On 20 September 2021, as New Zealand watched Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield outline the new COVID-19 cases and people around the country readied themselves to move to alert level 3, iOS15 quietly started rolling out.
Apple's latest iOS update comes with new mail privacy protection settings, and it's got marketers hot under the collar. Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) comes on the heels of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), essentially putting the consumer in charge of protecting their privacy in their online world.
What is Mail Privacy Protection (MPP)?
MPP is a critical feature of the latest iOS15 update. It offers consumers the ability to opt-in to protect their privacy when they update to the new operating system. This impacts all Apple Mail app users on iOS15, iPadOS15, macOS Monterey and watchOS8. The release operates on all iPhone 6S models and above.
According to Apple, "Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can't be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location".
This seems like a great move if you're a customer, but perhaps less so if you're a marketer. Customers' privacy is protected by Apple preloading emails to proxy servers, caching images and stopping the sender from leveraging tracking pixels which dictate customer opens, location and IP addresses.
What does this mean for marketers?
It's predicted that most of us will opt-in to protect our privacy. Let's face it, after all the media coverage about the lack of online privacy over the years, we want to safeguard ourselves. What this means for marketers though, is that open rates are likely to sky-rocket, as Apple will open emails on proxy servers, whether the actual customer ever physically clicks to open them or not.
Marketers love high open rates, but if this metric isn't reliable, we're going to need to rethink what and how we measure email performance. This will also have a huge impact on how we measure subject line effectiveness and how we build out email retargeting journeys - for example, to all recipients who have opened an email.
What can you do?
All is not lost - open rates aren't the only metric to be had, and there are some steps you can take:
Check your current open rates across your communications and continue to monitor these. Take a look at what they are now and compare to what they were back in August. This will provide a good guide for you ongoing. Qrious can provide a deep dive into your UbiQuity communications in the form of a trends & analysis report.
Understand your customer base and the email applications they use. Across our UbiQuity clients we're seeing approximately 40% of their customers using Apple Mail as their email application. This provides us with a good indicator of how much we expect to see open rates increase. You can continue to get a good indicator of open rates (if this is a critical measure for you) by assessing non-Apple Mail customers' open rates.
There are plenty of other metrics you can track with your email communications. Look at click through rates from your emails and ensure you have active tracking links. Focus on maximising click throughs, action taken from emails and other tracking measures. Also ensure you monitor unsubscribes and hard bounces and clean your database to avoid spamming disengaged customers after a reasonable period has lapsed.
Look at other channels. SMS and/or push notifications may suit some customers better - something that you can learn through your preference centre. Talk to us about other channel options that may be suitable for you to reach your customers and about getting the best out of your preference centre.
Lastly, think about any automated engagements/journeys you have in place that rely on email as a trigger. These will need to be reconfigured as your customer may look like they opened the email, but if they have opted in to MPP then it's possible they didn't open, but Apple did.
If you're already a UbiQuity customer and want more information, contact your Qrious Marketing Automation Specialist for more details about your account and your customer engagement needs. If you're not already using UbiQuity as your engagement platform and want to know more about how it works and what it offers to New Zealand organisations, view the features here or get in touch here.