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What Does Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Mean for Marketers?

With Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection, marketers can no longer track engagement metrics accurately. We explore some solutions here ...

Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection update has been the talk around marketers. Typically, targeted marketing based on the customer’s location is crucial in improving a customer’s experience through an email marketing campaign. However, the new privacy protection of Apple no longer allows invisible pixels to land in the user’s mailbox. While this new policy may seem like a hindrance to carry out marketing campaigns, there definitely are alternatives available.

The Buzz Behind Apple’s New Mail Privacy Protection

Apply will be launching their mail protection policy sometime between September and November of 2021. This would impact iOS 15, macOS Monterey devices, watchOS 8, and iPadOS 15. The new feature would help users gain better data control over their information while also managing access to their data. With the new privacy policies that Apple would enforce, marketers would have to change how they send an email abiding by these policies.

What’s New?

Apple is known for its privacy leadership. The critical advancement in Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection is data protection from third parties. This helps users stay protected and make informed decisions about how their data is shared and used.

This data protection essentially stops senders from using invisible pixels in emails. These pixels collect different kinds of information about the user. In addition, this feature would not allow senders to know when the users are opening their emails. It also masks the user’s IP address such that the address cannot be linked to other activities on the internet along with their location. This would help users maintain their privacy and the use of their data. However, marketers would have to deal with a lack of data to improve personalization for users. 

Here’s how it works for Apple Mail users. Once launched, users will be prompted regarding their priority for being protected from third-party activity. If the users choose the “Protect Mail Activity” option, Apple Mail will load the remote control privately and will hide the IP address. This option would not be checked by default leaving the user to make a choice actively.

How is the User’s Experience Altered?

While Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection can enable users to gain control over the use of their data, it may have a few drawbacks. One of the significant inconveniences is that users can end up having more unwanted emails in their inboxes. Typically, the open rates of emails are used to analyze the prospect’s engagement levels. As the activity of open rates can then be hidden, it is more likely for users to have unnecessary emails in their inboxes.

Further, the loss of pixel tracking only worsens the experience of the subscriber. Pixel tracking data has plenty of value when it comes to subscriber engagement. It provides plenty of insights into the subscriber engagement level that further help in triggered messaging, personalization, and dynamic content. When pixel tracking is used appropriately, it can boost value and relevance. On the other hand, a lack of pixel tracking can lead to a degraded user experience.

Effect of Apple’s Policy on Marketers

Privacy has been an extensive and ongoing issue across several sectors. One of the key privacy issues has been the unauthorized sharing of user data. While access to pixel information not only improves personalization, it also enhances the entire experience of the user. Essentially, marketers would no longer be able to track the open rates of emails and develop content based on the user’s location. This would cause a downfall in the personalization arena, making it more difficult for marketers to send out campaigns and messages relevant to the user.

Here are some of the areas where marketers may face challenges due to Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection.

  • Real-time Personalization

Many marketers use dynamic email content depending on the location of the user while opening the email. This improves the relevance of emails to the users. However, real-time personalization can no longer be performed as tracking pixels are no longer on Apple Mail. This can greatly affect marketing activities as nearly 6 in 10 marketers believe that boosting email personalization is a top priority.

  • Email Testing

Open rates are used as one of the leading indicators to test the performance of emails. Without accurate open rates, the email testing process cannot be accurate either.

  • Email Performance Tracking

Apple Mail no longer provides accurate open rates, thereby making the process of performance tracking challenging. Instead, marketers would have to shift their focus to other alternative metrics such as conversions and click-through rates to gauge the success of a campaign.

  • Campaigns based on Open Metrics

To line up the previous email, the open rates of the previous emails, such as an onboarding email or a re-engagement email, are measured. As open rates would be affected, lining up the following email accurately can be a challenge. 

  • Email Lists Cleaning

Segmenting users based on open rates cannot continue to be a norm for Apple Mail users. Email health strategies and other policies for ensuring a clean list of emails can no longer be used.

Here’s the Solution to Optimize Email Results

The inaccuracy in open rates can result in the most extensive impact on marketers. Here are some ways email marketers can continue to send out successful campaigns to users while also ensuring a good user experience.

1. Increase the Width of Performance Analytics

While open rates have been the key player of positive email performance analytics, tracking negative performance metrics such as spams and unsubscribes can provide more accurate insights. 

Marketers can also leverage Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection to focus on the customer’s lifetime value. Tracking customer metrics beyond emails such as website visits, offline purchases, SMS engagement, and app engagement can help accelerate the process.

2. Maintain a ‘Reliable Opens’ Audience

As the open rates would be affected due to Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection, create a list of non-Apple email users instead. This would help marketers gauge the performance of the email campaign and make suitable changes accordingly. This audience can be used for email testing as the overall open rate can be measured accurately.

3. Increase Engagement Metrics

Emails are one of the most lucrative forms of marketing. Email click rate is the key to measure email performance and has been the driving factor that eagles marketers to make the right decisions.

As Apple Mail shows inaccurate open rates, it can be smart to explore other channels and engagement metrics. Some of the other metrics are SMS engagement, activity on the mobile app, website activity, offline purchases, and account activity. While non-email metrics have their drawbacks, they are the best alternative to working with inaccurate email open rates.

4. Curate New Trigger Thresholds

After the calculation of user engagement, the best threshold trigger has to be determined to launch a re-engagement campaign. The most accurate way to assess trigger thresholds can be by matching the threshold of the new model to the existing open-rate-based model. 

5. Use Live Content ROI

There is a high chance for Apple warning to make live content seem risky, irrespective of how relevant and engaging the content may be. So, identify customers who use Apple email and replace live content with static fallback images to avoid any mishap. 

In a Nutshell

Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection improves the data protection of the users. With the new privacy protection for Apple users, marketers would have to lean towards alternative engagement metrics to ensure successful email campaigns. While this may not be convenient for marketers, email marketing is still looking good. The technology around marketing continues to evolve and can help drive better email campaigns.

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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