Apple iOS 15 Email Marketing Impact: How Marketers Should Respond to Changes

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Apple iOs 15 data privacy impact on email

Just as we were wrapping our collective heads around the various updates and changes in the wake of the Apple iOS 14.5 update, here we are with the Apple iOs 15!

As usual, Apple’s WWDC 2021 scheduled to be held in September is bringing with it some interesting announcements to their mobile operating system. Some new features like SharePlay, Spatial Audio, Immersive walking instructions, and the “Memoji” are scheduled to drop. But alongside all the visible and fancy bells and whistles, it’s the invisible, behind the scenes updates that we’re really talking abut.

Launching this Fall, iOS 15 will bring some changes regarding privacy in the Apple Mail app and will arguably make us email marketer’s lives much harder.

Do note though, these changes will affect only the Apple Mail users, and not Gmail or users of other email providers using an Apple iOS 15 device like a Mac, iPad or the iPhone. (Phew, small mercies!) According to our own client data, only around 18% of the overall customer base is on Apple Mail, the impact, even though visible, will not be all overpowering, unless Gmail too follows in the footsteps of Apple and replicates the changes.

So with that out of the way, here are 2 major email related changes that will come from the iOS 15 update that will affect data on Apple Mail.

  1. Mail Privacy Protection
  2. Hide My Email

1. Apple iOS, Email Marketing, and Mail Privacy Protection

According to Apple, in the upcoming update “Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

Apple will do so by pre-loading all the content in a proxy server, including impressions and tracking pixels, making it impossible to impression track Apple Mail users.

Users can turn this feature on or off, which means not all Apple users will be untraceable.

So what does this mean? If you send an email to 10 thousand Apple Mail users, the pixel will be triggered 10 thousand times, making it seem as if 100% of them opened your email. Can you see where this is going? For instance, segmenting your list based on Open Rates will no longer be accurate, as Apple Mail users represent more than 46% of the market.

The list of things that will change for email marketers goes on and on… Running subject line tests will also no longer work as Open Rates will be inflated with fake opens. 

2. What “Hide My Email” Means for Email Marketing

hide my email

According to Apple,  Hide My Email feature will enable a customer to “Instantly generate unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox — so you don’t have to share your real email address when filling out a form on the web or signing up for a newsletter. Hide My Email is built into Mail, Safari and iCloud Settings.” This feature will not affect deliverability but  by generating a random email address, it will prevent you from seeing the real email of the customer and act as a middle man between the real email and the list your customer subscribes

How will the Apple iOS updates affect your email marketing?

1. A/B Testing Subject Lines to a percentage of the list before sending the campaign to the whole list will now
be harder due to the fact that we won’t be able to track those who opened campaigns from their iPhone and
have that feature enabled. There are ways to work around this, for example, sending the A/B Test to a list built from subscribers who don’t use Apple Mail or those who don’t have the Mail Privacy Protection enabled, and once we get the results for the best performing one, we can send it to the rest of the list.

2. Segmenting:  Since all of our audience members who are opening the campaign from Apple Mail and have the Mail Privacy
Protection enabled, we won’t know if they’ve opened our Email – it won’t be possible to segment based on
engagement levels. However, we can still use non-apple users segments. Also, we may lose additional visibility into location-based targeting efforts with this change.

This will mean we will be redefining some segments to better reach our audience.

“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith”, as Apple founder, late Steve Jobs said, we’re just going to keep the faith and deal with this too. This is all brand new to us, but for sure we’ll all adapt to this change. However, there are some steps you can take to better prepare for this big update. 

Managing iOS 15 Email Marketing Changes

1. Click rates: Make Click-rates the most important metric: Now with Open Rates being redundant, you’re going to rely on Click Rates as a reliable metric on your email performance.

2. Alternative ways to test Subject Lines: In the wake of the iOS 15 update, new tools and apps like Phrasee have sprung up to give you ways to optimize subject lines with a more holistic look at engagement metrics to determine the winning split (essentially creating a new metric to quantify quality).

3. Collect more information: Collect as much information as you can in the sign-up form, including location, as location-based emails won’t work anymore. The more info you collect here, the less you’ll have to rely on email interaction data. 

4. Find new ways of engaging with your customers.  Clicks on your emails are now more important than ever before. Ask them how often they want to hear from you, or what kind of content they want to read and segment accordingly.

5. Consent is key: Make sure you’re only sending emails to people who have actively opted in. Every now and then give your customers a chance to unsubscribe from your list. This may seem counterintuitive, but by doing so you’re making sure your emails are going out to people who actually want to receive them.

6. Monitor Deliverability: Check your deliverability’s health at least once per month. GlockApps will give you great insights into your email deliverability, reputation, authentication, and DMARC compliance.

These are new times for all of us email marketers and with new times comes some level of uncertainty. However, we see this as an opportunity to learn and adapt, go even deeper into segmentation, brainstorm solutions, and get one step closer to our true and real audience.

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