Desta: Welcome, and thank you for joining us today for our webinar on Navigating an Evolving Privacy Environment. I'm Desta Price, CM Group's Chief Product Officer. Some of you may ask, “Who is CM Group?”
How Does CM Group Help Digital Marketers Like You?
CM Group has seven brands and more than 70,000 customers with nearly 1,000 employees around the world to deliver email and multi-channel marketing solutions to the industry. The presenters today are proud to represent our teams around the globe, who are honored to work with you — our customers — each and every day.
We've got a great lineup for you today of information and speakers. First, Tom will walk through the details of Apple's upcoming updates. We'll then look at how we move forward both tactically and strategically in light of what we know of these changes. Before we hear from our product teams, we'll meet with two seasoned industry experts in a fireside chat to talk about past hurdles we've seen in digital marketing, how the industry overcame them, and what lessons we can learn and apply to what's currently happening and the evolving state of privacy.
How businesses interact with consumers continues to evolve. And we must find new ways of creating and nurturing relationships that drive value. These relationships need to be beneficial to both the customer and the company.
Consumer data privacy changes are coming with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection on the way
In recent years, we've seen a lot of policy changes, global policies, and regulatory changes affect advertising technology, digital marketing, the ecosystem at large including the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, Canada's anti-spam law, and also California's consumer privacy law. To navigate this evolving environment, we need to adapt our consumer relationships; we need to establish and grow them over time to build meaningful connections.
Our approach is gathering first-party data. We've seen this already in practice in our everyday world. For example, we give a phone number or email address in exchange for loyalty points or a discount. Consumers want and deserve to be in control of their data. And it's our mission to enable personalized, engaging connections between you and your customers in this new world.
Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Explained
We're going to provide examples and some ideas on how to move forward in this dynamic environment. But first, before we do that, we want to give you more insight into the changes that are happening. For those of you more technically minded marketers, you'll appreciate some of the details we have to share. Let me turn the conversation over to Tom Janofsky, CM Group's CTO, to tell you about what our teams have been doing with testing and research over the last few weeks. All yours, Tom.
Tom: Thanks again for joining us today. I'm Tom Janofsky, CM Group CTO. Today I'd like to talk about the technical details behind the changes that Apple has introduced. At a high level, these Apple changes are consistent with broad trends we've seen in email marketing over the last few years including GDPR, Gmail image proxying, and open pixel filtering.
The new Apple features we're discussing today are called Apple Mail Privacy Protection and iCloud-Private Relay. Both of these will be opt-in features for iOS, iPad OS, and Mac OS users. iCloud Private Relay will initially only be available to users on a paid iCloud account. Based on the user experience we've seen in the data, as well as the uptake rate for the recently released app tracking and transparency feature, we believe that many users will opt into using these privacy features.
Let's go through what the new features are and then we'll talk about specifically who it impacts and what features you use today that may be impacted.
When a user opts into Apple Mail Privacy Protection, the native mail application will first load all images that are shown in an email when the email is downloaded to the device. This is not how it works today. Today, email images are only loaded when an email is open including tracking pixels. This is how we determine open rates for an email. Those images are also going to be loaded through a proxy. So, this means that the direct IP address of the subscriber is not going to be available to the email service provider. Additionally, the user agent, which is what an email service provider uses to determine what kind of email client is being used to open the device, is no longer going to be specific enough to identify the device.
In addition, if the subscriber has opted into the iCloud Private Relay, that same functionality that hides the IP address from loading an email is also going to be carried over to the Safari browser. So, what subscribers does this impact? Any subscriber who's using the native Apple Mail application to read their email — be it on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac — will be able to turn these features on.
Subscribers who use those devices, but instead read their mail through Gmail or through an Outlook application or on the respective web use are not impacted. Initial surveys show that for the consumer list this may be 30% to 40% of traffic, but the percentage of people who are affected will depend greatly depending on your specific audience.
How to Evolve Your Email Marketing Strategy
So, what does this mean for working with an email product? First of all, it means that open rates will become less accurate. Since email service providers measure opens by counting the number of times that an image is loaded and the Apple Mail Privacy Protection change will download all images when an email is opened by a device, this means that open rates will likely go up and also there will be no way of knowing if a specific subscriber has opened an email or not.
The changes regarding IP address masking will also affect geo-targeting features. So, if you're currently building a list based on the geographic region that a subscriber is located in, that will become less accurate over time. Specifically how less accurate it becomes won't be clear until the feature is available in wider use from Apple.
Additional areas of impact include engagement and open targeting. So, using engagement criteria that target opens or automation steps that target opens will be less accurate than before. Also, device and client segmentation as well as building lists that use devices or operating systems will be less accurate than it used to be.
In terms of timeline, Apple traditionally releases their updates in September, we will continue to monitor and test each new beta release. We believe that these changes will be widely released in Q3 of this year. And based on adoption rates from previous operating system upgrades, we expect that we will see those be quickly adopted across iOS, iPad OS, and Mac Mail.
