By now you’ve likely heard the news — Apple has dropped another bombshell on the digital marketing world. This time they’ve taken aim at email marketing. At the recent annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced Mail Privacy Protection for their Mail app on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices.
But is the update as bad as some people are making out?
What can email marketers do to prepare?
The Key Takeaways:
- Users will have the option to block email open tracking
- Users will have the option to block their IP address (paid iCloud users only)
- Users will have the option to hide their email address (paid iCloud users only)
- Now is the time for businesses to prepare for this change (see our tips below)
- This should ultimately be a positive thing for email marketing
So what is Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection?
Scheduled to hit later this year (between September and November), the Apple iOS 15 update will be giving Mail users 2 options:
1 – “Protect Mail Activity”
2 – “Don’t Protect Mail Activity”
As mentioned above, “protecting mail activity” will include turning off email open tracking and blocking their IP address. Mail users will also have the option to hide their email address.
Yep, some big changes are coming. But it’s definitely not as bad as some people are making out and some of the changes will be for paid iCloud users only.
Let’s have a closer look at some of these changes and what they will mean for businesses using email as a primary channel. The good news: quality email marketing is in no danger — but we all need to adapt.
How email marketing will be impacted by the iOS 15 updates
First up, we should point out that this feature will not be turned on by default. Apple Mail users will have to make that decision…
While people will be asked if they want to “be protected” or not — it’s highly likely that a large proportion of Mail users will select to “be protected”. Especially when we look at the numbers from Apple’s other recent privacy updates. Reports say that only 4% of people are opting in for App tracking after the iOS14 update. Yep, that means 96% are opting out!
But it’s definitely not all doom and gloom…
Is this change actually a great thing for email marketing?
Let’s not bury the sunshine — these updates are likely to give users more confidence in subscribing to marketing lists. With internet privacy becoming a greater concern for people, changes like this are inevitable and welcomed by many people all over the world.
Anything that gives users greater peace of mind that their data will be safe, is bound to be good for email as a marketing channel!
So no more email open tracking?
It’s long been one of the fundamental metrics for measuring the engagement of an email list — but email open rates are set to become less relevant. This is because all emails being sent to Mail users will be opened and loaded on an Apple proxy server before landing in your subscribers’ inboxes. This means that all emails sent to Mail app users will likely show as opened — even those that weren’t. So your open rates will appear higher than usual as Mail app open rate will be around 100%.
It’s not exactly the death of open rates but it does mean that any flows set to trigger based on email opens will need to be updated to a new trigger. You will also need to update other applications of the open rate metric — such as segmentation, list cleaning, deliverability and engagement measurement, A/B testing, and send time optimization.
In a nutshell — if you haven’t already been using metrics like unique clicks and onsite goals to track true engagement, then you need to start using those as your primary measure of success.
And no more geo-targeting your emails?
Well… just not in the same way.
Understanding what part of the world your subscribers are in is a powerful way to target the messaging and timing of your email campaigns.
For example, sending emails on each recipient’s time zone is a great way to ensure your campaign is landing in their inbox at the time of day you want.
Despite the challenges, there will still be ways to target your subscribers based on their location (even Mail app users). These include:
- Using purchase data on their profile
- And adapting your data capture strategies
What about the “Hide My Email” update
If all of this wasn’t enough, Apple has announced another feature called Hide My Email, which allows users to generate a random email address on iCloud — when filling out forms online.
This means if Mail users select this option the business asking for the email address won’t actually receive the person’s real email address. However, the good news is… you can still send email to this aliased email and Apple will redirect it to the person’s real email address.
This is another feature that will be available to paid iCloud users only.
So what should we all do about Apple’s new privacy updates?
Regardless of Apple’s big picture intentions for these updates — the fact remains, we all need to adapt and make changes in the coming months.
Short term, there are some key actions we suggest you implement:
- Clean up your lists and segments to ensure you have high engagement
- Do a deep dive on your best performing email subject lines
- Create your very own “playbook” for what your audience responds to
Longer term you want to be focusing on:
- Measuring success by things other than just open rates
Some better metrics include unique clicks and onsite “goals” such as purchases, forms completions, and time on site.
- And delivering emails that create great experiences for your subscribers
Long term people will need better incentives and more value from brands. Loyalty programs are one great way to encourage people to engage with your business and use their real contact information (so they can unify their transactions to earn points). Essentially people will be trading access to that information for loyalty points.
The silver lining
At the end of the day, email is not going anywhere and this change will give Mail users more peace of mind subscribing to your email list.
The next few months will require innovation and adaptability. Some brands may be scared away from email because of these updates. That means the brands that stick it out, and find their footing after these changes roll out, will have less competition.
Remember — if it was easy, everyone would do it.