How Apple’s iOS 15 Privacy Feature will Fudge Up Your Email Open Rate Data & Why You Should Care

Internet and E-Mail Security Concept on Black Digital Screen

In this vast and ever-changing world of technology, gobs of email service providers (ESP) exist. The most common include Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, and Yahoo. And there are even some AOL users still out there. And come September 15, 2021, Apple will throw us all a curveball.

But Before we Tackle Apple, Let’s Start with a Little Email Context

As far as who uses what ESP, it’s a combination of the device (desktop or mobile – such as a phone or tablet), if it’s for business or personal use, as well as personal preference.

For example, my professional career started as a graphic designer, and I was weened on Apple products and Apple Mail. To this day, I still own an iMac and a MacBook. However, after a few iPhones, I was coerced to the “dark side” and gave Androids a try. I liked the features better (particularly the camera) and have never looked back. As a result, I embraced Gmail as my ESP. Doing so made sense since, as a company, we started using other Google Cloud-based products available in Google Drive.

And if you’re curious, my current phone is a Samsung Z-Fold. Very cool! But I digress.

Although unnecessary, most mobile device users align their email service provider with their operating system. For example, if you have an Apple iPhone, you use Apple Mail to send and receive emails more than likely. These run off of your mobile operating system — Apple iOS.

The Evolving Operating System

Operating systems have evolved from slow and expensive to extremely fast and relatively inexpensive. As technology and user needs evolve, so make the demands of the operating system. But, of course, competition over market share plays a significant role too. Apple iOS is the second-most popular mobile operating system, second only to Android.

In today’s privacy-driven climate, operating systems are empowering users to be the master of their domain — to control their user preferences, including locking down their data.

Privacy please sign on hotel door

Privacy is a Good Thing, But…

On September 15, 2021, Apple Mail will allow users to opt in to mail privacy features that mask IP addresses and block third parties from tracking email opens or other IP data.

As a user, this sounds good. But as a business trying to market your services to end-users, this isn’t good. Add this to Google’s recent ban of third-party cookies and a widespread crackdown on data privacy across the board, and it’s making it harder and harder to reach your target audience.

How Will the Privacy Feature Affect my Email Marketing?

As part of your overall content marketing strategy, email marketing delivers the highest return on investment (ROI) across all acquisition channels year over year. That includes organic and direct search, paid ads, social media, events, and even referrals.

That’s why it’s essential to pay attention to your data analytics and ways to enhance your email marketing efforts for even greater ROI. For example, when an email campaign open rate is high or low, it provides valuable insight such as:

  • How well your subject line is attracting readers
  • How well your preview text is clarifying the content of your email
  • How well your send day and time are engaging your audience

With the email privacy feature turned on will impact the tracking of open rates and email-based A/B testing, making it more challenging to know what’s working and what isn’t. In addition, since Apple Mail and Apple mobile devices make up over 35% of the email provider market share globally, it will likely impact your email open rate data.

Given Apple’s changes, email marketers will need to create highly relevant content that drives the target audience to take action. That means putting more emphasis on persona-based segmentation and personalization at all stages of the customer journey.

What Should You Do in Response?

While the privacy crackdown will be challenging to navigate around, all is not lost. 

First, this change won’t impact all email readers. The other 65% of non-Apple Mail users will remain unchanged.

Email Sender Benchmarks

Second, by pulling a report before September 15 and benchmarking our data, you can adjust your goals accordingly and set new expectations with your team.

Lastly, don’t forget about all of the other email key performance indicators (KPIs) that can shed valuable insight. For example, clicks and click-through rates pulled from linked text and images that drive traffic to your blog or website let you know what readers are interested in and how best to nurture them through the buying process. With software like HubSpot, or the use of tracking URLs, you can determine how much traffic came to your website from each email you send – or which pieces of content sent the most visitors to your site.

The More You Know, The More You Can Grow

Technology and privacy laws will continue to evolve and present challenges to marketers. But instead of throwing up your hands and saying, “Oh well,” it’s best to stay informed and focus less on gimmicks and tricks to teasing out opens. Instead, spend your time productively and focus on understanding your target audience — what they think, what they feel, what they need, what they want, and what you can offer them, even if it’s not what you sell or what will make you money right now.

I know, I know…it’s a crazy thought. But by being patient and providing valuable content, you will earn their trust, earn their email inbox, and ultimately earn their business. If you need help, give us a call. 

About Incite Creative, Inc.: Incite Creative is a marketing advisory firm that works in an outsourced capacity. In short, we become your company’s chief marketing officer (CMO) and do so virtually and efficiently — saving you time and money. Since 1999 we’ve had the pleasure of building and boosting brands for a core set of industries. Our thoughtful process, experienced team, and vested interest in our client’s success have positioned us as one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most sought-after marketing partners for those looking to grow their brand awareness and bottom line. Stop paying for digital and traditional services you may not need. Our retainer, no mark-up model means our recommendations don’t come with any catch or commission. The advice we provide aligns with what you need and what fits within your budget. For more information, contact us at 410-366-9479 or [email protected]