Apple Mail privacy update? Talk to me!

Last month Apple launched the Beta version of the Mail Privacy Protection (MPP); a new privacy feature in iOS 15 and Mac OS Monterey. In short, the update gives Apple device users that are using Apple Mail more control over their data.

To help you navigate these changes, we caught up with Campaign Monitor on their webinar ‘Navigating an Evolving Privacy Environment’. Off the back of the webinar, we were able to compile some helpful tips on how to evolve your marketing strategy.

So, what is it that’s actually happening?

The update will allow Apple Mail users the ability to choose to either “Protect Mail activity” or “Don’t protect Mail activity”. If they choose to protect this will then allow them to do the following:

  • Block invisible pixels from collecting information about the user
  • Hide their IP addresses from being detected during email image loading
  • Privately load all remote content

How will this impact my email sending?

  • Open rates will become less reliable – They are likely to falsely inflate as open rates were previously based on the number of times an image is loaded. However, as part of the update, Apple Mail will now download all images when an email client is opened on a device. Because of this, there will be no way of knowing if a user has opened the email or not.
  • Geographic targeting and segmentation, based on user IP detection will become less accurate over time – This is because email opens will no longer be able to pass an IP that can be used to determine an approximate location. As a result, it will be more difficult to automatically and accurately source a subscriber’s location. We won’t know how less accurate it is until the feature is available for wider use from Apple.
  • Device and client segmentation – The update will allow users to hide their IP addresses when loading all remote content so building lists or audiences that use a device or operating system criteria will be less accurate than before. 
  • Automated journeys – Apple Mail Privacy protection is expected to ‘prefetch’ images before a user opens an email, which could incorrectly trigger an automated email if any of your automated triggers are based on opens. 

Where do we go from here?

Analytics and Measurement 

  • Update your definition of subscriber engagement and start looking beyond the open rate as your sole performance metric for your email marketing program. Try and incorporate delivery rate and click rate but ensure to use lengthier time windows to measure success.
  • Update campaigns with CTA’s, surveys or other mediums to initiate clicks where users may otherwise just browse. For instances where you’re not trying to sell anything, you’re just wanting recipients to read through the content you’ve detailed, it’s important to look for ways to drive the user to click. 
  • If you’re sending campaigns with the aim of leading people back to your website, alongside harvesting data from your email marketing provider, tools like Google Analytics are also a highly valuable source to measure success and your customer’s journey throughout the funnel.
  • Use additional identifiers to bridge gaps in conversion (phone number, social handles and loyalty IDs).

Segmentation and Targeting

  • First-party location data is going to become more valuable. Start thinking about how you can collect relevant first-party data from your subscribers i.e. language, city, time zone.
  • Review existing sign-up forms or routes from which you’re currently adding people to your mailing list. What information are you currently asking for in these? Are you currently asking for location data? If not, could you?
  • Encourage existing subscribers to provide their location.
  • Review internal data platforms (e.g. CRMs) to source location data (consent for email marketing required)

Automation and Intelligence

  • Review your existing automated journeys to determine the impact this change may have going forward. Are your current rules-based around opens? If so you may need to adjust accordingly and update your automation rule to ‘clicked’ and potentially allow for a longer time period to allow for those clicks to come through.
  • Consider a direct CTA in the subject line or message to encourage clicks

How are marketers responding to the changes?

Desta Price, Chief Product Officer, CM Group said:

“This update doesn’t mean that email marketing no longer works. When it comes to building loyalty, end-users don’t think of their interactions with your brand as a campaign or a statistic, consumers rely on email as a trusted, direct medium that delivers information, news, discounts, shopping enticement all in a mailbox that also houses critical bills, medical alerts and messages from loved ones.”

Allison Mezzafonte, Digital Media Executive and Media Advisor said:

“It’s important to remember that we’ve dealt with changes of this magnitude in the past such as GDPR, CPTA and we’ve always gotten through it. It’s forced us to adapt, be more efficient and strategic and almost made us better for it so I like to think of this as a great opportunity as an industry to improve.”

As we mentioned previously, MPP has only just been released and the industry is still trying to understand what impacts this may have on the email marketing world. However, if this past year alone has taught us anything, it’s that by remaining agile and flexible to change we can learn and plan for the unpredictable.