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How Will iOS 15 Privacy Changes Affect My Email Marketing?

Apple recently announced the release of iOS 15 for iPhones. And, similar to the last update, there’s even more privacy changes in store. While this spells good news for privacy-conscious users, it’s creating quite a stir for digital marketers – and the businesses that rely on a lot of the ‘assumed data’ to successfully advertise to their customers.

The details of the release include:

  • IP addresses will be hidden in Safari and mail apps
  • Mail Privacy Protection will block email open tracking
  • App Privacy Report will give people increased visibility of which domains are contacted
  • Scheduled to be released around September 2021

What this means for email marketing

First of all, it’s not all doom and gloom! Mail Privacy Protection only applies to users who use Apple’s Mail app on a mobile device. For some businesses, this could be a small subset of their database – for others, it could be the majority. But one thing’s for sure, it’s a level playing field. All email service providers (ESPs) and businesses will be impacted in the same way. 

Secondly, the update does not block all email tracking. It will mainly impact email open tracking and analytics, however at this stage we don’t anticipate it will affect other email analytics. This means you’ll still be able to track click rates and other metrics.

One thing to keep in mind, if you do send email campaigns to your database, the success metrics you’re used to tracking will naturally look poorer. While some email platforms will retroactively track opens (based on click data) – every email marketer knows that click rates are always significantly lower than open rates. 

What can you do to minimise impact? 

A good start would be to refamiliarise yourself with your current data. What platforms are your customers using to access your emails? If the majority are using desktop or Android devices, you won’t have a lot to worry about. 

If you do have a significant number of Apple Mail users in your database, don’t panic just yet. There’s still plenty of things you can do. For example, you could review what your current click rates look like. This will be crucial, as you can create a baseline to compare it to after the change and know whether your performance is the same, better or (hopefully not) worse.

If you’re currently segmenting your audiences before sending emails, you should also update your definition of what an engaged audience is. We recommend looking more at click rates, whether they’ve been active on your website, whether they’ve placed an order or submitted an enquiry, or whether they are new to your database. Reviewing the last 90 days is a good place to start.

If you’re not segmenting – now is the time to get started!

What can you do to maximise opportunity?

We told you it wasn’t all bad news. All change is scary, but this one comes with a lot of low-hanging fruit.

SMS marketing

One suggestion would be to consider introducing an SMS strategy. According to the Australian Spam Act 2003, when a user opts in to marketing, this covers both SMS and email channels. Of course, that’s assuming they provide you with their mobile phone number. If this isn’t data you currently collect, now would be a good time to start doing so.

Focus on deliverability

Every email marketer has been guilty of this at one stage in their career. Often it’s quicker to “spray and pray” – if you send a 60% optimised email, you’ll still get some decent results if your database is big enough.

But without a reliable open rate metric or engaged audience, it’s harder to know if what you did was as successful as before. And if we’re honest with ourselves, is an open rate really that strong of a metric? Impressive stopped focusing on “vanity metrics” for social media a long time ago, so it’s definitely time email marketers did the same!

That’s why you should take this opportunity to optimise all of your email content and design for conversion. Is your call to action strong? Have you followed best practices to avoid triggering spam filters? Are you optimising for all platforms? (Or at least, the platform that the majority of your segment is using). 

Automate, without assumptions

A lot of email automation strategies and segments rely on ‘assumed data’ – the exact data the iOS 15 update is set to block. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a robust automation strategy. 

Instead of relying on things like IP location, cookies or ‘predicted’ properties, you can create workflows that are triggered by real-time behaviours. For example, if someone fills out a form, downloads an eBook or (in the case of eCommerce), abandons their cart. Best of all, these behaviours all suggest the user is engaged. They’re waiting to hear from you, so now is the time to impress.

The good news is you’ve still a couple of months to make all these changes! Set your reminders for September 2021.

Need help preparing your CRM, ESP or email marketing for the upcoming iOS 15 changes? Reach out to our team today – we have experts in Email Marketing and Automation who are happy to help or happy to consult with you.


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