SPOTLIGHT ON TRANSITION: This post is part of a series of insights into the ways technology is reshaping marketing, the enterprise, and the world. Join us on July 16 for our Transition conference, where leaders from the fields of technology, marketing and global business – like General Electric CMO Beth Comstock and Unilever SVP of Marketing Marc Mathieu – share stories and examples of organizations successfully making it through times of transition.


In June, Apple hosted its annual developer conference, WWDC, and announced a number of major updates, news, and new features. “There were more announcements than any other year since iOS came out”, said Doug Tabuchi, mobile engineering lead at Percolate. “You walked out of the keynote with the feeling that your world has changed.”

The biggest news? The announcement of iOS 8, which has powerful new tools for marketers that will allow them to track analytics, optimize campaigns, and target fans based on user preferences easier than ever. Plus, more than 4,000 new APIs and an opening of the Apple eco-system for the first times means a chance for marketers to connect with users through Apple devices in a less intrusive manner than before. Here are the key points:

Omni-channel Experiences

Apple’s new OSX Yosemite is centered around the trending idea of continuity. Where Google is looking to the world of wearables to attack this, Apple is sticking – for now – with its existing hardware, creating experiences that will allow users to seamlessly move between desktop, laptop, iPhone and iPad.

“One of the big things that’s going to change how everything works is the hand-off feature,” said Doug. “The idea is that everybody has all these different devices, and until now we’ve been thinking about how to use apps on each specific thing. Now, you can be on the train writing an e-mail on your phone, and when you get to your desktop, it says ‘Hey, I see you’re writing an email.’ It pops up, and you can finish it and send it.”

Because consumers are expecting this inter-device ease more and more, marketers need to start being able to create seamless, omni-channel experiences, and also track that customer journey beyond online to offline.  Why is this especially important? You can now take phone calls on your computer. Beyond website visits, social shares, conversion rates, and the other metrics you typically track, you will need to start thinking about how to track calls from emails, search, social, and web.

The Power of Extensibility

Apple announced a feature it’s calling “extensibility”: the ability for apps to share information with each other. Most important for marketers is the opportunity this presents to push specific, personalized content from their apps to the iOS Notification Center. A user’s screen will become a direct channel for brands even when the phone is locked. Ebay users, for example, can follow an item they are bidding on all from the lock screen, without requiring them to enter a lock code or password.

More importantly, push messages that appear in your Notification Center can be customized to contain rich content and functionality relevant to the user: an outdoor ski brand, for example, can provide a daily snow condition update. JCrew can show off its latest on-sale items, prompting you to head over to the location currently closest to you. Aside from promoting their brand, this update also gives marketers the chance to nudge users to go back to their main app offering. With developers and marketers always looking to incentivize continued and consistent direct app use, this is big.

And, in other great news for newer brands: extensibility means they can leverage the popularity of an existing app and use it as a channel to promote itself with added functionality and relevant content. With app marketing costs at an all-time high — and, consequently, app download prices also growing — marketers worried about retaining downloads have more options.

Marketers: Don’t Forget the App Store

Apple also introduced more powerful ways to convince consumers to download your app. Developers can now offer video demos of their apps within its store page. A new app-bundling feature also means that if a brand has created several apps within the same topic or user base, it can group them together with promotional pricing. Why? In one fell swoop, you can extend the shelf life of older apps, extend user convenience and extend savings. For marketers, this equals the ever-important opportunity to resurface older apps and get them back in the game.

We <3 Buying Things

With iOS 8, the iPhone’s camera can snap photos of your credit cards to automatically populate credit card information fields in your browser — which means every time you want to complete a transaction online, one click will fill out all the details for you thanks to optical character recognition. It’s another layer of ease, moving brand interactions and transactions to mobile.

And it comes at a good time, as Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and more are trying their hand at social shopping. It’s awesome: if you see a book you like on Twitter, for example, you can now add it to your Amazon shopping cart simply by responding to the tweet with hashtag #AmazonCart. Still, Apple clearly wants to take the lead in online commerce — should it decide to unveil a mobile payment service, it already has at least twice as many credit cards on file than Amazon, thanks to more than 800 million active iTunes accounts.

Getting Healthy

The United States spends way more on healthcare expenditures than any nation on Earth, so there’s a big business opportunity in getting you healthy. So, Apple — like Google — is right to put itself right at the center of the self-health movement, and make sure your iPhone and iPad can contain everything you need to maintain your physical life.

How? In a move toward the increasing trend of health and fitness tracking, it has launched HealthKit, which will aggregate data from a variety of health apps and integrate health-related products and services into iOS functionality.

Not one to stop there, Apple has also partnered with giants like Mayo Clinic to deliver information and services: any Apple user can log in and get health and medical tips through the Mayo/Apple co-designed Health app and related HealthKit API. Down the road, this will include the opportunity for users to build personal health relationships with the Mayo Clinic.

These moves make it clear that Apple is looking to offer a one-stop shop for all a user’s curated health and physical monitoring needs, allowing us to have it all in one unified place. It will also curate thoughtful, healthy interactions based on meticulous (scary?) observation of its users, such as offering a jogger a running route based on the amount of sleep he/she got last night, or automatically contacting your local doctor should the need arise.

The takeaway? As the world gets fit, strong, and healthy — and it’s suddenly more and more in our hands to make decisions doctors normally would — marketers should take a look at their business models and target audiences. The best marketers will be finding integration opportunities to align themselves with this new function in every Apple user’s pocket.