5 minute read
Apple introduced new privacy features at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in June, and the impact they will have on email marketing is nothing short of an earthquake. The Mail app in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey will now allow users to opt-in what they are dubbing “Mail Privacy Protection,” which will effectively break the “open rate” and all of the data that traditionally comes with it. Apple’s guidance for marketers sums the changes up quite succinctly:
“If you’ve been using remote images to measure the impact of your campaigns, there are a few changes to be aware of. Since Mail content may be loaded automatically after delivery, the time of Mail viewing will no longer be correct. And since that content is loaded without revealing people’s IP addresses and without detailed headers, the location and type of device reading the Mail aren’t revealed. And you’ll see your emails as being opened, regardless of if the user read it or not.” – Apple’s privacy pillars in focus – WWDC 2021
So, once a user enables Mail Privacy Protection (and we expect close to 100% adoption), Apple will effectively download all images in every email pretty close to when it hits their servers. This will make the ‘open rate’ and the ‘time of open’ useless, as every message sent to an Apple user will show as opened when they downloaded the images. Additionally, the actual IP, device, & location will not be passed back to the sender.
It was only a matter of time until the privacy movement made it to email marketing. I have to hand it to Apple; it’s a pretty elegant approach. Instead of blocking the tracking pixels themselves, they made them useless by flooding them with inaccurate data.
Certain aspects of every email program are about to change. While the open rate itself has always been a flawed metric, it’s weaved into practically every aspect of email marketing, for better or worse. The fundamentals of email marketing are still the same with or without open rates. We don’t expect Apple to backtrack on any aspect of Mail Privacy Protection, so you should probably start getting ahead of it.
In our experience, emails opened with Mail app on Apple devices in most email programs is at least 30%-40%, and in many cases much much higher. But how many emails are delivered to those clients? They will all show as opened in the future. So we’ve put together a list of considerations you can use to start evaluating, rethinking, and re-engineering to be ready when the new OS launches on September 20, 2021:
Apple released iOS 14 on September 16th, 2020. So you should expect iOS 15 to be in a similar time frame this fall. We are only on the first beta, so the nitty gritty details of how this is all actually working will continue to get clearer with subsequent beta releases. But based on Apple’s guidance for marketers, their intent and focus is clear, so you have the time to plan accordingly and be ready for the fall.
With the upcoming death of the third-party cookie, and now the loss of IP and pixel tracking, what’s next? Brace yourselves marketers, as this is only the beginning of a long line of privacy regulations that we are likely to see take hold in the coming months and years, as consumers become increasingly aware of the data that is being collected and how that data is being used.
If you’re looking for a way around this, don’t!
Instead of being fearful of changes to privacy rules and regulations or looking for tricky ways to manipulate the system, redirect that energy into embracing the changes. Data privacy and protection laws are designed to protect users, not marketers. More focus on the true signals of intent is a good thing for marketing. My hope is that those great ideas that were killed by metrics that didn’t actually prove anything will unleash a new era of creativity. This earthquake will pass and we will build a new more sustainable future based on the true fundamentals of great marketing.
We will continue to share information as we learn more. In the meantime, we all have a lot of work to do, so we better get started.
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