What You Need to Know About the Apple Mail Privacy Protection Update

If the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s that we need to roll with new changes. The email marketing industry is about to experience some changes to the way Apple mail allows marketers to track opens. So, email marketers need to understand how Apple’s announcement for the Mail Privacy Protection will impact email marketing practices and statistics.

We’d like to help you understand these changes and what it’ll mean for your email marketing strategy. Here’s a helpful summary about the privacy updates, which will probably evolve as we learn more.

So, What’s Changing?

Apple announced their Mail Privacy Protection will launch with their iOS 15 update. This will help users better control access to their data through new privacy protections in their Mail app on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices.

According to Apple, “In the Mail app, 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.”

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. In short, they’ll give users the option to mask their open and click behavior.

These changes are currently expected to launch this fall at the end of September. They will affect your email marketing statistics regardless of your email marketing platform.

Why is Apple Doing This?

Apple has long held the belief that privacy is a fundamental human right. Apple initiated these types of changes in email last year when they launched the Private Email Relay service which allows users to sign into apps with an anonymous, unique email address. We’ve also seen the demise of third-party cookies in the advertising industry, including on Apple’s Safari. So, it’s consistent behavior that Apple would lean into privacy on open tracking too.

Will This Affect My Audience?

Apple’s mail app clients account for almost 40% of opens and clicks, according to a recent 2021 Benchmark report. So, this update will affect 2 in 5 subscribers on average.

To see the extent of the impact on your specific group of subscribers, you’ll need to check how many subscribers currently open with Apple’s mail app or iOS devices. Critical Impact clients can run a report which will show you the percentage of opens and clicks which came from an iOS device or Apple Mail App. Run this report today, to learn more about your current subscriber behavior.

As you’re taking a look at your current lists, it’s important to note that these changes will not just apply to icloud.com email addresses. The mail service doesn’t matter here. The endpoint of where the email is opened is what’s important. If an email is opened on the Mail app on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey devices, it will have the option to not be tracked via the user privacy selection.

What Does This Mean for Email Marketing?

Beta testing shows that Apple is preloading images for the emails sent to their mail app. This means that any tracking pixels used to track opens will be downloaded, and count as false opens for all recipients using the Apple Mail App. Most likely, reporting will show an inflated number of opens and increased open rates. They’ll likely disguise the preloading so it’s not possible to discern these false opens from real ones.

However, click tracking shouldn’t be dramatically affected. The IP location of the click may be disguised, but it doesn’t look like they will be falsely clicking any links.

Additionally, the end goal of email marketing is still to attain real results, instead of simply getting a high open rate. So, you can still focus on reaching new audiences, increasing revenue, and retaining customers.

Actionable Steps to Take Today

1) Update List Hygiene Routine

Take a look at your list hygiene routine. Some marketers clean their lists routinely by removing subscribers who haven’t opened anything in a while. If you are using opens to measure subscriber quality, pull this data now so you can have an accurate list of subscribers who have opened or haven’t opened emails before the change. Then moving forward, you’ll need to update this strategy to use a different metric, like clicks.

List Segmentation

2) Add Security to Sign Up Forms

To help your list quality, it’ll be more important than ever to add security checks to your sign up forms. For example, you can add more security to your opt-in process with double opt-in or Google reCAPTCHA. This will make sure your new subscribers are authentic before being added to your lists.

3) Check Existing Automations

Do you have any automations currently running? If so, take a look at any open-related logic such as “send a message to those subscribers who have opened the previous message.” You’ll need to update these rules to not depend on open behavior. Perhaps you can use click interactions or other preferences to trigger future messages instead.

Drip Campaign

We hope you’ve learned something new about the upcoming changes. We’ll continue to give updates as we learn more. We’re always here to help.

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