How iOS Privacy Changes Affect Email Marketing

Person using Apple products.

In case you missed it, Apple made a big announcement at their Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The company has implemented iOS privacy changes that impact email marketing and reporting – but does this mean you should change your approach? 

The short answer is: not really. But there are a few nuances you need to understand now that these changes are in place.

iOS: What’s New?

Apple is adding a number of privacy features to iOS 15:

  • Mail Privacy Protection, which allows users to opt in to privacy features that mask IP addresses and block third parties from tracking email opens and other IP data.
  • iCloud+, which is a subscription that adds privacy features, including a Private Relay feature that behaves similarly to a VPN. This prevents sites from tracking Safari users who opt in – and allows these users to see which websites they're sending information to.
  • Hide My Email, an email address-cloaking feature within iCloud+ that lets users give sites a fake email address. Promotional emails sent to the fake address will go to someone's inbox, but senders will not be able to see the person's real email address unless it’s explicitly shared.

Only Mail Privacy Protection is free and the potential impact of iCloud+ is still to be seen – but this free feature is already causing a stir.

What iOS Privacy Changes Mean for Your Email Campaigns

The biggest impact is expected to be felt on tracking open rates and A/B testing. This has a couple of implications for your email marketing efforts:

  • Gathering data will be tricky, even with automation, if users opt out of allowing email opens to be tracked.
  • You’ll have to get innovative in your approach to determining what email strategy works best for your target audience.

The general consensus among marketing experts,1 though, is that these iOS privacy changes will have a positive impact on user experience – and level the playing field for businesses that historically haven’t had the resources to track (and sell) personal data.

Relationships Are Everything

Which brings us to the big aha moment when it comes to email marketing: building trusted relationships with your audience is the optimal way to capture data about what they’re interested in – and what works for your marketing. 

In other words, email marketing is far from dead, and you need to focus on customization. Successful email campaigns in the new era of iOS privacy changes will require you to take a more relationship-based approach and place greater emphasis on interactions within an email than on open rates.

Open Rates Are Out. What to Track?

Open rates can no longer be used as a top email marketing success metric in light of the iOS privacy changes. There are a number of other ways to track the effectiveness of your email campaigns:

  • Click-through rates: If your emails are meant to add value, you’re probably sharing content inside them. Whether that’s a blog, white paper, or landing page, you can track the number of clicks and click-through rates to gather data on engagement with your emails. The higher the number of clicks, the more engaging the content – fewer clicks means you need to rethink your strategy. 
  • Site traffic: You can use an automation platform like HubSpot to see how much website traffic is generated from an email, or which specific pieces of content drew visitors to your site. Adjust subsequent email campaigns accordingly.
  • Clickmaps: See if your email provider has the capability to show you which content people clicked on most within an email – this valuable information will help you determine what content is most (and least) effective. 
  • Unsubscribe rates: “No” can be a useful answer from a data collection perspective. Unsubscribe rates generally aren’t that variable, so a spike tells you something about your email marketing strategy isn’t working – whether that’s the content of your emails or their frequency. A low unsubscribe rate tells the opposite story – you’re doing something right and hanging onto your subscribers, so stay the course.
  • Surveys: Don’t be afraid to use surveys. These are a great way to ask directly about what your subscribers want to see more of, what topics they’re interested in, and how you can improve your content.

Insights from Mojenta

iOS privacy changes aren’t the end of email marketing. Tracking metrics other than open rates is a great way to measure your campaigns’ effectiveness while also giving you deeper insight into your overall content strategy. (If people aren’t interested in reading the blog you linked, it could be the messaging in the email – but it could also be the content of the blog itself!)

Privacy changes may also open up opportunities in the world of SMS marketing, which has historically been used for time-sensitive offers and updates – but this could change should the trend toward more robust email privacy continue.

Mojenta has been creating email marketing campaigns for telecom and IT companies for over a decade – and we’re pros at the automation game. Email and marketing automation are part of a holistic inbound marketing strategy. If you’re looking to grow your business with intelligent, automated inbound marketing campaigns, our experts are here to help – get in touch with us today.

Sources:

  1. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-apples-ios-15-could-impact-email-marketers

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