5 minute read

A new approach to privacy may challenge your email marketing.

Apple has sparked a lot of interest with the introduction of Mail Privacy Protection, first revealed at the Worldwide Developer Conference. It will have a major influence on digital advertising. The updated Mail app will limit the usage of tracking pixels and hide users' IP addresses from marketing tools. The reporting of open open-rates and location tracking for sent emails will be significantly affected as a result of this change - read this blog to find out everything you need to know.

Mail Privacy Protection was introduced with the latest iOS and MacOS updates from Apple. These changes are leaving many digital marketers wondering how the company's modifications will affect their business and what they can do to avoid having their email marketing efforts hindered.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the update and what you can do to prepare yourself for when it happens.

Why is it being introduced?

Apple's Mail Privacy Protection update aims to protect the privacy of consumers. It does, however, have certain consequences for email marketers. The Mail Privacy Protection prevents email senders from conducting effective open-rate tracking. 

While it should be noted that only receivers who set up their email account in the Apple Mail app and activate privacy protection will have their engagement data affected, it is expected that many users will activate this. On iOS15, the Mail Privacy Protection function will be disabled by default - but it helps to be prepared. Android and other desktop computers are unaffected by this change.

How does it work?

Normally, open-rates (the percentage of people that open emails) are tracked with Marketing Automation, an Email Service Provider, or within a Customer Engagement Platform by using a tiny invisible graphic embed in the bottom of your HTML email. This is one of the most crucial indicators that senders use to determine how well their email marketing campaigns perform. It shows you how engaged your audience is, as well as how that engagement is evolving over time. When your email is opened with images turned on, the pixel is downloaded from the sending program server and recorded as an open email. This sends information back to the sender about who opened, where, and on what device. The aggregated data is then put into your marketing automation and email campaign reports, trend reports, and other marketing analytics.

Mail Privacy Protection in the Mail app prevents senders from collecting information with this invisible pixel by preloading the pixel. It keeps senders from knowing when recipients open an email and hides their IP address so it can't be connected to other online behaviour or used to track their location. 

In other words - it’s a real pain in the neck for marketing analytics.

Potential Effects

Due to Apple’s changes, it’s important to note a few of the potential effects it could have on email campaigns and the analytics associated with them. Here are a few critical aspects to consider:

Follow-up emails: Any email scheduled to be sent based on the last open date will have to rely on alternative metrics.

Email performance tracking: Senders will need to rely on alternate measures such as engagement or activity instead of open rates.

Open automation: Automated flows and journeys that rely on someone opening an email would need to be re-engineered.

Cleaning email lists: Apple Mail recipients will not be able to be segmented into email lists based on open rates.

AB Open Tests: Using opens to decide the winner (or to automatically send out the winner) in A/B testing subject lines (or any other test) will no longer function.

Sending times: The optimisation of identifying the best ‘send time’ would become erroneous based on open statistics.

Time-based marketing: Other material driven by opens, such as local weather or the position of the nearest business, would also be inaccurate.

Bloated email opens: As part of the change, Apple will load tracking pixels whether recipients open emails or not. This will raise open-rates with no change in actual engagement.

How do we adapt?

Pixel blocking will make it harder for email marketers to improve their emails. Without the knowledge of open-rates, it will be more difficult to find what works. Having said this, it will encourage marketers to focus on engagement and quality rather than metrics. For ad-based newsletters, then, Mail Privacy Protection is likely to spur publishers to find other ways to understand their audiences on a deeper level.

Demodia has already promoted better ways to market your company through mediums like email. We focus on engagement and interaction measures over metrics and numbers like open rates. In this way, if you’re already focusing on providing quality with every send, you don’t need to worry as much as other email marketers.

Here are a few ways we recommend adapting to the recent Apple changes:

  • Analyse the possible impact on your program by figuring out how many people in your audience use Apple Mail.
  • Start measuring click-through rate over the delivery and open rates (if you haven't already) to establish a new, additional benchmark for future marketing performance.
  • Adjust your content to focus on engagement, quality, and metrics that measure interests rather than simply relying on opens.
  • Begin testing creative elements to see what appeals to your audience the most, so you can confidently send emails that increase interaction rather than simply initial interest.
  • Improve your lead quality, list hygiene, and sender reputation, since openings may no longer be a reliable indicator of a deliverability issue.

What does it change within HubSpot?

There are a host of HubSpot features that will change as a result of Apple's Mail Privacy Protection update. Below, we’ll list the features that could be impacted by the change, what you need to check and what you can do.

Properties

Properties will be impacted as a matter of inaccurate reporting. Features that are linked to these properties will also be influenced, such as monitor reports, lists, and workflows. You can update the properties to exclude open rates and adjust the targeted metric to something more appropriate in light of the change.

The following properties are most likely to be impacted:

  • Last marketing email open date
  • Marketing emails opened [#]
  • First marketing email open date
  • Sends since last engagement
  • Recent sales email open date
  • Last engagement date
  • Any scoring properties or calculated properties

Workflows

Workflows need to be suited for criteria that include open metrics and properties. 

Here are the areas that you should check:

  • Triggers (including “Marketing Email” triggers)
  • Delays
  • Goal criteria
  • Suppression lists
  • Branches

Reports

As mentioned before, properties that are listed in reports will be inaccurate. There are two ways you can ensure your reports will continue working as intended:

  • Audit your custom reports for criteria that reference “open” metrics and properties (listed above).
  • Audit and benchmark your email reports. Track changes, and consider using click and reply data to drive decisions instead.

Lists

Finally, you should check your lists for criteria that reference open metrics and properties, similarly to the above actions.

Moving forward

The world is changing yet one thing remains clear: consumers are willing to share their data as long as the customer gains value. You can provide additional value by giving out offers and discounts, product exclusives, or just explaining in crystal-clear terms how you’re using your customers’ data to provide unique customer experiences and better product recommendations.

This is an opportunity to change your performance metrics and put what you've learned from the new metrics to good use. Demodia can help you achieve the best results with your emails that encourage more clicks, conversions, and ultimately, real engagement. You'll not only be able to withstand the iOS changes, but you'll also be able to transform a negative situation into something great for the future.

If you want to find out more or would like Demodia to guide you on the best email marketing practices available, contact us today for a free consultation and begin to turn your challenges into opportunities.

Topics: Digital Marketing   HubSpot Marketing Automation   Marketing Automation   Email Marketing