Desta: Thanks, Tom. Let's step back and take a look at how these changes may impact our marketing strategies and how we measure them. We'll talk about specific best practices later in the presentation. Right now, let's recap the key things you need to know about how these changes will shape your efforts in the near future.
So the three key things to know: first up is reviews, referrals, events, and more. Drip series and campaigns can influence user behavior just by being in a customer's inbox. Use lengthier time windows to measure success.
Number two: collect data directly from the consumer when it's important for segmentation or targeting. Ask, don't infer, about language, location, timezone, and device preferences. Previously used inference methods are becoming increasingly less reliable.
And three: consider collecting additional personal identifiers, phone numbers, and social handles to help bridge gaps in conversion. Masking identifiers and features such as Hide My Email could make it harder to use a lone identifier as a single source of truth.
With these thoughts in mind, later today you'll hear more about solution best practices and recommendations in response to the evolving conditions that we live in. We'll talk about updating your landing pages, preference headers, and subscription forms to collect informed customer segments. You'll also get guidance on how to leverage our platforms to identify success metrics beyond opens as we talk to two industry experts about their vision on how privacy is shifting the marketing landscape.
This isn't the first technological change affecting digital marketing, and we know it won't be the last. We'll talk with our guests on how to prepare for changes and what to do to manage expectations for your stakeholders.
Three Areas You Should Focus on for Future Email Marketing Success
So, where do we go from here? There's several areas that we can focus on for the future.
First, let’s talk about going beyond opens and click-through rates.
Opens and click-through rates were, and still remain, proxies to larger success metrics such as revenue, or pageviews. Clicks will remain a relevant metric for engagement, but they don't need to be the only success metric that you're following. Email marketers often refer to single mass sends, what we used to call batch and blast, as campaigns. The irony is that these sends are themselves just a moment in a series of customer experiences. The aggregate of those experiences is what matters. A campaign is a series of actions leading toward a goal, or multiple goals.
It's time to talk about those goals. What are they? And what do they mean to you? As we look forward to our roadmap in the coming months, know that our goals are centered around knowing about your business goals. We'll also be focused on making reporting on key metrics easier for you, providing you with a one-stop-shop for your success metrics across your digital channels, and making the transfer of data between your systems and our systems seamless and as dynamic as possible.
Secondly, let’s start leveraging metadata. Open rate and click to open rate are metadata points about consumer behavior, but they're rarely the true business goal of email campaigns. A consumer's loyalty to a product or a brand persists, even if they don't visit it, consume it, or use it every single day. Deriving the type of phone or browser from a web call from a device to server or mapping an IP address to a city or region can change the definition of success on long-form newsletter because it was opened, but for an often indeterminate length of time. These are examples of metadata points.
Digital Marketing has always relied on processing metadata about consumers to position itself as a more attractive mechanism for selling products and delivering information. Any instance to give precise understanding of ROI appeals to executives. Media has long dealt with imperfections in measurement, ratings books, print circulation numbers, even subscription counts.
These were traditionally accepted measures of scale and success, but they never correlated to a precise number of eyes and ears consuming the content. It was and remains at best an estimate.
Commerce marketers benefit from straightforward attribution models thanks to cookies and URL parameters. Purchases and revenue are often easy to collect and retreat back to ad hoc campaign sends. However, affiliate marketers know the difficulty in tracing things back to the right source every time. Revenue and purchase count are easy to calculate. But not every commerce company sees those values as the same, nor are they always the measure of success, other stakeholders are evaluating.
And finally, let’s cover the explicit shift to implicit attribution. Across all verticals, digital marketers need to look and start taking credit for more consumer activity. We have existed far too long in an explicit attribution model where peers and other marketing channels display direct mail events and are able to take credit through more implicit and less conservative attribution models.
Here's what's going to be different though. If you're wondering, “What's the catch in all of this?” Digital marketing and digital marketers will undergo a shift to be even more comfortable with implicit attribution models for measuring success.
Maybe a product review happens within seven days of receiving a post-purchase automation series. Let's take credit for that. If a user clicks on a smiley face or a thumbs up in your long-form, self-contained newsletter at least once a week, take credit for it. Own that success and create a new baseline for active engagement. When a user attends an in-store or on-site event or webinar, attribute that back to the most recent automation or mass send as a met goal.
What we owe stakeholders and executives is an understanding that we and they were already comfortable with implicit models of attribution in digital marketing. We can expand that universe to report, attribute, and segment on so much more than email opens and clicks.
So, why does email still work? Remember, when it comes to building loyalty, end users don't think of their interactions with your brand as a campaign or a statistic. Consumers rely on email as a trusted, direct medium that delivers information, news, discounts, and shopping enticement all in a mailbox that also houses critical bills, medical alerts, and messages from loved ones.
