Apple announced a major privacy initiative at its annual developer conference that raised eyebrows and lots of questions. The feature called Mail Privacy Protection will be available on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and macOS Monterey devices. It will stop senders from using embedded html pixels to collect information about email receivers. If this privacy option is widely accepted by Apple users it could significantly impact open rates and engagement related functions of email marketers.
What we know so far
Apple Mail app users will receive a message giving them the option to protect their mail activity. Users that opt in can view emails without being tracked. The technical specifications to block the embedded tracking pixel within html emails is unclear, but this action will reportedly prevent senders from tracking open activity as well as the recipients’ IP address.
How will Mail Privacy Protection impact email marketers?
According to Litmus Apple mail and other iOS devices accounted for 46% of opened emails in 2020, so the impact on open data will be significant, particularly for workflow automation that are structured to deploy mail to recent openers. While open data is valuable, these changes made by Apple only impact what you can detect. The privacy protection will not affect your reputation as a sender. Legitimate senders have nothing to fear if they adhere to best practice and ensure that all email receivers explicitly opt-in to receive their content.
What can marketers do in lieu of this new privacy initiative?
Click tracking will still be quite useful to measure contact engagement. This is really the bread and butter for many email marketers in respect to conversion tracking. In addition to this, our deliverability services offer inbox placement tests that enable senders to identify where their mail lands in a number of top ISPs and mailbox providers, including Apple.
While these changes come as a surprise to some, we are confident that it will only strengthen the email marketing channel for legitimate senders. Email not only survived the rise of social media, SMS marketing, rigorous content filters and Google tab placement, it thrived through these innovations as a marketing channel with the greatest marketing ROI.
In respect to technical processes, to prepare for Apple data changes we suggest the following:
- Test message content including subject lines and templates – Discover the content and subject lines that are most effective. Continue deploying campaigns to drive up engagement.
- Segment Apple/iCloud domains to identify Opens – While this data is still accurately accessible, consider segmenting based on recent opens (within 6 months). This data can be used to enhance your sender reputation with Apple.
- Retool Workflow Automation – If your workflows are sent to trigger mail based on opens, determine how much of your audience uses Apple mail. For some this may not be a factor at all. For others you will likely want to send mail to some percentage of Apple contacts.
There are a variety of features offered in this new privacy update ranging from an app privacy report that enables users to see how each app uses their information, a private relay encryption allowing users to mask their IP address when browsing online, to a Hide My Email feature which lets users create random email addresses that forward mail to their personal inbox.