How to prepare for Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

What’s next for email marketing following Apple’s Privacy update?

As of September 20, 2021, Apple released their latest operating systems: iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS Monterey. With these updates, many users will start using Apple’s latest Mail Privacy Protection feature, which you may have already read about and anticipated over the past few months.  

Based on these new privacy-protection features, we have pulled together some recommendations that will enable you to prepare and plan for a more “private” future. It’s clear that with other privacy changes on the horizon, this is a growing trend and something marketers need to prioritize. 

What is the Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

From 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.”  

Users who have iOS 15-enabled Apple devices and the Mail app will see a prompt to opt-in to Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature. Following opt-in (which is set by default), Apple will hide your IP address from the sender. It appears from testing that any subsequent emails sent to a recipient using Apple Mail will be routed through a proxy server to preload the message content (including tracking pixels in the email) before the recipient has opened the email.  

Pre-loading the message content will appear to the sender as though the recipient has opened the email – whether they have opened it or not. For those who have, you will not be able to see the time, device, or location in which they did so. This increase in open rate (OR) will, in turn, skew any open-rate data you have in your database (related to Apple Mail clients).  

How can I make sure my email marketing metrics are still effective?

These privacy changes are not signaling the end of the OR. They are merely a stepping stone for the industry to start shifting away from OR as a key metric in their marketing toolbox. With privacy continuing to evolve and other players inevitably going this way in the future, the time is now to start revamping how you measure engagement. Here are some quick tactics that will help you get started: 

Start getting more comfortable with click-through rate (CTR)

  • If you’re not already, start measuring and reporting out on your click-through rate (CTR). It’s a powerful metric that clearly shows an email’s engagement and how that user is interacting with your content.  
  • Ensure your email campaigns have strong calls to action (CTAs) to help drive your CTRs for each campaign. Keep the CTA above the fold to prevent too much scrolling and use compelling offers and visuals to help keep the recipient engaged.  
  • Use personalization techniques to focus your message on different audiences. Use dynamic content in your emails to display relevant content to each subscriber and tailor messaging based on criteria in each profile. The more personal you get, the better engagement you’ll see.  

Update any email automations, nurture campaigns, or campaign journeys

  • Using open rate to determine when to resend or trigger a new email send in journeys or automations is common and can work well for drip or nurture campaigns. However, with the potential for skewed open-rate data, we could see many of these automations fail to send due to false reads of email opens.   
  • It’s far safer to update your nurture campaigns and journeys to trigger sends based on click-throughs instead of opens. It will encourage you to refine your message and enhance any CTAs you have. 

Rethink how you A/B test criteria in emails

  • If you’re testing subject lines, CTAs, images, and titles in your emails, that’s great! You’re doing the right thing. However, to ensure you measure success in the right way, set the identifier for winning emails to look at CTR instead of open rate. 

Look at other metrics outside of the usual OR and CTR

  • Look at your booking conversion rate from each campaign 
  • Measure list growth  
  • Measure unsubscribes   
  • Build reports that allow you to track data MoM, QoQ, and YoY 

How is Cendyn responding to Apple Mail Privacy?

Since the announcement earlier in 2021, the team has been hard at work to investigate the coming changes to help determine how we can enhance our products and technology, which will ensure you have the utmost accuracy when it comes to email marketing engagement metrics. We are deep in research to see how we can adjust our algorithms to factor in for skewed data via Apple Mail clients — this includes our booking conversion-rate metrics and open rates. We will keep you updated as and when we learn more from this research and how it will impact your email marketing activity. 


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