July 14, 2021

Attention Marketers: Apple is About to Change the Way You Do Email Marketing… And You’re Not Going to Like It

By Jonathan Ebenstein, Partner/Managing Director, Strategic Marketing

Attention Marketers: Apple is About to Change the Way You Do Email Marketing… And You’re Not Going to Like It Strategic Marketing

Apple’s recently announced iOS 15 software update, set to be released this fall, contains two privacy protection features that are going to meaningfully change email marketing.

Mail Privacy Protection

Mail Privacy Protection

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature will provide users the option to download content privately without disclosing their IP addresses. This will result in the inability to track email opens and forwards as a metric of measure. Apple will also be masking user IP addresses. This will block a sender’s ability to learn a user’s location or use the address to build user profiles.

The iOS 15’s Mail Privacy Protection feature will also block marketers’ ability to view emails opened by Apple users who have opted-in to its protection feature. Users on Android and desktop devices, however, will still be trackable.

How big of an impact this will have on your company’s email marketing will depend on what percentage of your contacts are opening your emails via Apple devices vs. desktop and android devices. To determine this, review your email service provider’s (e.g., MailChimp, HubSpot, Constant Contact) reporting metrics.

Sample E-mail Open Report in HubSpot

So far in 2021, 43% of emails have been opened on mobile devices vs. 19.4% on desktops.  Of the emails being opened on mobile devices, 90% are opened on Apple iPhones and 3.2% on Apple iPads — leaving just 6.8% to Google Android and other devices.

Top 3 Mobile Opens

The Mail Privacy Protection feature on iOS 15 is not enabled by default. To activate it, users will need to opt-in manually. This will likely reduce the feature’s activation rate, so it will be interesting to see how many people will even know to take this step. Regardless, marketers should expect to start seeing a meaningful decline in open rates and should no longer rely on them as a reliable metric.

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Hide My Email

Hide My Email is another new feature on Apple’s soon-to-be-released iOS 15. It is designed to prevent the spread of people’s email addresses across the web. The feature creates a randomized Apple-generated proxy email address in place of the user’s actual email address. Apple will then forward any emails from the proxy address to the user’s personal email account.

Hide My Email seems poised to unleash a domino effect of issues for marketers. It starts with the problem of there being no easy way to determine if a new email sign-up is a legitimate address or one randomly generated by Apple. This will likely cause deliverability problems, as subscribers may quickly delete the Apple-generated email address from their in-boxes. This will increase bounces and then potentially trigger ISPs, to potentially alter deliverability. (Reputable email service providers automatically purge “hard” bounces, removing their impact on ISPs.)

So Now What Should Email Marketers Do?

Like many marketers, you are probably wondering what you should be doing to maximize your email marketing effectiveness.

  • Determine the potential impact.
    Before doing anything, first take a look at your email metrics to see what portion of your email subscribers use Apple Mail. It may turn out to be a small fraction and, thus, will not meaningfully impact your program.
  • Understand your current engagement baseline.
    It is essential that you understand what creative and messaging best engage your audience in order to confidently continue sending email that drives engagement. To get a handle on this, start A/B testing everything (e.g., creative, messaging, timing) in order to create a baseline of what works for your future email campaigns.
  • Track click-through rates (CTR) over delivery and open rates.
    In order to set new and additional baselines to gauge future campaign success, start tracking and prioritizing click-through rates as a metric over delivered rates and open rates.
  • Focus on your lead and list quality and email sending reputation.
    Since you may no longer be able to count on open rates as an indicator of a deliverability issue, invest some time now to vet your lead quality, clean up your list hygiene, and improve on your sender reputation.
  • Keep practicing good deliverability habits.
    Important factors for maintaining good deliverability include keeping a positive email sender reputation, full email authentication, active opt-in permissioning, routine use of IP addresses and sending domains, and prompt removal of opt-outs and unknown users.
  • Stay educated.
    There is still plenty to learn about exactly how Apple will implement this new functionality.

If you’re looking for help developing and/or implementing a strategic email marketing campaign that connects with your audience, boosts website traffic and secures more qualified leads, email Jonathan Ebenstein.

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