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The Impact on Email Marketing by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection
Kit McKinley

Agency Director

Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) is here, and we want to help you navigate the updates. Perhaps you have heard the scuttlebutt that email open rates are dead or that MPP will forever change the email marketing landscape. Let’s take a moment and see what all the fuss is.

 

What is Mail Privacy Protection?

 

On September 20, 2021, Apple released iOS 15 and introduced the newest privacy feature, Mail Privacy Protection. MPP allows Apple Mail app users the power to block online tracking. This feature is available for app users on iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, and Apple Watches, allowing them to mask data such as when and where they open an email, what device they are on, and any other online activity linked to that device. In Q1 of 2021, Apple devices accounted for approximately 52 percent of all email opens, according to Litmus.

 

MPP is offered now as an option for those users who have upgraded to iOS 15. It is still unknown how many users will opt-in, but marketers should rely less on open email data. We could expect to see users taking advantage of this as they have in previously released iOS features, like opting out of app data tracking.

 

What percentage of your email list will use MPP?

 

While no two email lists are the same, let us make an educated guess of how many subscribers may use Apple’s newest privacy feature. 

 

Say 52 % of your subscribers (based on the above information from Litmus) read your emails while using Apple Mail, and 96% of them will opt-in to additional privacy protection (as was the case with the iOS 14.5 app tracking feature). We can estimate that 50 percent of your subscribers will likely opt-in to Mail Privacy Protection.

 

What is changing in the world of email marketing as a result of Apple’s privacy protection?

 

1- Increasing open rates, but are they reliable

When an Apple Mail user opts into MPP, Apple preloads message content before giving it to the user, even if they never open the email. You might see open rates skyrocket due to these changes, but they aren’t actual opens.

 

2- Click-to-open rates are likely decreasing but are unreliable

A click-to-open rate (CTOR) is the number of unique clicks your email receives divided by the number of unique opens. In the past, marketers favored this metric to measure the effectiveness of their content. As CTOR is a metric of your email opens, MPP causes your CTOR to plummet artificially. The good news is that Apple’s new privacy change does not impact your total clicks. Clicks remain a reliable way to measure engagement and compare campaigns.

 

3- Open rate-powered features have become less reliable

Email marketing features that rely on opens and other pixel data will be less reliable as that data most likely will not be available from half of your recipients. Some of the popular features impacted are:

 

  • Contact insights and engagement

  • List segmentation

  • Resend to unopened

  • Automated email series

  • A/B subject line testing

 

4- Individual user data from Apple Mail users that opt-in to MPP are no longer available to marketers

Since Apple is working to protect its users, it is evident that marketers will have less data on their subscribers, such as time, device type, and location of email opens.

 

5- Personalization hasn’t disappeared but has changed some

Email personalizations, such as including names or personalizing content based on subscriber click behavior, remain unaffected. The types of personalization you’ll need to be careful with are those based on opens, such as personalizing to the most engaged subscribers based on how many emails they open. This segment will now need to be measured by their click engagement history.

 

What hasn’t changed about email marketing

 

Good news: Email marketing remains one the highest returns on investment (ROI) of all forms of marketing and is more likely to drive sales over other channels like social media. When using the best practices for email marketing, the focus stays the same, driving actual results, like reaching new customers, increasing sales, and engaging existing customers. Achieving high open rates has never been the ultimate goal.

To learn more on navigating Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, download the guide with insights from our friends at Validity.