These are the consequences of the Apple mail privacy protection for marketers

Email marketing is constantly changing, and it is a continuous battle to reach people’s inboxes with relevant content. Many of us concentrate on the strategy of planning an email send such as value proposition, using a sender list, and the design of the email itself. However, considering recent changes in Apple’s mail privacy protection, we should be taking more notice of what happens when the email is sent out. Learn what the effects of these latest changes are and how you can make sure you optimize your email marketing now.

Apple has announced that as of the 20th of September this year, Mail Privacy Protection will come into force for their Mail app as part of the latest versions of their OS for devices (iOS 15 and iPad OS 15*). This will now stop us as senders from being able to collect information on users, like when the email was opened, and will mask a user’s IP address so that their location or other online activities cannot be tracked. 

Users now have the option to either “Protect Mail activity” or “Don’t protect me”, meaning email recipients will have to make a choice on whether Apple can block IP addresses and location on mail tracking pixels. Those that choose to activate this new protect function cannot be tracked in terms of open rates which will affect your email KPIs. And because you’re not able to monitor where the email has been opened, this means it cannot be linked to a user’s other online activity. 

This, however, should not be seen as a negative but as a push for us, marketeers, to look at our email campaigns from a different perspective and consider alternative metrics to the traditional open rate. 

So, what should you be doing now?  

We recommend the following to improve email engagement: 

  • Look at subscriber-focused metrics like unsubscribe rate, spam complaints, and the potential value of each of your subscribers.  
  • Review your existing email data and consider using non-email engagement metrics such as purchases, account activity, website visits, as email clicks alone won’t be able to give you this level of detail. 
  • Exclude email open rates from recipients opening the email on Apple devices – Litmus, in their latest report said this could be as high as 61.7% for desktop devices and 40.3% of all emails being opened on Apple iPhones 
  • Use device identification analytics to make sure you are only reporting on non-Apple email clients if open rates are a key metric for your campaign – otherwise, the data will be skewed. This is also useful to see how many of your email subscribers will be affected by the recent changes. 
  • Avoid the Spam filter by only sending campaigns to engaged subscribers. Amend your data management processes to filter out contacts that have not engaged with any of your email campaigns recently. This is important as your system may have triggers set to send emails to contacts that have opened emails rather than clicked. 
  • Use the changes as an opportunity to review your preference center and ensure that your contacts are receiving relevant content to increase engagement, so you are less reliant on open rates. 
  • You also need to audit triggers used in other email marketing tactics as it is likely that they use open rates as well, such as:
    • Nurture or re-engagement campaigns 
    • Send time optimization, as this will be inaccurate due to not being able to see the true time an email was opened 
    • Personalization based on the types of emails a recipient has opened – remember, if you rely on other online activity as a segmentation for this it will also be affected for Apple Mail users 
    • A/B testing that uses email open rate to determine the winner 

*Mail Privacy Protection will not appear on MacBooks until the release of macOS Monterey which is due to be released by Apple later this year. 

Want to improve your email engagement? We can help!

If you would like to discuss your email campaigns further or speak to one of our specialists who can provide further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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