How to Mitigate the Impact of Apple’s New Privacy Initiatives on Email Marketing

4 min read
3-Aug-2021 9:23:39 AM

All is not lost. Evolve your content and metrics to meet the challenge.

Privacy is top-of-mind today, as tech companies like Google and Apple try to find a balance between protecting personal information without negatively impacting marketers. They aren’t always successful at this juggling act, which means marketers must adjust their strategy, and importantly, their metrics.

Open rates are often a key metric, measuring engagement over time. High open rates mean something worked to get folks to open your email, whether that’s your clever subject line, the time the email was sent, or you have strongly loyal customers who look forward to your emails. Of course, low open rates mean just the opposite.

Now Apple has thrown another obstacle into the path of marketers with features added to iOS15, due for release this fall. It’s important to look at these new developments as both a taste of things to come and an opportunity to evolve your email metrics.

New privacy features in Apple’s iOS15

These new privacy features won’t affect every email recipient, of course, but it will impact those who use the operating systems iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8.

These new privacy features include

Protection from third-party data mining. This affects both the mail app and Safari:

  • In the Mail app, new privacy protection prevents marketers from using invisible pixels to collect information. This means marketers will no longer know when an email is opened, while IP address masking means it can’t be linked to other users' online activity or location.
  • Formerly, Intelligent Tracking Prevention kept trackers at bay on Safari while still allowing a normal website experience. The new privacy update strengthens this protection by masking the user’s IP address.

iCloud+. This is a subscription service that offers new privacy features:

  • Private Relay: When using Safari, Private Relay encrypts all traffic leaving a user’s device, preventing marketers and others from tracking users, even those who opt-in, and allows users to see which websites information is sent to.
  • Hide My Email is a cloaking feature that lets users give random email addresses that forward to their inbox when they want to keep their personal email address private. Users can create and delete as many addresses as they need at any time.

Paid features may not have much impact on marketers, but mail privacy protection can impact the tracking of open rates and A/B email testing. 

While these changes might seem daunting, it likely will be a positive change from a user experience standpoint. Consumers want privacy and personalization, targeted content and engaging messaging.

This means marketers should focus more on creating relevant content that drives action instead of messing around with headline options to see if they get someone to open and email. 

Circumnavigating the challenges of Apple’s privacy changes

These new privacy protections may seem daunting, but challenges always inspire innovation, so let’s talk about some strategies that provide both a change to how we look at open rate metrics and alternative measurements.

Keep watching for updates as things evolve – we’ll keep you posted! Now, on the tips:

One thing to remember is that these changes won’t impact every email recipient.

Apple’s Mail app comprises more than 35% of global email market share, which leaves the other 65% to email providers like Google and Microsoft. These companies might add similar protections, but in the meantime, you’ll still be able to get open data from them, and can use this to make some determination of the success of opens. 

Adjust your open-rate goals.

Take a fresh look at your low, average, and high open rates. Measurement of open rates isn't going away, but with part of your audience untrackable, it’s time to make a change. How many opens do you usually get from iOS users and how do you think they will change after the Fall rollout. Think about tracking your open rates for a couple of months after the rollout to gather hard data to determine new averages. 

Embrace and then leverage other email data

The open rate is just one of a number of email marketing datasets you can use to determine success. Consider the following:

  • Click and click-through rates of links. The number of clicks and click-through rates on links to content like blogs, product pages, offers insights on how many or how often readers engaged with and clicked on your content links.
  • Measure site traffic. Using Hubspot or tracking URLs, determine how much traffic entered your website from a single email, or which content pieces sent the most visitors.
  • Clickmaps. Hubspot lets you see which content link was clicked on the most, as well as the least.
  • Is your unsubscribe rate spiking? Take a good look at your content, email frequency, and the rest of your strategy to figure out what caused the spike.
  • Use surveys, polls, or quizzes. While not a metric, these provide a great way to learn more about subscriber interests, what they like, what they don’t like, and what they would like to see more (or less) of.

While leveraging these KPI’s, also use benchmark reports and email tools to compare your email rates to those of your competitors. Hubspot provides an email health tool which tells you the overall open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, and hard bounce rate. You’ll also get recommendations on how to improve your deliverability and performance.

Adjusting your marketing for a more private world

It’s unlikely that Apple’s privacy initiatives are going to be the last. This means that digital marketers must evolve to rise to the challenges using innovative strategies to continue to meet and engage prospects and target audiences.

Create great,super-relevant content, learn from KPI’s other than open rates, and brainstorm other ways to get to know your email subscribers.

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