apple mail privacy protection

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is Coming: How to Prepare

In early June, Apple announced a variety of privacy protections that will be available for iOS 15 updates this fall. Among those protections is the Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) function that is causing email marketers to worry.

Mail Privacy Protection is an opt-in feature of iOS 15 that allows users to hide their IP address and privately load the content of any email they receive through the Apple Mail app.

Doesn’t seem so bad, does it? A little privacy never hurt an email marketer, right?

Wrong, unfortunately. Email senders capture open data through an “open pixel” that is within the content of the email. If a user opens this content privately, marketers will be unable to determine when, or even if, it happened. Every email you send to Apple Mail will appear as “opened,” and location and open time will not be available.

But think about it, a 100% open rate! An email marketer’s wildest dream! Your client/superior will be drooling over those reports, at least until they hear the reason behind them. Some believe that the open rate will be inflated to a percentage closer to 75%.

Who iOS 15 Privacy Updates Affect

The technology hasn’t rolled out quite yet, so all of the effects are still unknown. However, MPP will affect those that update their device to iOS 15 AND opt in to the feature — this includes any email address option if it is connected to the Apple Mail app.

When a user opens their Apple Mail app for the first time after the iOS 15 update, a prompt will appear that asks users if they want to enable Mail Privacy Protection.

Experts believe that around 95% of Apple Mail users will opt in to the protection. This is based on a percentage of users that opted in to Apple’s “block ad tracking” feature that coincided with iOS 14.5’s launch.

And if you are hoping that no one uses Apple devices or Apple Mail … well, nearly 50% of email opens were from Apple devices or from Apple Mail users in 2020, according to Litmus Email Client Market Share. Darn.

What marketers should do to prepare for iOS 15

While open rates are key indicators for many marketing professionals, they are not the end all be all. After all, other KPIs like clicks, conversions, and completed forms deliver more detailed information regarding a recipient’s interest. This may require marketers to simply get more creative, so follow these tips:

  • Test users prior to the iOS 15 launch to nail down which of your strategies enhance open rate, then keep those results nearby for confident emails post-iOS 15.
  • Communicate with clients to warn them of the open rate fluctuations and to tailor reporting in a more challenging way.
  • Consider breaking ties with recipients that are consistent “non-openers.” This might be your final chance to detect them.
  • Break down your audience into segments of Apple Mail and non-Apple Mail users now. This will allow you to notice the differences in open rates now before it’s too late.
  • Don’t reinvent the email marketing wheel. A change in open-rate metrics does nothing to change your content strategy. Utilize the key strategies that make a quality email marketing campaign.

It’s all going to be OK

Perhaps the best advice I can give is to calm down. This might feel like a blow to perhaps your favorite KPI, but marketing will innovate and survive. In fact, it has to innovate to survive.

While Apple may have stymied your ability to track performance in one area, it can’t stop you from performing in that area. As Braveheart once said, “They may take away our open data, but they’ll never take our click-through rate.” At least not yet.

Check out our email marketing options if you are looking for an experienced group to deal with industry shifts like this one.