What the Apple iOS 15 Update Means for Email Marketing

iOS 15 Update

With every Apple iOS update, you can hear a collective gasp from marketers wondering how it will impact their ability to reach consumers.  With all the privacy guidelines and tracking capabilities changing the ways we collect data, it was only a matter of time before email marketing would be impacted.

In the latest iOS 15 update by Apple, consumers are gaining more control over the data they share through Mail Privacy Protection, Hide My Mail, and Private Relay. Let’s explore what these privacy updates mean for your email marketing strategy and ways to strategize around it.

Apple iOS 15 Privacy Update

As a whole, these new features allow users to protect their email activity and prevent third-party marketing services from collecting and tracking data. If users enable this feature, marketers won’t be able to track iOS users’ open rates and IP data.

This is significant for any marketer since open rates are one of the most important email metrics of an email marketing campaign. Let’s dig into what’s involved with these new features.

Mail Protection Policy

Marketers have historically been able to use pixels to monitor information such as other apps consumers use, how long they spend reading emails and their exact IP address. With Mail Protection Policy now in place, any email opened on any Apple device – no matter which email service is used – will hide the user’s IP address. Therefore, senders won’t be able to determine a user’s online activity or location. And it prevents senders from seeing if the user has opened their email.

When a user first opens up the apple mail app, they’ll see a pop-up message prompting them to either “Protect Mail Activity” or “Don’t Protect Mail Activity.” People will have to actively make a choice, and whatever choice is made is automatically synced to any other devices with the same Apple ID.  If selected, the content will be uploaded remotely in the background, preventing both Apple and senders from gathering any information about the content viewed.

Hide My Email

This feature allows Apple email users to create unique and random email addresses to use on apps, websites, social media, and so on.

The purpose of this feature is to reduce the number of spam and junk emails showing up in your inbox. This new option is only available for iCloud users that pay for iCloud Plus, which ranges from $1-$10 per month.

With Hide My Email, you can use a randomly created email address when shopping around for a discount, making a purchase, or trying to download something for free. Once you get your promo code or free download, you can go back to your original email address. It’s a nice option when you want to get something online without having to subscribe in order to receive it. As a result, it also reduces the number of lists your legitimate email address appears on.

iCloud Private Relay

Similar to Hide My Email, iCloud Private Relay is designed to protect a consumer’s identity when browsing on Safari, Apple’s online browser. When a user enables this feature, traffic is diverted through two Apple servers, allowing it to mask the user’s identity, web history, and IP address. iCloud Private Relay is a free upgrade available for anyone who pays for iCloud storage.

The purpose of this feature is to reduce the amount of data that websites and browsers collect about users since third-party services can no longer track users on the internet. This creates a challenge for marketers to build user profiles based on activity.

However, this feature does have its shortcomings. First, it’s only available when users browse through Safari. Additionally, it can’t hide the region you’re connecting from, only your specific IP address. This means the IP address Apple uses in place of your real one is still going to be approximate to your area, It can’t identify you personally, but it will allow sites to deliver local news, weather, sports, or other location-based information.

How Marketers Can Adapt to the iOS 15 Update

While the iOS 15 update will impact your open rate data, your click-throughs, bounce rate, and subscribe/unsubscribe data still remain intact. Here are some ways to pivot around these new features and still get useful data collection.

Rethink Your Email Marketing Metrics

First and foremost, marketers need to rethink their email marketing metrics, mainly email opens and clicks. Even though email clicks are somewhat reliable, they shouldn’t be your only measure of a successful email campaign.

When setting up your email campaign avoid any triggers related to opens, since it’s now become an unreliable and inflated metric. Instead, think about setting up some of these measurable triggers:

  1. Conversion rate: triggers based around a specific action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a list
  2. List Growth: tracking how many new email subscribers you are gaining vs those that unsubscribe
  3. Overall ROI: The amount of revenue you gain compared to the investment spent in email marketing
  4. Click Rate: The percentage of recipients who click on a link within your email

Rethink Segmentation

Geotargeting or segmented emails have often been used to determine who opened previous emails. Now, these metrics are no longer reliable. However, marketers can set up new behavioral metrics such as signups, purchase orders, items added to the cart, or customer lifetime value (CLV).

Campaigns designed with these metrics can add personalized messaging based on promotions, new or related products, or content recommendations. Studies have shown that personalized messaging often perform much better than those that do not.

Focus on First-Party Data Collection

With first-party data collection now the required standard for data collection, businesses should jump on ways to incorporate this into their own marketing plan. With first-party data collection, the user is willing to provide their personal information in order to receive a more personalized experience with a brand. Once provided, the company can store this data first-hand and use it for more direct targeting.

Consumers are more willing to share personal data in exchange for discounts, personalized offers, exclusive deals, and so on. Brands should be very upfront as to why they are collecting this data and what they will be using it for, and keep up with that transparency.

Final Thoughts

Although these features create new hurdles with email marketing, it’s certainly not an end-all-be-all. And while it’s understandable users may not want to be tracked or watched without consent, it’s important to consider that opting into all these privacy features will also stop the flow of a more personalized experience.

Email continues to be an incredibly effective way to connect with potential customers. Although the landscape may have changed, its revenue potential remains the same.

If you’re interested in learning more about these new features or how an email marketing campaign could help your business, contact us to schedule a free brainstorming session.