A study in 2020 showed that email engagement was up 200% when the pandemic began — a time when things were pretty uncertain. That's a great indicator of confidence in a medium that can cue app downloads, website logins, product reviews, travel plans, donations, event registrations, and so much more. All from a tap or a click in the palm of your hand.
As our solutions continue to evolve to better tie push notifications, SMS, chat apps, and so much more to the overall workflow, we know email remains a tried-and-true method of communication. Let's pause for a moment before we transition to our fireside chat.=
A Fireside Chat About Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection That Every Email Marketer Needs to Hear
Thank you everyone, again, for your time today. And welcome to our fireside chat. Joining us now are two industry veterans who work closely with commerce and publishing brands across the world. They're also experts in email marketing, and they've gotten their background using both our tools at CM Group as well as others.
I want to welcome Monica and Allison to join me as part of our fireside chat. So, Monica and Allison, if you want to go ahead and unmute yourselves. Hopefully, that will then give me the option to start our chat by having you both introduce yourselves. Allison, maybe you can give us a little bit about your background to get started?
Allison M.: Thanks for having me here today. My name is Allison Mezzafonte. My background is in media and publishing. I've spent my career working at a variety of media companies and publishers, some digital, some print, some combination of the two.
Originally, I started my career on the editorial side of the house and worked my way over to general management, where I had been sitting for the last eight or so years until I left and went out on my own. And so I work now as an advisor to CM Group. And I get to participate in lots of great events like this one.
Because my background is very much in media and publishing, and I've been a customer twice now of Sailthru, I have this unique position where I get to sort of be the voice of the customer within the walls of the company — which is really fun. I kind of get to wear both hats having been on the other side of the table where you all sit. So, I'm really happy to be here and excited for our conversation. And thanks again, Desta.
Desta: Absolutely. And we're excited to have you here and just hear a different perspective from somebody who's kind of outside the walls and understands what happens day-to-day with any one of our customers. So Monica, maybe you can introduce yourself for us?
Monica: Of course. Hi, everyone. My name is Monica Deretich and similar to Allison, I also sit outside of the walls and was a previous customer of Sailthru. I spent my career almost entirely in retail embedded in ecommerce.
I've worked for subscription business D2C, and now consult with retailers ranging from startup to enterprise and even brick-and-mortar. So, I'm excited to be here and — similar to Allison — I also provide the lens of retail marketers and what's important to retailers and the changing dynamics that I'm excited to talk about today. And I bring that to CM Group so that they can best serve their customers.
Desta: Well, we appreciate having you here as well. We've been talking so far today about the changes that Apple is bringing, which is nothing new. Privacy continues to evolve. And so we've put some questions together that we really think our customers want to answer.
We’ve asked them to give us feedback and questions they have. But I think getting the two of you to kind of give your perspective on some things, since you’ve sat in their shoes, will be really helpful. So, let's go ahead and get started.
“How do I get my executive team to understand this change?” Everyone in the industry is dealing with this issue. Privacy is changing for everyone. So I'd love maybe, Allison, if you could start us off with that?
Allison M.: Sure. I think if there's one thing that we've seen across the media and publishing industry, it's that we're constantly having to adapt to industry changes. And I wish I could say that this is something new, but it's not.
I do think, however, that we're seeing two general reactions right now. For some, it's sort of like the world is ending, the sky is falling, and marketers are wondering what are we going to do about this? And then I think there are other companies where they're just feeling less urgency. there's sort of a little bit of like, well, what changes are coming up? I think the thing that's important to remember is that we've dealt with changes of this magnitude in the past. We've always gotten through it, right?
Change has forced us to adapt and be more efficient and strategic. We've dealt with GDPR and CCPA. Years ago, we dealt with Facebook and Google and all of their algorithm and policy updates. Media companies have gotten dinged left and right for things like bad UX, or bad ad experiences, or clickbait headlines. And it's forced us to adapt.
I always think change makes us better. And so, I like to think of now as a great opportunity for the industry to improve, to really work on list maintenance, and our email strategies. There's one stat that I recently came across. It said that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data if it creates a more personalized experience. And so, I think that's important to keep in mind.
I think we have to figure out how we're going to strike a balance here, not going too far in one direction, and making sure that we're able to create great experiences for customers while still playing nice with Apple and managing these privacy changes.
Desta: Absolutely makes sense. Maybe, Monica, we can get your take on it?
Monica: Absolutely. So on the retail side, I think we've been dinged in different ways. We've all had a very interesting and unprecedented holiday season, and I can't believe it's August and we're going into it.
I think the nature of retail is that it's typically responsive to immediate performance. So, a little bit of blinders. And catching breath is sort of the sentiment I've gathered from my peers. I think with this new update coming and creating another unprecedented holiday season for retail, the approach I would take is repetition.
If I can give one tip to those listening in today, bring this up in your recurring meetings and communications with your internal, cross-departmental partners. This is a big milestone. Be proactive, start to understand and view your data, and then see how much of your email list is using an Apple device to understand the open rates and the differences.
