Be prepared for Apple Mail Privacy Protection

By 8 September 2021September 9th, 2021No Comments
Apple Mail Privacy Protection

The arrival of Apple Mail Privacy Protection in September 2021 will affect the strategy of email marketing departments of all companies. Why? Because this new protection affects the reliability of the email open rate, as Apple will distort it by automatically opening all emails from its customers. This article will discuss the true impact of this development and will give you concrete advice to be prepared.

Open, click and conversion rates are traditionally used to measure the success of an email marketing campaign . And, according to several studies, such as the recentresearch by the  Email Committee of DDMA (Netherlands), the open rate is the most important KPI for specialists in email marketing.   

How do you measure whether an email has been opened or not? Inside the emails there is a pixel, a tiny image that is not visible, which when opened, returns information such as opening time, what browser, operating system and IP address was used to open it.

What it is Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

Apple will release the MPP as part of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey. Once Apple users update their operating system to this version, they will probably be asked whether they want to protect their personal email activity. It is even possible that Apple enable this option by default for current users.

What does it mean to protect your personal email activity? We have previously talked about the hidden pixel in the emails that sends information to ESPs about openings, etc. Apple, when a user indicates that wants to protect his/her privacy, will open the emails sent to that user on its own servers before sending them to the recipient’s inbox. This means that all emails will appear as opened as all images, including the “open pixel”, will be downloaded by Apple at the time an ESP delivers the email .

As a result: the open rate is no longer relevant.

All users who have activated Apple Mail Privacy Protection will appear with an open rate of 100% , so you will not be able to determine the real open rate. And, consequently, the click to open rate (CTO) will also be affected.

Let’s take an example:

A mailing campaign normally has an open rate of 40% and a click rate of 10%, therefore it will have a CTO of 25%. If we know that 28% of the opens are done via an Apple mail client, we can expect that of the 60% non-openers also 28% is using Apple mail.

In the new scenario, with Mail Privacy Protection, where there is a 100% adoption of the clients with Apple MPP, this will lead to an open rate of 56,8%, the click rate stays the same at 10%, but therefore the click to open will be reduced to 17,6%.

Another collateral damage of MPP will be the operation of the real time or conditional content. The email will be downloaded entirely on Apple’s servers when it is sent, and Apple caches the images for at least 48 hours. As a result, real-time content, such as a countdown clock, which is normally updated with each opening, does not change.

What is the real impact?

Apple’s announcement has caused quite a stir in the email marketing industry . The change only affects users of Apple using the native Apple Mail app in iOS 15, 15 and MacOS iPadOS Monterey. If the recipient has an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, but uses a different email app, such as Gmail or Outlook, this update will not take effect. On the contrary, just by having your Gmail or Outlook account downloaded in one of the Apple Mail apps, even if you never check your emails through these apps, the update will take effect.

To assess the real impact, we have to take into account two historical data:

  • Not all Apple users immediately upgrade to a new operating system. For example, the last iOS14 was released in September 2020 and only 85% of all modern iPhones has it installed.
  • The previous Apple privacy measures, for example the protection against third-party cookies have been very well received.  95% of US users have accepted it.

Therefore, open rates are sure to be affected as adoption of the new operating system increases.

Apple Mail Privacy Protection

Which are the consequences for email marketing?

Due to the launch of Apple Mail Privacy Protection, the open rate will no longer be reliable and, therefore, several of the email marketing processes will need changes. For example, campaigns that are activated based on an email opening or not will no longer be relevant. Or keep your clearing database depending on whether a contact is active or not active due to its openings. Likewise, as we have commented, if real-time content is used, it will not be loaded for users that have the option activated.

With all this, it is clear that Apple Mail Privacy Protection will impact email marketing strategies, but if you’re well prepared for this change, you can reduce its impact .

What can you do now to be prepared?

The first step to take is to create, if you don’t already have it, a historical analysis of the results of your email campaigns. You will not be able to know the real impact if you cannot compare results.

Another essential step to take is to analyse all the marketing processes that are based on the opening of an email.

The following questions can help you:

  • What percentage of your database uses the Apple Mail app? If it is very small, it may not be worth making a lot of changes. Although it would be important to make historical comparisons to monitor an increase in users.
  • Within which campaigns is the open rate considered the most important metric It would be interesting to analyse if the metric can be changed to another such as clicks.     
  • In which tests is the open rate a decisive metric? Take, for example, subject line A / B tests.
  • What automatic flows are based on the metric opens ? Forexample, a follow-up or a reactivation campaign.
  • What email campaigns use dynamic or real-time content ? Consider emails with appointment details, countdown or location blocks.
  • Do you perform clearing lists based on openings? It is good practice to filter inactive contacts, by last open date. Try to use another metric to determine if a contact is active or not.

Once this first analysis is done, you will be able to see what actions you can take to prepare yourself and how you can monitor the impact of the change that Apple Mail Privacy Protection will entail.

Do you have any questions about Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

Contact us. Our experts are happy to help you!