Apple Mail Privacy Protection In 2022: What Email Senders Need to Know

December 12, 2021

    Let's get straight to the point: Apple Mail Privacy Protection update will transform how email marketing is done forever. However, there is good news too. As an email marketer if you plan now and adapt to the new update of iOS 15, you'll be well-positioned to take advantage of any new opportunities that arise. Yes, you heard it right!

    Apple Mail Privacy Protection in 2021: What Email Senders Need to Know
    Image from Unsplash by Aditya Joshi

    Your marketing emails may have been experiencing increased open rates due to Apple's Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). Apple released MPP for Apple Mail on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 devices on September 20. Apple claims that Mail Privacy Protection obscures your IP address so senders are unable to link it with other online activities or locate you. This limits the ability of the sender to see whether or when you have opened their email.

    A user who enables MPP will receive Apple Mail content shortly after it has been delivered, which means that the time that the email is viewed may not be accurate. It will still be possible for marketers to see that emails were opened, regardless of whether the customer read them or not, and the location and type of device will be hidden from view.

    No matter what email service is used, such as Gmail or your company's email address, the issue affects all emails opened through Apple Mail on any device.

    The goal of your company is to provide subscribers with the best possible experience, which extends to how you handle their data. You can adjust your email marketing strategy and improve your efforts while respecting subscribers' privacy by taking advantage of Apple's new feature.

    Throughout this article, we'll outline Apple's new privacy feature and explain how you can prepare yourself as a marketer.

    Table of Contents

    What Is Apple Mail?

    The Apple Mail app (also known as Mail on Apple devices) is Apple's email app on iOS, watchOS, and macOS.

    A number of email providers are preconfigured to work with it, including Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, and iCloud. This makes it a popular email app among Apple devices users. iPhone and Apple Mail take up 50.4% of the market, respectively grabbing the number 1 and 3 spots, while Gmail comes in at number 2 with 27.2%.

    Update On Apple's Mail Privacy Protection: What Is It?

    The company announced new privacy and security features in iOS 15 and the new Mac OS Monterey. You will be prompted to opt-in to Apple's Mail Privacy Protection if you have an iOS 15-enabled Apple device and use the Mail app. Your IP address will be hidden from the sender if you choose the opt-in setting, which is set by default. A testing study has demonstrated that the message content (including tracking pixels) will be preloaded before a recipient opens an email sent by Apple Mail.

    As a result of pre-loading the message content and sending it ahead, the sender will appear to have opened the email, regardless of whether the recipient actually opened it. The time, device, and location in which those who have opened the mail will not be visible. Open Rate (OR) data in your database (relating to Apple Mail clients) will give incorrect results if your open rate (OR) increase is tied to it.

    What Does Mail Privacy Protection Do?

    When someone opens up the Apple Mail app for the first time, they'll see a message asking them whether they wish to protect or not protect their mail activity. This feature is not enabled by default. Users will have to choose if they want it enabled.

    The Mail Privacy Protection feature will be turned on by default in your email settings if you do not use Apple Mail as your default email client. If you choose one option, it will be applied to all associated devices with the same Apple ID.

    Upon a user's request for "Protect Mail Activity," Apple routes emails through a proxy server to preload message content, including tracking pixels, before delivering them to recipients. This is done even if recipients neglect to open the email.

    It's likely that Apple will make improvements to MPP as time goes on, but for now, the way this works is as follows:

    1. Upon starting the Apple Mail app, the subscriber's email is downloaded from their email provider (e.g., Yahoo, or Google).
    2. All images in an email are archived by Apple's Privacy Cache at indeterminate intervals (could be immediately or a few days later). Downloads are triggered by proxy servers with IP addresses assigned to subscribers' general regions, which masks their precise location. During this time, subscribers must have the Mail app running in the background and connected to a wireless network.
    3. As part of the caching process, Apple retrieves the images and tracking pixels from the email service provider (ESP), which informs the ESP that the email has been opened.
    4. Upon opening, the subscriber triggers a request to download and display the email's images; however, the images come from Apple's cache rather than the ESP or sender's server. This means that the actual open rate will not be displayed.

