Passbook: What Does It Mean For Email Marketers?

I’m pretty sure that the iPhone 5 launch towards the end of last year wouldn’t have escaped your attention. You’ll probably also know that along with the new handset, Apple also released their snazzy new operating system, iOS 6.

Possibly the most significant new feature unveiled as part of iOS 6 was something called Passbook, which offers users a brand new way to store coupons, tickets and loyalty cards all under one roof on their Apple device.

Online Discounts

Passbook is an app that all marketers should absolutely have on their radar.

Apple says that Passbook means ‘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.’

But hold on, this blog is about email marketing, what does the Passbook mean for e-marketers?

Well, as a rule, email marketers tend to send and share coupons and savings with their email lists. However, unless the discount is pretty substantial, marketers have always found it a challenge to get a subscriber to print off the coupon, take it in store and actually take advantage of the offer.

But what if the recipient can (with ease) add the coupon to Passbook and be reminded of the offer when they are in close proximity of the store? Yes, Passbook allows this – opening up a whole new world of possibilities for e-marketers.

Location, Location, Location

With Passbook, email marketers can add time/date and location-based reminders to their offers and it works like this:

Example:  If you’ve stored an offer from ABC cosmetics onto Passbook, a notification will appear on your iPhone/iPad’s lock screen anytime you’re near the store. Sliding the notification sees the virtual coupon come into view so that it can be scanned and the offer or discount obtained.


As Passbook gathers pace and marketers start to test its value for themselves, ‘Add to Passbook’ is likely to become a more dominant call to action in emails. What’s more, this data can be tracked, allowing senders to analyse, test, and follow up on purchaser experiences.

The cherry on the top?

There is no need to develop your own app; you can simply deliver a pass via email to your database by linking to a ‘passfile’. There are a few providers I’m aware of that already offer this service including Passdock or PassFu although I’m sure a quick Google search will return many more results.

So there you have it, Passbook in a nutshell. If you need any more convincing on the potential enormity of the app then how about the fact that it’s a native app.  This means that it is automatically installed on a user’s iPhone when they upgrade to iOS 6 or purchase a new iPhone 5, so you as the marketer don’t even have to get people to download Passbook before harnessing its potential!

Want to know more about mobile? Download our free Guide to Mobile Email Marketing.


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