Apple's iOS15 Update is Changing Email Marketing...Starting Now

Welp, Apple is at it again. The fruit has been stirring up all sorts of trouble for digital marketers with their recent updates, and the new iOS15 update is no different. This time, it’s your email marketing metrics that will likely take the hit. 

Don’t get us wrong, this is a big win for device user privacy, but it does have digital marketers muttering under their breath. Here’s what you need to know about the update and what it means for your email efforts. 

The Change

Apple launched iOS15 on September 20th, and the update will roll out to device users worldwide over the next couple of months. The most impactful changes (for users and marketers alike) are privacy-related and include the following:  

  1. Mail Privacy Protection: This new feature makes two key changes: it prevents senders from seeing if and when a recipient opens an email in Apple Mail, and it hides the recipient’s IP address (meaning senders cannot see the recipient’s location.) 

  2. Hide My Email: Apple Mail users can now generate random email addresses that forward to their inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private. 

The Impacts

Broadly, these changes will impact anyone who emails Apple Mail users – which is all of us. But there’s no need to panic. First and foremost, these changes will only impact those users who access their email via Apple Mail, not any other email client on their Apple devices. According to Litmus, as of mid-2021, that is about 13% of email users. And, if your content marketing strategy is on point, there is very little to worry about. Let’s take a closer look at how your email marketing campaigns could be affected. 

Open Rates

While open rate is generally considered a vanity metric (there are other KPIs you should be watching when determining the success of your campaigns) we all still look at it – and it’s about to look a bit more inflated than usual. As part of the new Mail Privacy Protection update, Apple Mail will technically be “opening” emails on behalf of its users. Of course, they won’t be reading user email but rather inserting tracking pixels on behalf of their users, making it look to most email marketing systems like an open when the recipient has not, in fact, opened the email. 

Location-Based Email Sends 

If your campaigns depend on location-based targeting, you could feel this update a bit more than others. For example, if you use your email client to send emails based on time zones, that feature may no longer function for Apple Mail users. Not the end of the world, but something to consider when scheduling that next invite. This, of course, is more impactful for companies with a target audience spread across the country or the globe than for those with more local reach. 

CRM Management

If you are currently using a marketing automation platform or CRM to manage your contacts, you could be in for a little more clean-up and some more metric inflation. Because Apple Mail users can now “spoof” their email address, they can essentially give you as many fake email addresses as they want – which means the possibility of a number of new contact records in your system that are all related to the same person.  

If you are building trust and maintaining a clean and non-spammy email list, this shouldn’t be a problem. People who know, like, and trust you will likely give you their real email address. But for those with less than spotless contact lists, you could start to see inflated contact counts. 

The Solution

For now, keep doing what you’re doing. If you are sending only relevant and high-quality content to an engaged audience (which, if you haven’t noticed, is what we preach as the key to ANY good content marketing strategy), then these changes shouldn’t impact you too much. Yes, your open rates will be a little inflated, but if you’re watching your other key metrics closely and tracking things like click-through and response rates, then it shouldn’t make that much of a difference overall. 

If you are using a marketing automation tool, you may need to dig into some of your workflows and reports to make sure you don’t have any automations set to trigger based on a metric that will be impacted by open rate. For example, triggers based on email opens, email activity date, last engagement date, etc. If you do, we recommend reaching out to your provider for best practices and things to consider. If you are a HubSpot user, feel free to skip the customer service line and reach out to us instead!

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