    This means you cannot find out if anyone has opened your email when they have opened it, or from which location they opened it.

    Apple Mail Privacy: How Will It Impact Email Marketing?

    As a follow-up to our discussion of the feature's basic functionality, the purpose of this section is to examine how Apple's Mail Privacy Protection will affect email marketing.

    Open-rate Metrics

    Incorrect open-rate metrics will prevent Apple Mail subscribers from using them for email list building. The number of open emails is likely to increase as Apple Mail returns an open once it pre-loads email contents. It is still possible to use metrics such as click-through rate (CTR) and others that we will discuss below:

    The following metrics are also worth considering:

    • What is the return on your investment (ROI)? Are you generating enough revenue to meet or exceed your targets? If not, what can you do to increase it? You may need to optimize your email campaigns for conversions.
    • Growth of your list compared to your unsubscribe rate - Are you gaining more subscribers than you are losing? If so, that means you're on the right track! Otherwise, you may want to reevaluate your content. Your subscribers can also tell you what they want to see by conducting a survey.
    • Subscribers forwarding your emails - If subscribers are regularly forwarding your emails to their contacts, this is an indication that your emails are providing value that deserves to be shared.

    A/B Testing

    The results of A/B tests for subject lines will be inaccurate if your subscribers use Apple Mail. Unconfirmed opens can skew the results if the test receives a large number. Click rate is a more effective way to measure success.

    The Use Of IP Addresses For Segmentation And Targeting

    Emails tailored to specific locations or segmented based on IP addresses will not be successful for segmentation and targeting. It will be impossible to identify the location or online behavior of Apple mail users as their IP addresses will be masked. You can use subscriber data to target people based on their behavior through signup forms and surveys, and you can also ask them for data when they register.

    Countdown Timers

    You may have problems using countdown timers. Due to the preloading and caching of email content, the subscriber's countdown timer will show the original time remaining from when the email was originally downloaded. It will not reflect the time when the email was opened. ESPs will have to come up with a solution in this case.

    Triggers For Automation

    The automation system based on open events will need a rethink and an adjustment. Lead nurture, auto resend, re-engagement, and send time optimization campaigns will suffer because of the inability to obtain reliable open rates. Marketers should alter how they run campaigns to reduce exposure to this type of spam, for instance, by triggering emails with time-based rules or clicking rather than opening.

    Subscriber List

    Open rates for emails will no longer be used to measure subscriber engagement and list health. Obviously, there's no way to tell whether opens are genuine or not, so this can't be relied upon to clean up lists. Thanks to Apple Mail, only emails from active accounts will appear in the cache, so you will at least know which accounts are valid.

    Apple Mail Privacy Protection: What Does It Mean For Email Marketers?

    Apple Mail will likely show an email address as open as long as it is configured to receive messages from the Apple Mail app, regardless of whether the message has been opened. Due to this, marketers are experiencing inflated open rates with Apple Mail apps, where they may see 100% open rates.

    Additionally, IP address hiding has resulted in geographic targeting gaps. Apple Mail can show the general location information, but the postcode or precise location details may not be captured correctly when the email is opened.

    The problem means that senders won't be able to track email open rates, and the content of emails in response to a specific location won't display correctly. Even if the recipient ignores an email sent to Apple Mail users with Mail Privacy Protection, the message will still be displayed as open.

    How cool would it be if you had 100% open rates? Perhaps not. The way you measure and track email performance may be affected by automatic opens. It may also affect campaigns that rely on automatic opens as a filter.

    Many email marketers have always valued open rates as the key metric of success, but some businesses are looking beyond open rates in this current era to measure their campaign success.

    How Can Marketers Prepare Themselves To Adjust With Apple Mail Privacy?

