Estimated read time: 3 minutes
Apple has rolled out a new feature that allows people anytime they have to give their email on a website to hide their email. It’s called hide my email and it’s already available from iPhone and iPad devices. It’s not yet available on Macs but should be soon.
Hide my email is currently an Apple-specific feature but that doesn’t mean that other browsers and services won’t copy it at some point. There are already chrome extensions that offer the feature as well. I cannot vouch for them as I have not tried them.
How does hide my email work?
In browsers on Apple devices users get the option to add their pre-filled email address or add a randomly generated one that then forwards messages to your actual address.
Once you click hide my email you’ll get an email immediately letting you know what that email is. You don’t have to write it down for anything and it’s really just the email the company on the other end sees. It automatically forwards to your actual email.
This does work in Safari on my iPad. But it doesn’t work in every app – including the Twitter email sign-up form. The feature also doesn’t work if it can’t tell that a specific field is asking for an email. I’ve seen some forms that visually ask for an email. But they are somehow coded in a way that Safari can’t tell what the specific personal information is that it’s asking for.
Are people using hide my email?
Well, there’s certainly limited opportunity to use it right now. It’s only possible from iPhones and iPads. And while I use my iPad quite often I don’t use it all day long. During the day, I mostly am in my office and use my computer which doesn’t currently offer the functionality.
In other words, people – especially people that are shopping for business – related things are probably sitting at the computer and not on the couch with the iPad on their lap.
I also looked at the last batch of sign-ups to my email list to see if any of them used what appears to be a hide my email email address. None of them did and all had an email domain that I could recognize and the names didn’t look randomized.
What can corporate marketers do about hide my email?
Of course, it always depends on the goal. If the sign-up form is for a blog newsletter why does it matter if we know who the subscribers are? Just keep sending them the blog articles and at some point if they’re ready to buy some thing from you they raise their hand.
People who try to sign up for a product demo or trying to buy something usually have to give way more personal information than just an email. So even if they use hide my email in that scenario you’ll still know who they are to an extent.
Plus, I’m not quite sure why I would use hide my email with companies I have an established relationship with. For example, I’m not going to log into my Amazon account and change my email address.
One thing to keep in mind, that if companies sell email lists the end-user can tell who is the original company that sold it.
You can also use web tracking tools like webinsights.com to get an idea who is on your website.
At the end of the day, the reason we need tools like this one as consumers is because companies have used and abused our emails. It wouldn’t be necessary if communications are wanted and relevant.
For now, I’m not worried about the hide my email feature from a marketing perspective.