This is going to help shape the conversation and educate your internal executive team. And if I can make a suggestion, in addition to understanding the current metrics, start building and bubbling up a high-level plan to pivot and demonstrate the agility that's probably already been happening in the last year because of all the changes taking place.
Desta: Yes, it's definitely been 18 months to remember or not remember, depending on how you look at it. And I know it's changed the world here. Obviously, as we look at privacy, people have become kind of more aware, I think.
Allison, you touched on it a little bit, but as we look at the past I think there are some moments where digital marketing has encountered some changes and disruption to the industry. And so Monica, maybe you start us off on this one? Can you tell us a little bit more about how you see these moments impacting what we do today? How did we deal with them in the past? And how do we take it forward?
Monica: Allison touched on GDPR, and CASL, which in my experiences are the biggest destructors in email. That said, I do think that we have gained so much in the last year as marketers. We've become so agile and flexible to things like supply chain issues, shipping delays, and inventory challenges on the retail side that we've been able to be really flexible, and that's the biggest learning.
While we may not have all the answers, and we're sort of planning for the unpredictable, that is our biggest strength we’ve gained in the last year. While we may be talking about the specific tactics to make results better, GDPR and CASL were the biggest things and we've gotten through that, right?
It wasn't easy. It had an impact. And as you know, we've navigated the worst successfully. Marketing is all about iteration optimization, you have to start somewhere, and then you have to test. It's not a check the box and move on, it's continue to work on and optimize.
Allison M.: I would add that GDPR and CCPA were definitely challenges that we had to face as an industry. But even thinking back before that, before Facebook and social channels were what they are now, we were able to use them as marketing channels where you didn't have to pay to play. Where you could really control and own your own reach with your audience and control the message that you distributed to them. And then, of course, that all changed.
And when it changed, it was such an abrupt sort of a slap in the face for businesses whose livelihoods depended on their ability to reach these people who were engaging with them on these channels. But I think the takeaway is that there's always going to be these types of pressures.
It's like Monica said, we're just always being forced to adapt. I think the reality is that as an industry, the sooner that we iterate and adapt the better off we're all going to be specifically around things like changing KPIs. I think that the quicker we all get on board with it on the buy-side and the sell-side, the sooner we can kind of move forward collectively.
Monica: I agree 100%, I instantly thought “Accept the fate.” Let's just move forward.
Desta: I was going to say that I agree too. Change is inevitable. I mean, that's what we live and breathe. That's life. And so, how do we adapt to it? And how do we become smarter and learn from it in order to apply it forward?
So, slightly different question kind of related, is it still wise to focus on dormant and disengaged audiences? I know over many months of the pandemic, there was a lot of focus on this audience. And there are risks with deliverability in terms of domain reputation, etc. So, we'd like your take on that.
Allison M.: Sure, I can jump in on that. My opinion is, it's probably not the best place to put your resources. We've seen the post-COVID slump — there was a ton of engagement during peak 2020, but since then we've seen a lot of that drop off. There's been challenges across the board at all different types of media companies figuring out how to re-engage these users. That’s not to say it's not possible, but in my personal opinion, it might swing a little bit too far in one direction.
Let's focus where we have an audience that is engaged, try to build out that profile, and maximize that audience first. I think if ever there's a good time for us to be doing hygiene checks of our lists and get our audience to a good place, it's now. So, I would — rather than focusing on re-engaging the people who've been dormant — think more about how can we build upon the audience that's been incredibly engaged?
Desta: That makes sense. And maybe, Monica, your take on the retail side?
Monica: Well, it actually matches perfectly to what Allison said. I echo that and insist not to focus on dormant or disengaged audiences. Maybe that's a strategy for a different channel, but focus on retention before they become disengaged. Last year, many retailers saw a trim in budget and headcount. So, I typically guide my clients to focus on high-intent and high-value users and customers who generate the most results for all of their efforts.
Desta: Makes sense, If we look at this new world of privacy, does it still make sense to do A/B testing of subject lines? Or is that now irrelevant based on the information that we have available to us? And maybe, Allison, you can kick us off with that one?
Allison M.: I think that there's always going to be learnings that we can gather, even if they're not explicit. I think the bigger question is, “How quickly will the technology adapt to keep up?” Because really, what this means is that KPIs are changing. And the metrics that we once used to inform A/B testing — opens, for example, are no longer an option for us.
So, which metrics are we going to be using to trigger these signals? And I think that's a question for the technology partners that we all work with that will continue to evolve, I don't think we're going to have the answer all said and done by September when these updates are due to happen.
But, I do think it's very important to be having these conversations with your technology partners to understand what they're thinking about and how they're planning to adapt, knowing that metrics and the means of trigger are going to change.
Monica: I agree. You should absolutely continue your work subject line testing. A subject line is still a lever for a marketer to engage a subscriber or customer. But if I run an A/B test on winter subject lines based solely on open rate, I probably would put out some losers to be honest.
