Alto Marketing

Apple prioritise email privacy with iOS 15 update. How can you minimise the impact?

13th September 2021 - 0 comments

Due for release in “late 2021”, iOS 15 looks set to shake up email marketing. We take a closer look and consider the impact…

In a nutshell, this software update will include a feature that gives users the opportunity to prevent tracking of certain aspects of their engagement.

The new privacy setting will only apply to the Apple iPhone or Apple Mail email clients, so if the recipient uses the Microsoft Outlook or Gmail app on their iPhone, for example, then existing tracking will still be effective.

It will not be the default setting but users will be prompted when opening an Apple email client, and it seems fair to assume that the majority will choose to apply it. According to a recent report by Litmus, Apple iPhone and Apple Mail email clients accounted for 47.1% and 13% of email opens respectively. So even if just half of those users choose to apply the increased privacy setting, a significant proportion of your email recipients’ actions will no longer be recorded.

Open rates have always been a slightly contentious metric, and for me, the most reliable measure of an effective email is the click through rate, which will still be trackable even with this new privacy setting applied. However, it’s worth remembering that as open rates will appear to drop, click-to-open rates will appear to increase, even though the actual number of clicks will be unchanged.

But there’s more to consider than simply adjusting our expectations for reporting. For example, A/B testing of subject lines will be harder to evaluate, and if you use open rates to classify engagement, then benchmarks for automated segmentation by that metric will need to be adjusted. The update also hides the users IP address, hampering segmentation by location.

What’s more, looking at the bigger picture, with google eliminating third party cookies from chrome, this update from Apple is another sign that the major players in tech seem increasingly concerned with protecting their customers’ privacy. While this change will be welcomed by the more privacy conscious user, as marketers, we will need to adapt and find new ways to gain the insights we need to accurately identify and target potential customers. For example, maximizing clicks and data capture will be more important than ever.

To be fair to Apple, they gave us plenty of warning here so there’s time to prepare. This change in itself is by no means an existential threat to email marketing, but it is part of a trend that can’t be ignored and will likely favour marketers who get on board early.  

If you want to know more about the impact of these changes on your marketing strategy then please get in touch.

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