Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection update will change the email marketing landscape forever. But the good news? Any marketing team that gets ahead of iOS 15 and adapts now will be well-positioned to take advantage of any new opportunities that result.

What is Mail Privacy Protection?

A few months ago, Apple announced Mail Privacy Protection — which essentially gives any Apple Mail user the ability to opt into privacy protections that block email open-tracking pixels, location metadata, and other personally identifiable information from marketing email senders.

Considering that these recipients are responsible for anywhere from 10% to 40% of your total email engagement, this update is a big deal. Especially for marketing teams that use open rate or open-focused metrics to measure campaign success.

But — contrary to many headlines out there — the sky isn’t falling. In fact, this privacy-focused pivot creates more business potential than ever for the brands willing to adjust their email strategies now. So, which changes do you need to keep in mind?

How Mail Privacy Protection will change the way you work

In its official announcement, Apple states that “Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

For email marketers, that means three new and important changes to prepare for:

  • Emails opened inside the Apple Mail app will be sent to a Proxy. All content — including your images, impression data, and tracking pixels — will be pre-loaded regardless of whether a customer actually sees it or not.
  • Mail Privacy Protection will use its Proxy to obscure recipient data and personal info from senders. Things like IP address, opener location, device and browser used, and preferred language(s) will be impossible to capture unless you explicitly ask your customers for it.
  • Because of these changes, your open rate and open-focused metrics will be artificially inflated — making them inaccurate, unreliable, and impossible to compare with past years’ results.

Evolve your email marketing strategy

Mail Privacy Protection is going to artificially inflate your open rates, make tactics like geo-targeting more difficult to perform, and ultimately muddy the waters when it comes to measuring email campaign engagement. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to overcome these challenges while simultaneously maximizing your results.

Prioritize long-term loyalty over short-term gains

In a world without open-centric email metrics, measuring success will be a lengthier process than it ever has. So, don’t fight the trend — take advantage of it! A personalized drip series or campaign is a great way to influence buyer behavior over time.

Mail Privacy Protection

Because you’re not relying on a single send to make a sale or inspire a specific action, customers are more likely to respond positively to these interactions — and you’re more likely to see long-term benefits and customer loyalty result. If you really want to kick things up a notch, adding user-generated product reviews, dynamic referrals, and exclusive event invites to these sends can be an easy way to create lifelong shoppers that stay engaged with your emails forever.

Collect your data directly from customers

Until now, email marketers have been able to infer user language, location, timezone, device preferences, and more upon every open. But that’s about to change — and if you’re not, your audience segmentation and targeting practices will suffer the consequences.

Mail Privacy Protection

So, don’t be shy. If you’d like to use a data point to personalize shopper interactions later on in your email experience, simply ask for it and make the value delivered later clear to them. Or, better yet, use fun and interactivity to collect the insights you need. Email polls and surveys can help you bridge this information gap and keep your personalized messages on-track even as traditional methods become less and less reliable thanks to new Apple features like Hide My Email.

Move past opens — measure your success using interactions instead

Mail Privacy Protection will make it impossible to accurately measure open-focused metrics like time of request, open duration, or opener location/timezone among your Apple Mail audience. So, re-think your email marketing benchmarks by prioritizing stats such as clicks, conversions, and revenue generated instead.

Mail Privacy Protection

While this sounds simple, the reality for many email marketers is that this is a big step. So, start simple. Look at your currently engaged email audiences to understand which experiences are satisfying customers most. Then, repeat the fun, engaging elements those campaigns are using across new campaigns and A/B test the impact these tactics have. When you shift the goal from getting a message opened to making it more effective and interactive, you’ll be surprised by the ROI these interactions have the potential to deliver.

To learn more about Apple’s upcoming Mail Privacy Protection update and how it impacts email marketers everywhere in greater detail, view our Navigating an Evolving Privacy Environment webinar now!