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A Look at Email + Apple's Passbook

By Stephanie Colleton


With the launch of iOS 6 came the Passbook feature which allows consumers to store coupons, loyalty cards and tickets on their iPhone or iPod touch. There were quite a few articles in the fall about which companies were onboard including Target, Starbucks, American Express and Walgreens. This list gives even more insight into who is using Passbook.

However, I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of them, particularly for retailer in-store coupons and for restaurants.

The option to quickly add the coupon to your Passbook is much more appealing—and easier—than printing out the coupon and once it’s added it’s easier to access while out shopping or dining than scrolling through an inbox to find the right email.

Although some consumers may find adding to Passbook an unnecessary extra step and just prefer to show the email to the cashier or server (I imagine this is for those who have an inbox with fewer marketing messages than I!).

And granted not everyone has an iPhone, but the option to print can still be shown. Below is an example of the email from Famous Footwear that has the Passbook call out as well as the Passbook coupon on the phone itself.


Sephora was one of the earliest adopters. Below is a screenshot of the call out for their loyalty program in one of their rewards updates:

A look through several retailers that often send in-store coupons, including Lord & Taylor, The Children’s Place and Bed, Bath and Beyond, showed that many marketers are not yet on board. Bed, Bath and Beyond specifically says “Saving Certificate must be printed. Cannot be redeemed from a mobile device.” Hopefully, they’ll get up to speed soon.

I also reviewed several restaurant chains including Chili’s, Friday’s, Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A. These did not have Passbook callouts either.

Some say “show your mobile phone” but do not specifically use Passbook. Below is an example from Chili’s with the mobile phone option. As a side note, I do like the pre-written social media post and the “Was this offer relevant to you?” call to action at the bottom of the Chili’s message.

Implementing and promoting Passbook is an excellent way to coordinate the email, mobile and brick and mortal channels. If you are looking to incorporate it into your program, you’ll find a few how-to articles here and here.  If you’ve seen more marketers than I promoting Passbook, please share those companies here.

Stephanie Colleton is director, professional services, response consulting for email intelligence firm Return Path, Inc.


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