    Start Using Click Rates To Measure Success

    In light of the possible decrease in the reliability of open data, you should consider alternative means of measuring your email program's performance. Click rate seems to be a good substitute for open rate.

    There was already a strong argument that click rate is a stronger, more reliable signal of positive engagement than open rate even before Apple announced MPP. A more accurate measure of engagement is a click since they are intentional.

    This debate will almost certainly be ended by the MPP. Take advantage of click activity as one of your primary measures for gauging engagement with your email program now. Here are some tips for switching to clicks as your main metric to evaluate engagement:

    • You should use clicks to evaluate your engagement-based sunsetting policies instead of opens.
    • Measuring A/B test performance with clicks.
    • Establishing benchmarks for click rates. Assess your current click rates based on historical data. You will always have lower click rates than open rates.
    • Any reports or dashboards you review or present frequently should replace open rates with click rates.

    Re-Engage Customers More Regularly With Multichannel Campaigns

    The first re-engagement campaign was sent more than a decade ago. Senders now use engagement recency to determine when to send re-engagement campaigns. A re-engagement campaign might be sent to a recipient who hasn't opened or clicked a message in 6 months in order to check whether they still wish to receive mail from you. They are removed from your mailing list if they do not click the re-engagement message.

    This strategy should be reevaluated. As a reliable measure of engagement with the MPP update, clicks are still a good indicator. A click indicates engagement. In contrast, if you find out that some recipients open every message but never click, you should consider this a new indicator of non-engagement.

    It will be more crucial than ever to guide your users to take affirmative engagement actions, as clicks are less easy to come by and some messages are opened but not clicked. The best way to achieve this is by using alternate channels, such as SMS and push, and by re-engaging users often.

    Make CTAs More Prominent to Increase Click-throughs

    The chances of getting a click are lower when sending emails compared to openings. That doesn't mean you should standstill. If you're looking to increase click-through rates and encourage more clicks, there are a few things you can do. You can customize your emails to be shorter and more concise by developing stronger and more prominent calls to action. You will gain much more from this than just more engagement data.

    Get A Direct Line Of Communication With Your Customers

    Based on each open, marketers were able to identify a user's language, time zone, location, and other preferences. There's a paradigm shift coming - and if you don't adapt, your audience segmentation and targeting methods will suffer.

    Don't be afraid to speak up. Definitely ask for the information you need to use later to customize shopper interactions in your emails. Then make sure the value will be clear later on. Alternatively, you might benefit from using fun and interactivity to collect data. With traditional methods becoming increasingly unreliable, email polls and surveys help you bridge this information gap, keeping your targeted messages on track.

    Use Interactions To Measure Your Success Instead Of Opens

    Apple Mail Privacy Protection will greatly hinder your ability to accurately measure open-related metrics such as time of the request, open duration, location, or time zone of your users. So instead of focusing on open rates, you should get a better sense of success in email marketing if you focus on clicks, conversions, and revenue generated.

    Despite this seemingly simple step, the reality is that it represents a large step for many email marketers. Start out slowly. Understanding which email experiences are satisfying customers most can be found by studying your engaged email audiences. By adding in fun, engaging elements from existing campaigns to new campaigns, you can A/B test what effect these tactics have on campaigns. You will be surprised by the return on investment these interactions can provide when you begin looking beyond getting a message opened to make it more relevant and effective.

    Bottom Line

    The email marketing industry is still thriving, but it has changed significantly over the past decade. There are many issues to consider when dealing with the new changes to Apple Mail Privacy, which can be overwhelming at times.

    With OutReachBin, email marketing is less intimidating than ever before.

    OutReachBin helps you improve your sender reputation by providing easy-to-use features such as email warm-ups and cold email campaigns.

    So what are you waiting for? Set up your email campaigns with OutReachBin right away!

    Article written by Maisha Abedin
    Send emails that land in your prospect's inbox and get replies. Automate your emails, convert more prospects and grow your business
    Copyright 2021.
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