A subject line test should be looking at open rate to see the performance of the subject line, but it should also look all the way through to click to conversion and revenue. I'm focused on click, but I think it's important to follow the performance on your top winning metrics. So, if it's a first-time conversion rate on retail, or RPM, or revenue for your existing offers, run your subject line tests. It's still a lever for marketers, and look at a primary KPI.
Also, I wouldn't discount the data that is still available after this Apple privacy update. It's still a solid proxy for the rest of your audience and how they behave. And it's still a viable way to understand what your customers want to see or what they're reacting to.
Desta: Make sense. Coming from the product side and all of the solutions used out there, we've got to do a better job in helping to service the metrics that customers need to go beyond where they are with opens and clicks today and get to whatever is meaningful for their business. And so, I think we will continue to build off of that.
A more general question I have as I wear my hat as a mom of teenage girls who do a lot of things retail online: they get a lot of stuff, but will this change consumer behavior? How do we think that these changes will impact consumers differently on the media and retail sides?And how do we expect this to really change what consumers are doing?
Allison M.: I go back to the stat that I threw out earlier, that 83% of people are willing to hand over their data if it means a better, more personalized experience. And so I don't imagine that this is going to change consumer behavior directly. But I do worry about the impact it's going to have on consumer experiences with our brands.
There's a reason that personalization exists, of course. And there's a reason that we collect data and build segments and try to create profiles of our audience. Because the more we know about them, the better experience that we can serve them. I hope the pendulum isn’t swinging too far in the other direction, where it makes this type of personalization obsolete and leaves consumers with generic email experiences. Because that could affect their relationship with our brands. And that's obviously not what we're going for here. So, that's my concern with the Apple update.
Desta: And I'll say it just as a consumer, that isn't what I want either. Because that doesn't work for me or what I want in an experience. Monica, would love your take on the retail side.
Monica: So I put my consumer hat on, and I think about going on Instagram and seeing a pop up that says Show My Email or Hide My Email. Regardless of what I choose, t's always had my email and it's the default. I'm a marketer so that pains me to say it, but it's kind of autopilot mode. So, I don't think that the consumer is going to be aware of what impacts it'll have on the marketing and messaging they receive as a result. Meaning that I don't think that consumer behavior is going to change as a direct result of these Apple updates.
But, similar to what Allison said, down the line it's going to impact the relevancy of what we put in front of our consumers. As marketers, we need to sort of shift based on the decisions we can make and what we are able to collect. It may not be a return to analog and madmen advertising, but it's going to be a balance. And I think it puts more, I won't say pressure, but more of a focus on brand authenticity and storytelling.
That's something I know that, on the media side in Allison's world, is the product, right? And on the retail side, email has been such a revenue-generating channel that I think that it's evolving to be a part of a broader customer experience across many channels where the metrics of success are more focused on engagement. It’s shifting so many things that we have to take into consideration as far as how we are building relationships with the consumer, how to unlock better KPIs and metrics, and ultimately how to increase customer lifetime value.
Desta: So, we've touched on metrics a few times. If we dig into that a little bit more, what are other metrics that you think people can use as a new baseline as we go beyond opens and clicks? And how do we measure that? So Allison, why don't we go back to you?
Allison M.: It's hard to say specifically what those metrics are going to be. There are, of course, a number of them. I think we all know what they are. In my mind, the opportunity here is increasing focus on how to optimize for a customer experience. That's ultimately the direction that we should be heading in. Because if we have an optimal user experience, theoretically, all else should follow. And I think that shifts the focus a little bit.
It's not just about opens, it's about other actions that might be further down the funnel that might actually be more meaningful or be greater indicators of brand affinity or your likelihood to convert. I've seen this so many times within the industry and the industry's relationship with outside platforms. We become dependent on a certain way of doing things or measuring things, and then something like this happens where we're forced to change and it feels sort of like the world might end. But then we move past it, and find new ways of operating.
So, some of the other metrics to look at could be recency of signup, purchase (in Monica's case and in some cases on the media side as well), on-site behavior, and email engagement. I think that there's plenty of data that will still exist, it's really about surviving a paradigm shift within the industry to get everybody both on the media side and the advertising side to shift the way that they view their KPIs.
Monica: Agreed. We're not getting any new metrics out of this, if anything we're losing a little bit. But at the end of the day, there are top-line KPIs that we hold ourselves to in regards to goals and budgets, that in a retail organization that are not on the positive side of things. So, I think it's going to force us to be a little bit more creative on how we gauge performance, and it may involve some more qualitative ways of looking at how consumers are engaging with the brand. We're spoiled.
Desta: We can continue that way. We just have to figure out what to be spoiled about, I think. If we look at a specific example like, if I have a self-contained newsletter, what options do I have?
Monica: Allison, I'll take this one. I honestly think this may be the fun part of all this as a creative marketer. I think there are tools out there that may have been sort of nice-to-haves before that are now viewed as a necessary layer of your email toolkit, like Liveclicker for example.
