iOS 15 - How will Changes in Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Affect Email Marketing ?

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by Heather Eakins

With iOS 15, it’s no longer possible to know if an Apple Mail app user opened your email.

Several email service providers will be taking initiatives to help prepare your email marketing strategy for the changes that have an impact on your open rate.

This article provides an overview of the iOS 15 update and changes in Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection.

Apple Mail will automatically open all tracking pixels. It will no longer be possible to clearly determine which emails have been opened by a human or a bot.

How does iOS 15 Mail Privacy Protection work?

When iOS 15 users open the Apple Mail app, they will see this message:

iOS 15 Mail Privacy Protection

The “Protect my email activity” option will not be enabled by default.

Once the users choose to protect their activity, Apple will download the content of the messages in the background along with the pixel/tracking code used for tracking openings, before delivering them to the recipients. What this means is that the email will be treated as having been opened, even if the recipients don’t open it.

The concern is that it will be increasingly difficult to determine which Internet user using Apple Mail has opened your emails. To be precise, all emails delivered to Apple Mail are treated as opened.

There are several drawbacks to using Mail Privacy Protection: it will be more difficult for email marketers to provide their subscribers personalized content that they want to receive, which may result in more unwanted emails.

Mail Privacy Protection changes for email marketing

Open Rate vs Click - iOS 15 Update

The open rate is important in measuring the success of an email campaign. It is also used for many functions such as automation.

Apple Mail will automatically open all tracking pixels, it will no longer be possible, unless a workaround is found, to clearly determine which emails have been opened by a human or a bot.

Note that this only applies to Apple Mail — and therefore not to subscribers using, for example, the Google Mail app on their iPhone.

Here are the main changes:

  • Openings on Apple Mail can no longer be accurately counted in the open rates
  • Automation workflows running on an “Open” trigger will no longer work for Apple Mail users
    Any segmentation based on open rate will no longer be reliable for Apple Mail users
  • Open rate-based A/B testing (such as subject line A/B testing) will no longer work for Apple Mail users
  • Geolocation features will no longer work for Apple Mail users
  • Optimizing the sending schedule will no longer be reliable for Apple Mail users

Recommendations to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing

Ask yourself if Apple Mail statistics are really important

Take a look at your stats, you might find that Apple Mail users are only a small portion of your contacts.

Furthermore, there is no reason to think that an Internet user using Apple has a totally different mindset and preferences than an Android user.

For example, if you conduct an A/B test to assess the effectiveness of an object (measuring gaps among your contacts who do not use Apple), it’s likely that the winning item will be just as effective for Apple users..

Pivot towards a strategy based on click rate

Apple Mail Privacy functionality may be just the beginning and others, like Microsoft, will soon be rolling out similar systems.

This is not that bad! To continue to effectively measure your email campaigns, all you have to do is focus on the analysis of click rate.

The click rate, even if it gives less information about your contacts’ primary interest (for example, what subject prompted them to open the email), is still the ideal tool for assessing the quality of your content. What’s the use of forcing people to open your emails if they aren’t interested in what they discover there?

Consider redesigning your automation workflows so events previously triggered by an opening are now triggered by a click. More generally, focus your KPIs and analysis on optimizing the click rate instead of the open rate.

Are you looking to automate your email campaigns? We have several successful templates in our Ultimate Resource Bundle.

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