Apple's iOS updates related to privacy will have a major impact on a variety of marketing efforts including Facebook Ads and now email. The latest iOS 15 update is a big win for customer privacy, but will impact business' email marketing efforts.
A History Lesson on Email Stats
Email providers have historically collected information via pixels. A pixel was fired to collect opens, IP address, location and more. With Apple's latest updates, Apple Mail users will need to opt in to allow for collection of this information.
What does this mean for the future of email?
Two major impacts can be expected from the latest privacy updates.
- Email opens will become irrelevant
- IP addresses will be hidden
A standard metric for determining success of an email blast has traditionally been open rate. However, Apple Mail app users will now have their images pre-downloaded on all messages, including the pixel we once relied on for tracking opens. This will obscure who has actually opened the email and who hasn't, thus your open rate will be wildly inflated. It's estimated that, on average, 40% of subscribers use the Apple Mail app, so this will have a major impact on your stats. End result: Open rate and open totals will no longer be reliable metrics to judge email send performance.
Apple is also making it basically impossible for email senders to track the IP address of a recipient. While that initially sounds good, this means the location of your email recipient is no longer known. This impacts businesses who relied on IP for sending emails based on timezone or nearest store location or product recommendations based on weather in their location. End result: Additional list segmentation will be needed to determine location.
How should your email marketing tactics change with these new privacy protections?
- Automated campaigns should move away from "opens" as their segmentation method.
- Adjust emails that were reliant upon location, if you were previously using IP to determine their location or acquire additional information from the user to store for these purposes.
- Audit reporting to not put a heavy emphasis on open rates, rely on other metrics like clicks, purchases, opt outs, etc. to determine success.
- Track customer interactions in other ways, especially onsite interactions to focus your marketing efforts on more reliable tracking metrics.
Overall, email is still a worthwhile strategy - you just need to change your view of the metrics. While only Apple has taken steps towards a more proactive privacy protection for its users, it's only a matter of time before others follow suit. Get a plan in place now so that you're prepared when email platforms stop reporting on opens altogether.
Read the Apple Press Release on iOS 15 privacy updates.