There are a lot of tactics that have been used in social programs, like Instagram stories and live polls, that are great ways to get engagement and user clicks that can be easily translated into an email. And not only to generate the click, but to then pull back into your ESP and leverage for segmentation purposes that continue to collect zero-party first-party data to build those relevant messages. I think that is a really cool thing that could come out of it that we could see changing email campaigns.
Allison M.: I would add this is one of the first things that came to mind for me, because particularly in the media space we've seen such success with these types of self-contained newsletters where consumers are increasingly becoming accustomed to consuming their content in a way where they don't expect having to click to go back to a website to read the full story. The full story is in the email, and I don't anticipate that that's going to go away.
Like we were saying earlier, if you do right by the consumer and you provide a good experience that meets their needs, I'd like to believe that all else follows and falls into place. I don't want to say that it's all smoke and mirrors, but we shouldn't be changing our email strategies and changing what we deliver to our consumers because the KPIs don't line up, or don't make sense, or we can't report back to an advertiser about an open rate.
So, I think it's important to keep our focus on that. I know that that's easier said than done. But again, it's like I said before, the sooner that the industry as a whole adapts both on the buy-side and the sell-side, the sooner we can kind of move past this and get back to just focusing on creating great email experiences.
Desta: I think we’ll end our fireside chat there. Unfortunately, that's all the time we have today. Before we dive in deeper to each of our products, I want to thank both of you for joining us today. It's been very insightful to hear your perspectives coming out of the industry, and we look forward to having you back for some future conversations we will share.
As a note to everyone, these entire sessions will be sent out in a recording with a transcript within the next week. So you'll have an opportunity, if you want to go back, and listen to something that you missed.
We're not quite done yet. We're going to pause for five minutes now and give everyone a chance to take a short break. And after that, we'll be bringing back specific members of our product team who are going to walk you through best practices and advice for continuing to make the best use of the platform as these changes evolve, as well as answer your specific questions that you submitted. And so we look forward to that. Stay tuned and we will talk to you soon. Thank you.
Four Ways to Optimize Your Email Marketing Strategy Through Sailthru
Allison S.: Hi everyone, welcome to Sailthru's Webinar about Navigating an Evolving Privacy Environment. We hope that you got a lot of value out of our keynote with our Chief Product Officer and Chief Technology Officer today, as well as the fireside chat with some of our key Sailthru advisors.
We're going be talking a little bit more about Sailthru-specific questions and concerns you might have and some of the things that we have in store from the roadmap perspective that will help you navigate these changes.
So, you're going hear from me today. I'm Allison Stone. I'm the Vice President of Product here at Sailthru. And Nick?
Nick: Hello, I’m Nick Mauro, Senior Product Manager of Platforms, which covers the SRE and email teams.
Allison S.: Great. So, today we're going to be talking about how you can optimize your strategy amidst the changes that we're anticipating coming from Apple in the next couple of months. We're going to be looking ahead, as I mentioned, to some of the Sailthru features that you can look forward to and we'll take some of your questions live through the chat.
So, please start submitting those if you would like. Initially, we’re going to be covering some frequently asked questions that we've already pre-collected for this webinar. Right, so let’s jump into four key things that you should know. And again, these might be things that you've heard already if you listened to our keynote earlier with Desta and Tom.
Nick: This first one we'll be hearing a lot more of throughout the presentation, and it's looking beyond opens and clicks. It's all about discovering new, implicit models to measure your customers' engagement that don't rely on open and click data.
Allison S.: And then number two, we consider audience segmentation by device to be an old trick. We'll talk a little bit more about why that's really going to be no longer reliable, why that is critical to know, and some other metadata that will become less reliable too. Going forward, you should explicitly ask for that information in surveys or on landing pages because that's some of the metadata that will become less reliable if captured by the device.
Nick: And number three is a bit similar, but just focusing on location data. For a subset of Apple users, we will not be able to rely on their IP address in order to determine their timezone. Specifically, this will be users who are using Apple's paid iCloud Plus plan.
Allison S.: And number four, additional personal identifiers are going to be your friend if you're trying to connect the conversion bridge from campaign to conversion with an email address, That's going to be increasingly difficult for some of those users that might be using the Hide My Email feature, which we'll talk more about. You're going to want to collect additional personal identifiers, such as phone number or social media handle, for example.
Optimizing Your Strategy: Audience Segmentation and Targeting
Now, let’s dive a little bit more into how you can optimize your strategy as you're using Sailthru on a daily basis. And first, we're going to be talking about segmentation and targeting.
Nick: We broke these out by the goal that you may have, how these changes are gonna affect that goal, and then some recommendations. So, the goal for this one is to be able to segment your target audience by attributes such as the kind of device, or the kind of browser, or even the kind of operating system on the phone. With Apple's changes, this sort of metadata is not going to be available for the majority of iOS 15 and Mac OS users.
