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Strategy

iOS 15 Update: 8 Ways Marketers Can Adapt to Apple Mail Privacy Changes

Jim Babb
Jim Babb

The iOS 15 rollout has big implications for Apple Mail users—and marketers trying to reach them. With this update, Mail presents users with two new options:

It’s safe to assume most people will select the first option, which tells Apple to preload emails via a separate IP address before they hit the recipient’s inbox. As a result, emails with tracking pixels will register as “opened” after preloading, not when someone actually opens them. In other words, bye-bye, accurate open rates.

Since 40-60% of all email users rely on Apple Mail, marketers must shift from IP data benchmarking to metrics related to clicks and revenue attributable to email channels. Here’s what you need to know (and do).

Check with your email marketing platform.

They may be investing in predicting open rates consistently through this change—reach out and ask what steps they’re taking, or if they can recommend other metrics for your business. While you’re at it, check the default click/open conversion window in your settings. You might need to update it to “click only” in order to avoid inflated revenue attribution.

Look at clicks, not opens, for Apple Mail users.

It’s a best practice to suppress—or stop emailing—people who aren’t engaging with your emails: this keeps you out of spam folder purgatory. In the past, that engagement was typically defined by opens. Now, you’ll want to focus on the amount of time since a user has clicked links in one of your emails. Segment your subscriber list by email client, and use these lists to tailor flows for Apple Mail users.

Consider other ways to keep your lists healthy.

Use a platform like FreshAddress to monitor the health of your email list. Just upload your list, and in a few days you’ll get a report detailing overall list health, as well as any spam traps, invalid emails, and more. Then, you can identify the sources of these unhealthy emails and adjust your lead strategy accordingly. These tools can get pricey, but even a once-a-year health check will make a big impact in email performance.

You can also prompt subscribers to resubscribe more often. This is a common practice with publisher newsletters, and gives you confidence that your subscribers really want to keep hearing from you.

Swap roundups for resends.

Many marketers will resend an email to people who didn’t open it within a few days. It’s a polite nudge… hey, maybe they just missed it that first time! But since this approach relies on accurate open data, it’s going to be less effective now. Instead, try taking your best content and summarizing it for all subscribers in a monthly or quarterly roundup.

Update the logic controlling your flows.

Most automated flows use data that is still accessible, like checkout abandonment. But it isn’t uncommon to have flows that are triggered (or not) based on opens. Do an audit of your flow logic and make sure flows aren’t completely reliant on open rates.

Optimize for clicks in creative.

There are creative solutions for this technical challenge. How can your content prompt users to engage, beyond simply opening the email? If your content is meaty enough, you can share  teasers with “read more” links to drive users to your website. (You may have noticed that we did that ourselves with our recent live shopping longread.)

Think of each email as a launchpad to access more of your brand’s offerings. Increase the number of places in the email where people can click to get more, learn more, and do more.

Don’t forget paid media performance.

Any media team worth working with uses email data to build audiences and target engaged subscribers—and (say it with us now!) engagement has been defined by open data. So, make sure you’re updating those segments to be defined based on clicks. Bonus tip: If the data hasn’t been refreshed in a minute, quickly refresh based on opens this week for a larger data set.

Remember, first party data is more than email.

And, frankly, email just became a little less valuable. So stop slinging basic 10% discounts in exchange for an email address, and brainstorm what you could do with other types of first party data. Offer deals and other SMS perks in exchange for mobile numbers. Use clothing size for segmented product content strategies. Ask for location, favorite color, or favorite celebrity for hyper-personalized outreach. Experiment: You don’t know what people will share with you until you ask.

Just be sure to stay on-brand and relevant. Research has shown that 85% of online forms have just one or two fields, but forms with as many as five fields see only a tiny dip in conversion (less than 0.1%). Make your business something people want to engage with, and you’ll have no trouble building engagement.