This summer, Apple announced a new privacy update that will be rolled out with theiOS 15 release in September 2021. The update will include new privacy features in Apple Mail that will affect email campaign measurement practices and how you can adapt to the new market conditions. Digital marketers will likely start to see some impact sooner with the public beta being available beginning in July.  

iOS updates in 2021 have made sweeping impacts on the data marketers have access to, so this is just the latest transition for digital marketers. Learn the details and how to adapt as you read on. 

What will happen with the release of iOS 15?

Apple Mail Privacy Popup

From an experience and technical perspective, when a user first opens the native Apple Mail app after they update to iOS 15, they will be prompted to either “Protect Mail Activity” or “Don’t Protect Mail Activity.”  

Based on the app tracking privacy opt-in rates in iOS 14, only 4% of users select to allow tracking. Or in this case, select “Don’t Protect Mail Activity”.

When the other 96% select to Protect Mail Activity, Apple will route emails through a proxy server to pre-load message content, including tracking pixels that track open, before serving to readers. Even if users don’t open emails, the typical mechanism to identify an open (the loading of a pixel) will occur via Apple’s pre-loading of content—most likely inflating open rates collected by the Email Service Providers (ESPs). Therefore, this change will affect any marketing automation downstream reliant upon an open action.  

What to do now?

Keep calm and evolve

Change is normal and inevitable. The impacts will continue to be felt and understood over the next year, or perhaps more. Companies need to know that everyone will be affected and as an agency, Bold Orange is here to advise and help your organization. Marketing automation platforms, along with ESPs will need to evolve as well, not just the parties executing email.  

For example: 

  • How will an ESP evolve their spam algorithms? For those familiar with IP Warming, most or all ESPs leverage open rates as a method to determine credibility. 
  • How will a platform like Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) determine IP health?  
  • How will a list hygiene provider, such as, Fresh Address infer deliverability? 

Start with the tactical

For business stakeholders with the email channel as a part of their accountability or responsibility, begin to systematically consider and identify where and when Email Open is being relied upon. This will be across the entire spectrum; measurement, tracking, automated journeys, segmentation, triggers, scoring, reporting, entry/exit criteria and even send time optimization. 

Begin to look at historical performance of your Open to Click-Through Rate (CTR) to inform future triangulation methods. CTR is a function of Open and proxies can be leveraged from a metric perspective. In particular, analyze the percentage of your audience that are accessing email through the native Apple Mail app.  

Begin positioning and planning

As you start with the tactical approach, begin talking internally and externally about different methods to identify intent and engagement. This makes explicit behaviors we seek even more important and more valuable.  

Get familiar with Zero-Party data techniques and influence an organizational-level initiative around a Zero-Party data strategy. Add this topic as a recurring status item with your internal and external partners. 

Do You Need Help Managing Email Data? 

There are numerous implications for tracking and measuring the impact of this change. The impact you feel from this change will be different depending on your audience behavior and trends. If you need help with measuring the connected customer journey, don’t hesitate to reach out.