In September of 2021, the Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature was launched. This feature was designed to give users more control over their personal information. In essence, the Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature blocks email marketing teams from viewing the recipient’s email open rates.
As you might imagine, there has been a lot of conversation surrounding Apple Mail Privacy Protection in 2022. Unfortunately, much of that has been centered around predictions that email marketing would be rendered virtually ineffective.
Don’t panic. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to connect with your audience. Your best approach is to learn as much as possible about Apple Mail Privacy Protection in 2022 and to rethink how you use metrics to improve your campaigns. We’ve provided much of the information you need in this article.
What Is Apple Mail Privacy Protection?
Apple Mail Privacy Protection was established to give Apple users better control of their personal information. Specifically, Apple wanted to give the people using its mail app the choice of hiding information relating to when or where they were opening their emails.
As a result, brands can no longer see if or when prospects are opening their email marketing messages.
Always Confirm Opt-Ins
When subscribers take a very active role in signing up for email lists, marketers may assume that they don’t need to follow up with a confirmation. This assumption is incorrect.
It’s still important to send out a confirmation email to ensure the person didn’t sign up by mistake or that they haven’t changed their mind. This step also confirms that the email address is valid.
How Does Apple Mail Privacy Protection Work?
Email marketing platforms often send out emails with tracking pixels that allow them to gather the following information:
- When the email was opened
- The recipient’s location
- The device they were using when they opened the email
When Apple Mail Privacy Protection is in effect, that information is no longer relayed back to the sender. Instead, all of the content and images in the email, including the tracking pixel, are privately downloaded to the user’s device. This occurs whether the email has been opened or not.
Why Do Users Want Privacy Protection?
Information such as IP address, device type, and email opens aren’t used solely by legitimate businesses to engage with interested customers who have already opted in. This information can and has been used to spam users. Also, many people simply don’t want their online behaviors to be transparent to any entity.
How Will Email Marketing Be Impacted by Apple Mail Privacy Protection?
With Apple Mail Privacy Protection, emails sent to Apple users will be marked as read regardless of whether they were or not. Because of this, email open rates are no longer useful as an email marketing metric.
This move has a far-reaching impact. Apple is an extraordinarily popular platform, and Apple Mail ships as the default email application on Apple devices. It would be safe to assume that a significant number of emails from your campaigns go to Apple users.
Currently, Apple Mail Privacy Protection is optional. However, many people who are offered a privacy protection option take it.
This has led to numerous changes to email marketing. As an increasing number of customers take advantage of privacy protection features, email marketers can expect the following consequences:
- Click-to-open rates will be unreliable across the board
- Features that happen upon email opening may no longer work
- Engagement segmentation may not work as well
- Resending unopened emails is no longer an option
- A/B testing for subject lines is not possible
- Individual user data will not be available
Marketing teams are simply less privy to what a subscriber does online.
These changes have also impacted email personalization. However, some things have not changed: Emails may still be personalized with the recipient’s name. Content within emails can still be customized according to user behavior and preferences.
However, since engagement metrics are no longer reliable, those should no longer be used to personalize emails. A better way to determine engagement is to focus on how often the subscriber clicks on elements within the email.
High Impact Strategies to Keep Your Email Marketing Working
There is no denying that Apple Mail Privacy Protection has thrown off email marketing teams. However, there are many available options for measuring whether an email marketing campaign is working as planned or not.
Things may seem daunting, particularly if you have relied heavily on email open rates as a means of measuring performance. Fortunately, we have some alternative strategies that will work for you.
Change How Email Drip Campaigns Are Triggered
Currently, you may have automated emails or drip campaigns that are triggered depending on whether a target user has opened an email or not. This will no longer be an option if you want to target or retarget recipients effectively. Instead, you can rely on the following actions to trigger automated email responses:
- Setting a period of time to send follow-up emails
- Tracking when users click a link
- Acting on behavioral triggers, such as downloading a free trial
- Triggering emails on event dates, including birthdays or holidays
To a great extent, successful email drip campaigns require you to be creative in your marketing efforts and recognize diverse and innovative opportunities to reach customers.
Double Down on Click-Worthy Content
This is the perfect time to return to some of the classic rules of content marketing. Specifically, if you haven’t prioritized providing your audience with engaging content that answers their questions, solves problems, and entertains them, it’s time to refocus on that.
Save promotional content for truly newsworthy events such as holidays, special events, and product launches.
Too much promotion can have a short-term positive impact on sales. However, it’s a turnoff for many subscribers. Eventually, more of them will simply ignore your emails, unsubscribe, or report them as spam.
Given these recent changes, your email marketing needs to focus on serving up relevant content at just the right time. This is a great time to consider elements beyond text. Focus on design elements that are more pleasing to the eye. Then, incorporate images and videos into marketing emails to ensure they have an even bigger impact.
Finally, the content in your outreach emails shouldn’t be everything your subscribers are looking for. Instead, they should contain just enough content to act as a teaser. The idea is to get readers to click through to that important landing page, blog post, or services page.
Use Other Metrics to Track Email Campaign Success
Since Apple launched Mail Privacy Protection, many marketing teams have stopped using open rates as a primary performance-tracking metric. Instead, they rely on a combination of other factors that help them understand how their campaigns are unfolding.
Here are some metrics that stand out as being particularly useful:
List Growth Rate
List growth rate measures the addition of new subscribers, balanced by the number of people who have unsubscribed.
The click rate (often called click-through rate) is the percentage of subscribers who click on a link included in the email content.
What percentage of subscribers take a predefined action in response to reading your email? This number is the conversion rate.
Forwarding data allows you to see if your marketing campaign has motivated people to share your content with others.
Return on Investment
Your ROI compares the total revenue generated from a specific email marketing campaign to the amount of money that you have invested in it.
Remember that it is nearly impossible to say which metrics are best for your business. That depends on your business model, marketing goals, and more. Targeted research can help you determine which metrics will tell you what you need to know about your marketing campaigns.
Use Best Practices to Maximize Email Open Rates
Email open rates may not be nearly as easily discernable as they were before. However, those open rates are still important. Even without concrete numbers, you should be actively taking steps to encourage people to open your emails. Use these suggestions to get started:
Don’t Obscure the Sender
Marketing emails should come from a sender that is known and trusted. Emails from “sales” or “info” may seem spammy to recipients.
Write a Clickable Subject Line
Your subject lines need to do more work than ever. Remember that those new metrics you will be tracking all start with subscribers being compelled to open your email and engage with the content. This is going to be largely driven by your subject line.
Add a Preview Text
Carefully craft the text that will be visible just under the subject line. Punchier preview text will encourage recipients to open your email.
Make Your Emails Interactive
You can determine that your subscribers are opening and reading your emails if you include interactive elements. Add polls, surveys, and other clickable features. These should be engaging enough that people want to click. There is an additional benefit here as you will be able to gain valuable insights from your subscribers.
Increase Your Calls to Action
You should also work on the calls to action you include in your email. A strong CTA with a compelling message will get people to click more often. They should be visually striking to stand out from the rest of the email. You can also place them in multiple locations to encourage people to answer your call to action as they read and scroll.
Best Practices for a Privacy-Focused Future
Apple may have initiated this latest change that impacts email marketing, but it is likely to become more widespread. Privacy concerns are increasing, and people are demanding that their technology providers respond to their concerns. The most successful marketing teams will anticipate these changes and be ready to pivot.
If your email marketing is built on a strong platform with access to expert help for your campaigns, you are already off to a great start. Reach out to Contact Consumers to learn more.