Allison S.: Given that, we recommend that you really explicitly collect that information on signup, or during a welcome series. We have this nice visual that the Sailthru design team put together for us that just shows how you might want to tackle that. So, you can actually update your landing pages to for example, ask about their mobile preferences if they're using Apple or Android. And what you really want to think about is start planning this now to proactively launch campaigns to collect that information using landing pages or surveys. Next, we're going to talk about automation and intelligence.
Optimizing Your Strategy: Personalized vs. Local Send Time
Nick: And so for this one, the goal is all about delivering email at a time when the reader is most likely to engage with that email. There's two features that support this goal. One is personalized send time, and the second is local send time.
For personalized send time, currently the algorithm we use at Sailthru relies on open data in order to power it. We are thinking about ways to modify the algorithm so that it's less reliant on opens and Allison will talk more about that a little bit later on. For local send time, we’re building a second feature right out of the gate to not rely on open data and instead only to rely on quick data because we believe that iOS 15 and Mac OS updates will not affect the success of it.
Allison S.: Right. So, local send time is definitely going to be a huge value-add and we're so excited to launch that at some point in this calendar quarter. What you want to do also, similar to the last recommendation, is really start thinking about how you can analyze and benchmark existing user behavior today so that you can document those lessons learned for later.
If you are leveraging personalized send time or if you're finding that certain send times are better for your open rate, you really want to document that now so that you won't have to do some guesswork later. You also might want to update your automation series so that your Lifecycle Optimizer flows, for example, use clicks instead of opens. If you have something that's triggered based on an opening of a previous email, you're really going to want to switch those to use that click data.
As you can see, a lot of these are really related. A lot of these strategies rely on each other, automations, analytics, and measurement to work. Next, we're going to dive into a couple of topics relating specifically to analytics.
Optimizing Your Strategy: Everything You Need to Know About Email Analytics
Nick: Yes, this is similar to the one you just went over. But in this case, we're looking at smart list audiences. Instead of leveraging the attribute of opens, we're encouraging you to start switching to the attribute of clicks. Let’s apply this thinking to the same concept Allison was just talking about with the flow.
Instead of having a particular step be triggered by whether or not a profile opened an email, you can have a smart list that adds a new subscriber to it based on whether they click something in an email rather than whether they just open the email.
Allison S.: Right. So, you can see some of those very classic Sailthru examples here on the right. When you segment users in Audience Builder or you create a smart list based on a snapshot report, you really want to continue to look at that click data instead of open data.
So, entice users within your emails with a short survey or a call to action that initiates a click. Whereas you might have previously had more information in your message that just relies on that browsing behavior, that scanning behavior. You really want to drive the click, so that you can get the data that you need to optimize your marketing strategy.
Optimizing Your Strategy: Building a Data-Driven Email Strategy
Nick: So, for this final goal, we know that you often want to be able to attribute a value-created event, such as signing up for a subscription or making a purchase, back to an email or back to a campaign that was sent. With Apple's new Hide My Email feature, users are able to create these burner email addresses that only they know are tied back to their real email address.
And so, this creates a problem where you may be unable to know what campaign actually led to the purchase or the newsletter subscription if the reader put in one of these burner email addresses when they went to make the purchase or when they went to sign up for the newsletter.
Allison S.: So based on that, we recommend that you circumvent this impact by collecting additional information during a welcome series or during that conversion process to help identify the user. In this screenshot that you can see, you might want to ask for a phone number. And we'll talk some more about how you might actually want to leverage an additional channel to convert on that phone number.
We're excited to be building some functionality within Sailthru that really expands our capabilities within SMS. You could also consider exploring how one-time-use promo codes within your ecommerce platform could be tied to a specific email address. You might have to do some of that mapping on your own side. But, I think this could be an interesting way for you retailers to leverage one-time-use promo codes that are directly tied to the email address and really connect the dots with respect to conversion.
A Sneak Peek of the Sailthru Product Roadmap
Okay, so now we're going to look ahead to some of the items that we've recently released or are looking forward to on the Sailthru roadmap that might also help you address some of these concerns that you'll need to be on the lookout for with respect to the Apple changes.
One thing that we launched last quarter that we're super excited about is a brand new, bidirectional integration with the CDP Segment — which, many of you already know. And why this matters with respect to this conversation today is that we've talked a lot about kind of connecting the dots with additional information, collecting more metadata within your welcome series or within your website or sign-up process, etc.
Many of you might actually be leveraging other data sources and Segment really allows you to connect Sailthru very easily to those data sources. So, whether or not you're already leveraging Segment, just know that we do have a bidirectional integration that's super easy to set up.
And a couple other things that are actively under development. I previously mentioned that we are working on a really tight integration with SMS provider Attentive that helps you actually orchestrate omnichannel marketing strategies with Attentive SMS.
