Email Marketing after Apple’s iOS 15 Update

At the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced their plans for the new iOS 15 software and features. Apple shared that the update will heavily focus on privacy features, including “Mail Privacy Protection” and “Hide My Email” which will undoubtedly impact email marketing greatly. We’ll touch on the specifics of the new features, and what that means for the future of email marketing. 

What’s new?

Here are two of the features with the most direct impact on your email marketing strategies.

  • The “Mail Privacy Protection” tab will be added within the Mail app, where users can decide how much of their personal information is shared with email senders. Users will be able to restrict access to their IP addresses and location information and this includes the ability to block third parties from tracking email opens. This is a free feature.
  • To control the amount of junk mail in users’ inboxes, Apple is adding a “Hide My Email” feature, which allows for the creation of a single-use, randomly-generated email address. This can be used to forward mail to users’ real accounts, limiting the ability to collect personal data via email. This is a feature that is part of the iCloud+ subscription.

The “Hide My Email” feature raises a number of issues for marketers – without any easy way to tell if a new email sign-up is a legitimate account or a ‘burner’, this could cause deliverability issues as subscribers can quickly delete their email, resulting in increased bounce rates. However, as it’s part of a paid for feature, the uptake may not be as big as it would be if it were a free-to-access option.

What does this mean for Email Marketing?

One of the key metrics all email marketing users study is open rate. This is an initial indicator of how effective your subject line was in engaging your target audience, if you’re sending emails at optimum times of the day or week and if your email recipients are eagerly anticipating your updates. This means that the imminent Apple update could change how we view open rates for the future.

This presents a new challenge to businesses, and agencies to perform after the privacy changes of IOS 15, along with the advertising privacy data changes in IOS 14 also. It means strategy has never been more important, and finding innovative ways to jump over these hurdles and reach the finish line of success. Ultimately, businesses need to accept that consumers increasingly want privacy and personalisation and so trust and solid relationships need to be built with customers more than ever before. 

This isnt the death of Email marketing, however, Apple email and mail mobile devices make up over 35% of the email provider market share globally, therefore 65% of the share in  Google, Outlook, and other email providers which haven’t announced similar privacy moves, are still available openly, allowing for the tracking and utilisation of. On the other hand though, this is still 35% of the email marketing audiences that you won’t be able to tap into. Therefore, when producing strategic goals for data, open rates etc. you must take into consideration the change that IOS 15 brings to the table, and potentially lower your goals accordingly.

Our advice

Although we don’t know exactly how much email marketing will be impacted as a result of this change, we do know that perhaps one of the biggest most important things we can all do is manage expectations. Once the update has been made, there needs to be a transition period where new open rates can be tracked and new goals can be set. Creating before and after benchmarks will be helpful. After all, you can only work with the data that you have.

It’s worth noting that in 2021, emails are mostly opened on smartphones so even though the update doesn’t count for Android and desktop users, we have to be realistic and recognise that iOS users are a huge share of the market.

Collect as much data as you can. We know Apple is making these updates but there are still other email providers who aren’t yet clamping down as hard with their privacy. Although all tech giants tend to follow suit eventually, we think it’s best to try and collect this data while you still can for as long as you can. 

Open rate isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. It’s one of the first things we’ll all turn to but there are other metrics that you should be looking at and that can help you form the latest incarnation of your email marketing strategy. Depending on your email software, you should look at clicks, click-through rates, traffic, click maps and unsubscribe rates for a rounded picture of what’s going on with your marketing.

Fundamentally, marketing and tech are not static and we’re all used to rolling with the punches and just need to be equipped with the facts to make a plan. This is just the latest challenge!

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