Understanding Apple’s new privacy feature and what it means for you and your email marketing
What is Apple Mail Privacy Protection?Apple recently announced a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection for its Mail app. This update for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8 will prevent email senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user, such as when they open an email, and masks the user’s IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.
To protect customer privacy, iOS 15 and Apple Mail will preload images in emails, including tracking pixels, which are commonly used by marketers to track email opens. Because this is also how Retention Science tracks email opens, this update may affect the accuracy of your email reporting, as we won’t be able to reliably determine which contacts opened which emails when using Apple Mail. This includes anyone who checks their email on the Mail app, no matter which email domain they use (such as Gmail and Yahoo). As a result, it may inflate your email’s open rate and, consequently, lower the click-through rate shown in your reporting.
What does it mean for you?
In addition to email reporting, some other Retention Science features may be impacted:
- Paths - If you set up a Path to send when a contact opens a specific email, all contacts who use Apple Mail will trigger the series and be added to the queue to receive the emails, whether they actually open the email or not. Consider setting up your series to send when a contact clicks on a link instead, rather than when they open it.
- Automated Lifecycle Stages - Opens are just one of several signals used to determine Churn Scores and Lifecycle stages. Our Data Science team expects there to be minimal impact to our decisioning engine and the stages will still function as intended.
- Microscope - For all contacts who use Apple Mail, Email History / Activity / User Actions will indicate that a user has opened an email whether they actually opened it or not.
- Automated/Manual Segments - If you create a segment or leverage ReSci's Smart Segments in your campaigns, these segments may include some contacts who don’t actually fit the criteria. Create custom segments of your contacts based on their click or purchase behavior instead.
How Apple Mail Privacy is impacting your marketing
Over the last few months since the release of iOS15, on September 20, 2021, we've been monitoring our reporting and performance and have discovered the following:
- While open rates have been affected as we expected, a thorough investigation has confirmed that impacts are limited to open rates.
- One key finding is that email send interval/time optimizations are not being affected. Since send interval/time optimizations also predict when a user is most likely to convert, they use multiple data points beyond email opens, therefore preserving the efficacy of the optimization.
- Likewise, the privacy update is not affecting our A.I. Models or recommendations. ReSci's data science models track factors that lead to conversion, like website activity, not simply open rates.
What can you do about it?Email is still an effective channel for communicating with your audience. While you may have looked at your open rate as the key metric of success for your campaigns, it’s more important to focus on email engagement, like clicks, instead. The purpose of your emails is to drive contacts to take a specific action, such as visiting your website, placing an order, signing up for an event, etc. Even if someone opens your email, it doesn’t mean they’re taking that desired action and engaging with your content the way you want.
Focus on creating more personalized content for your contacts and including clear calls-to-action to help increase engagement and improve your click-through rates. However, don’t forget about your subject lines! While your open rates may not be as accurate once this privacy change takes effect, good subject lines will still be an important piece of your email marketing. Be sure to take advantage of A/B subject line testing now to help learn what kind of subject lines resonate with your audience.