be ready to start asking them to VIP you. Maybe this is the start of a new saying: “VIP me”
What are your thoughts?