3 Product Strategies for Optimizing Activation and Engagement with iOS 15

By Poojan Jhaveri, Group Product Manager, YML

Did you know that 90% of all devices introduced in the last four years already use iOS 14? It will not be long before users upgrade to iOS 15. iOS, iPadOS & WatchOS Developer Betas are available starting today. Public beta will be available in July with full public release later in September.

As vaccination efforts ramp up across the world and we continue to stabilize our pandemic response, it is time to start thinking about making the transition from surviving to a thriving product in the post-pandemic world. While 2020 was all about pivoting to digital and ensuring we can reach out to customers in the best possible form, 2021 will be about making sure customers are engaged and served on newly formed hybrid user behaviors.

WWDC2021 was representative of the same principle of pushing through and getting back to the new normal. iOS 15 will be a significant release for customers, centered around staying connected, sharpening focus, using intelligence and exploring the world. Some noteworthy features include spatial audio, FaceTime links, ID cards in the wallet, privacy features and SharePlay.

To activate and engage users, your product team can leverage these key strategies with iOS 15:

  1. Acquire more users by optimizing your app store pages
  2. Acquire more users by rethinking your app store strategy
  3. Experiment and rethink your app store marketing

Product Strategy #1: How to acquire more users by optimizing your app store pages

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us closer to one another in many ways, and we see the beginnings of the post-pandemic era — we’re embarking upon a journey of hybrid work and connecting regardless of distance. We will only need more digital-first tools that ensure authentic, reliable, shared experiences.

FaceTime Links and SharePlay

Starting with iOS 15, Apple is now opening its FaceTime feature to web and Android devices. This is huge as now you’ll be able to FaceTime friends and family regardless of what device they are on. Just like some of the other video conferencing apps, you’ll also be able to share FaceTime links and include them in calendar events or share them more publicly in advance.

What takes this functionality one step forward, at least from an app and development perspective, is the feature called SharePlay. SharePlay allows users to share their digital on-screen experiences with their friends and family. With SharePlay, users can share and listen to music, watch videos and play and control apps in sync as a group. For instance, you can watch Avengers movies on Facetime and Disney+ with friends and be ensured that all of you are in sync on the playtime and can chat about the film without being left behind.

SharePlay also critically allows developers to extend their apps via APIs for a group activity. For instance, design apps such as Figma or fitness apps such as Peloton can easily create and let users have a multi-user shared experience to enable better collaboration and real-time interaction. This will open the door for many more unique customer journeys; imagine users inviting their friends to watch Game of Thrones and activate the HBO trial using a special promotion while at the same time having a feeling of a watch party across continents.

Modern connection facilitated by thoughtful, customer-centric products.

Along with app experiences, music, and video, users can also share screens — which can be particularly useful in customer support and help functions.

Next Step:
Start identifying the user journeys to bring shared experiences inside your app and work with your design team to prototype and test those out. Need help? Get in touch with YML.

Product Strategy #2: Acquire more users by rethinking your app store strategy

As per a Telefonica study, average users get as many as 63.5 notifications per day.

The push reaction rate averages at about 5%, and the remaining is just noise. With so much content being sent daily, it becomes tough to focus on and engage with any brand entirely.

Focus API

As part of iOS 15, Apple will now allow users to set their status — like driving, working, sleeping, or even a more custom one — and be able to control and customize what notifications they receive during those times. For example, users could enable Slack, Zoom or call notifications while setting “Work” status, which could postpone all other notifications at that time. App developers can also tap into this Status API and determine how to customize the app based on whether or not an active focus status is set.

New Notifications Experience

Apple has completely redesigned how users see the remaining non-time-sensitive notifications in a more summarized, consumable format to reduce distraction in the new focus modes.

People appreciate receiving a notification for something they care about, but they don’t always appreciate being interrupted. ~ Apple

For this, developers must provide an interruption level — passive, active, time-sensitive, and critical — for every push notification. This allows the system to prioritize intelligently and show the most relevant notifications to the users.

Notifications in iOS 15 can also have contact photos for communication apps to quickly identify who the message is from and for which app.

Not transitioning to this will result in a lower engagement rate with your push and eventually will trigger opt-out as enabled by Apple using “Turn off notifications for this app.”

Next Step:
Sit down and identify what your current notifications look like and how you can re-chart a new notification strategy with interruption level.

Product Strategy #3: Experiment and rethink your app store marketing

Just as search engine optimization is critical to web development, app store optimization is paramount to app marketers to ensure their apps are being discovered and downloaded by users. If users can’t get wowed by your app product page in the App Store, chances of achieving stellar conversion shrink to zero — no matter how good your app is.

App Product Page Optimization

Up until now, if you wanted to test which screenshots, videos and descriptions will help articulate what the app does and drive app store downloads, you had to iterate on screenshots over time and find out which sticks. Starting with iOS 15, teams can create and A/B test multiple app product pages on the App Store by experimenting with screenshots, videos and app icons to see which features resonate with the users most and generate the most downloads and purchases.

This will allow marketing teams to compare performances of these tests in App Store Connect and make data-backed decisions almost instantaneously without waiting days to determine statistical significance and other variables affecting the results.

Along with this, you can also create up to 35 different product pages for your apps in the App Store to reach customers who might be interested in a particular campaign (for example: an App Store page showcasing a tv show, a specific sports team, vegan vs barbecue restaurant finding, etc.).

Next Step:
Work with your marketing team to create product pages specific to your customer audiences. Start testing them and see which ones perform better for driving downloads.

In-App Events

65% of App Store downloads come through search — and while a search is an intent-driven action, it currently does not tell the user about what live steam or challenges the app might be running.

The other option that users have today is push notifications, and we all know how easily those can be missed. At the same time, there is no way for a push to help engage users for a movie premiere or special promotion who have not downloaded the app yet.

Starting with iOS 15, Apple is now letting marketers publish in-app events that can be discovered directly on app pages, search results, and even personalized recommendations on various sections on the App Store. This will allow teams to engage both existing and new customers directly within the App Store.

Image credits: Apple

Once the In-App event is configured in App Store Connect, marketers can share an event deeplink and use that in the promotion that lets users navigate directly to the App Store listing of the app, from where they’ll be able to participate in the event or start a subscription trial to get entry.

Health apps can promote vaccination drives, fitness apps can promote timed competitions, entertainment apps can promote movie premieres, and even e-commerce apps can acquire users for their sale events.

Next Step:
Work with your marketing team to set up a process to publish prioritized events in the App Store and craft a user experience around it.

For a full list of features in iOS 15, check out this page.

Connect with YML on how we can help you bring your ideas to life and get a first-mover advantage before September and check out our case studies with Thrive Market, The Home Depot, California Pizza Kitchen and more to see the impact we’re making for brands across technology, design and strategy.

About the Author: Poojan Jhaveri

Poojan is YML’s Group Product Manager, where he has been bringing digital experiences to life for brands across retail, fintech, grocery and a variety of other industries. His passion lies in the execution and optimization of user journeys across devices. Before YML, Poojan served as a digital product strategist at IDEO, applying product and design thinking for projects ranging from finance and augmented reality to entertainment, kids apps and multi-device systems. His work has been featured by Apple, Webby, TechCrunch, Parents Choice Awards, FastCo and other media outlets.

YML is a design and digital product agency. We create digital experiences that export Silicon Valley thinking to the world.