If you're collecting that phone number upon signup, then you can retarget them using that phone number and try to convert them over SMS instead. This will be fully personalizable with Zephr and super easy to set up in Sailthru’s integration settings. Additionally, we're going to be able to provide you total sent message metrics, which is something that is a big addition and will continue to be adding additional analytics for SMS in the future.
Okay, and then on to this next feature that Nick already kind of covered in the previous slides. We're really excited to launch local timezone sending. As you can see, it's called out on this slide. And as we talked about before, this is not going to largely be affected by the Apple changes with iOS 15.
However, with the exception of those iCloud Private Relay users, that location coverage will be greatly expanded. For example, they will only be targeted to their country versus their timezone. We do anticipate that being a small amount of users, but we'll have to see. However, we think that this is going to be a really exciting feature that many of you can take advantage of in the coming months.
And lastly, looking beyond opens and clicks. We've been anticipating this being key to many marketers' strategies. Of course, we didn't anticipate all the changes that Apple was going to make, but we're ready for you. We are going to be working on custom event attribution within Sailthru because we really want to enable you to think beyond opens and clicks. Not only now, but in the future.
So, you're going to be able to define and send in those custom events to our platform that matter most to your business. In this example here, you can define that a user has submitted a review, you can segment with an audience builder based on users that have completed that custom event, and then you can track a customer's behavior over time.
The Answers to Digital Marketing’s Most Frequently Asked Questions
So, next we're going to talk a little bit about some questions that we have aggregated over time. Since this Apple news came out, we really started to hear a lot of very similar questions. So, we're going to tackle some of the top FAQs.
Nick: First question, “Will this cause my open rates to go up or go down?”
Allison S.: This was a top FAQ a while ago, but I think we really hammered this one home already with the content that we've addressed with you today. The short story is this will definitely increase open rates for those Apple Mail users due to that pre-fetching of the image. So, the pixel or what we at Sailthru call the beacon is going to be downloaded — meaning that it’s really not going to be indicative of a true open rate. Your open rates are going to go up, and that's something that we just want to make sure that you have strategies to get around leveraging other data instead of that open.
Nick: Next question, “Will this affect my use of on-site analytics for tracking?”
Allison S.: So, we've done a lot of testing across CM Group. I think that's one of the really cool benefits of being at Sailthru among a whole portfolio of brands. We've done a lot of research on our own and leaned into some of the industry research. And really the short answer is no. Our testing has shown there's no indication of any kind of query string parameters being removed from URLs.
Nick: And related question, “Will this interrupt my click tracking?”
Allison S.: Clicks will still be tracked as they happen. We talked a lot today about clicks. Clicks are going to be increasingly important. So, our testing shows no indication that Apple is going to pre-fetch a link in advance of a user clicking. We really do think that that is going to be a true metric for you as opposed to that open metric.
Nick: And finally, “Can I segment out my Apple users?”
Allison S.: You can. However, we really don't recommend this long-term, I kind of liken this question and this solution to that kind of whack-a mole-analogy. We really think that it's going to be harder going forward to continue to try to segment out Apple users to circumvent these impacts that you're going to see on your marketing strategy. So, existing segmentation will be accurate up until these changes roll out, but it's just not a good long-term strategy.
Hopefully, we've got some questions in the chat. Nick, do you wanna take a look and see if we got any coming in?
Nick: Let's see. There's one here on how these changes affect our existing Personalized Send Time feature. We touched on this very quickly earlier on. Our Personalized Send Time feature is powered by this algorithm, and that algorithm does rely on open data in order to get a sense for when the recipients are opening or checking their email. And so, as things stand now, that feature will not be affected by these changes from Apple. With that said, we are already looking into a way to modify that algorithm so that it will rely on clicks rather than opens.
Allison S.: Great. Alright, I think there's one more here that I'm scrolling through. There's a couple of other questions that I believe we really already addressed. So, in the interest of time, let's look at this one around A/B testing subject lines. And, Nick, I can take that one. I've worked a lot on the A/B testing side of things at Sailthru.
So the question here is, “Will we be able to meaningfully A/B test subject lines?” That's a really interesting question, actually, because anyone who actively A/B tests subject lines typically is looking at how that's impacting open rate, which is commonly the first indicator of success for subject line testing.
So again, you probably know what we're going to say here, but you're going to want to look at clicks instead. You're going to want to modify your content within the email to drive that click behavior. You can certainly still A/B test subject lines, but you're not going to want to measure the success of those tests by open rate. Instead, you're really going to want to look at how many users are clicking, which is really gonna be the new metric to look at.
I think that's all we have today. So, I think we're going to wrap up. We thank you so much for joining us today. I know this is a lot of information, but hopefully with all the information that we've provided you today, we gave you a running start in how you rethink some of your email and omnichannel marketing strategies as you partner with our Sailthru team. Feel free to hit up your Customer Success Manager or your support representative with any other questions or concerns you might have. And, thanks again.
Nick: Thank you guys.