Indeed, these updated operating systems do have a tendency of bringing with them many new features for the consumer, among which are those focused on privacy. Leading the way in privacy protection, Apple are introducing new features which help users have more granular control and monitor the use and access of their data.
What does this mean?
The privacy protection features will have a large impact on email marketing, with the two key features being;
- Mail Privacy Protection ensures that any emails received on ISPs connected with Apple Mail client will automatically be marked open, even if the recipient doesn’t click on it. Therefore, senders will be prevented from seeing if, when and from which device you opened their email. Furthermore, the feature masks your IP address, ensuring that senders will not be able to view your online activity or physical location.
- Users who sign up for the ICloud+ monthly subscription will be able to benefit from Hide My Email feature, giving them control on who will be able to contact them directly. The feature allows them to keep their personal address private and generate a random, unique email address when registering or subscribing to sites. These email are then forwarded to their personal inbox.
Litmus, an email marketing testing and analytics tool, analysed over 12 billion email opens worldwide, covering the year 2020, to see where subscribers are accessing from. In detail, the report returned that approximately 34.2% open emails on Apple iPhone, 10.4% open on Apple Mail (Mac) and 1.7% open on Apple IPad, therefore Apple controlled approximately 46% of combined email opens during that year.
In a later article, Litmus announced that for the year 2021, covering the period until end of August, this has since grown to 49.8%.
How does this impact your email marketing strategy and metrics?
It can be assumed that the majority of users will opt for Mail Privacy Protection. Therefore, the following impacts will need to be taken into consideration going forward;
- Invisible tracking pixels, which track whether an email has been opened or not, will be automatically loaded in the background for most emails. Therefore, users will have appeared to open the email without having clicked on it. Thus, depending on the number of Apple Mail users in your database, a significant increase in open rate will likely be seen.
- Hidden IP address will prevent senders from determining a users online activity and habits, as well as their location.
- The Hide My Email feature will prevent senders from identifying a specific user, which likely means that the number of duplicates within databases will grow. Therefore, deduplication and a consent management strategy will be important to consider.
- Re-activation / re-engagement emails
- A/B testing on open time
- Send time optimisation
- Delivery monitoring and inbox placement
- Location based content
- Subscriber segmentation
What can I do?
- Expand your engagement metrics to measure click-through rate, conversion rate, social-sharing and/or email-sharing rate instead of open or click-to-open rates.
- Run re-confirmation campaigns asking users whether they wish to continue to receive email communications and newsletters. Take it a step further and allow users to identify what type of emails they wish to receive via a preference-centre.
- Adopt an omni-channel strategy and communicate with your subscribers via alternative methods such as web-push or app-push notifications, SMS, voice, etc. You can also use these channels to re-confirm email engagement.
- Review your audience and segment your Apple Mail audience based on click-rates or other non-open rate metrics.
- Ensure your email automation campaigns execute off time-based or click-based triggers such as birthdate or anniversary date, abandon cart, etc.
- Review the content within emails and instead of providing key information within the email motivate users with teaser content, inspiring them to click the Read More button which takes them to the main article or page. Also, remember to add your call-to-action (CTA) button above the fold.
- If your digital marketing platform supports it, adopt the use of interactive email features, which gives all your subscribers the possibility to interact with surveys or polls directly within the email.
While these policies might not be ideal for the email marketer, the good news is that email marketing is still recognised as one of the highest return-of-investment forms of marketing and drives better sales than social media marketing.
Therefore, to summarize, the first step is to analyze the size of your Apple Mail database, identify which marketing strategies need to be changed for this audience and reconsider the way you will measure email marketing success going forward.
- Apple press release, Apple advances its privacy leadership with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8, June 2021.
- Salesforce 360 blog, Apple’s Privacy Changes Will Force Marketers to Innovate, Aug 2021.