Email Marketing

What does the Apple iOS 15 update mean for email marketing?

The latest iOS 15 preview has everyone talking. Apple used the preview to announce new updates to user privacy protections across all Apple devices. This move solidifies Apple’s commitment to a privacy-centered future but, at first glance, it could seem like it may leave email senders standing on shaky ground.

At Data Axle, we’ve been reading a variety of trusted sources and industry discussions throughout this past week, and we can assure you – valuing consumer privacy is a move in the right direction. There are still ways for advertisers to ethically collect data that will allow them to meaningfully interact with their audiences over email.

What Changes Should Email Marketers Implement

This means that the most important takeaway for email marketers is that we need to start measuring our efforts in new ways. The open-rate will be less important, and marketers should start measuring in a 360-degree view and it’s important to implement this before the changes go into effect.

Background on the Apple iOS 15 Release

With the upcoming Fall 2021 release, Apple will provide the option of “Mail Privacy Protection” for those using the native Mail app on iOS 15.1 This feature is great news for Apple users who value privacy. However, for email marketers, it presents challenges to the traditional ways of collecting data. Namely, advertisers who currently rely on access to data gathered via tracking pixels.

The iOS 15 updates will change the existing email marketing landscape, as they will allow native Mail app users to:

  • Prevent email senders from knowing when or where users open an email.
  • Block email senders from viewing results from hidden pixels used to collect valuable information.
  • Mask their IP address so they can’t be tracked and linked to other online activity.
  • Create alternate iCloud+ emails that can auto-forward to their real accounts.

Though it is unclear how much Apple’s changes will impact the industry this Fall (keep in mind that as of Jan 2021, Apple accounts for 52% of mobile devices in the USA2), we know that change is coming. Recent laws, such as Europe’s GDPR and California’s CCPA, are a preview of a world where privacy control is increasingly in the palm of the user.

6 Changes to Ensure Your Data is Ready

We urge you not to view that as a negative, but to proactively engage with your data to keep it clean, accurate and up-to-date. Here’s how:

  1. Gather more first-party data. The more info a marketer collects at the point of sign-up for each subscriber, the more data to cater to that individual’s preferences. That becomes more important as we rely less on the open metric and can no longer collect location data.
  2. Focus on consent and have clear and concise opt-in practices in place. Two practices include requiring only minimal information to sign up for a general mailing list to make the process as quick and easy as possible and highlighting the benefits of receiving email from your organization. Doing this will ensure you’re only communicating with those subscribers who really want to hear from you.
  3. Give users control by implementing preference centers. Make it easy for recipients to scale back on the number of touches and the type of content they receive – or to unsubscribe altogether.
  4. Segment your mail-stream. This is vital to understanding your audience. Separate your list into subgroups to learn how each target behaves. Assigning a risk level to each audience is a helpful way to mitigate deliverability issues. Learn more about segmentation here.
  5. Find new ways to adapt and engage with your audience. Clicks and conversions will be more important than ever, so give your list a reason to click. Personalizing content and messaging has been proven to increase audience engagement and will be more important than ever.
  6. Improve deliverability. We know roughly 20% of emails don’t reach client inboxes. Deliverability tools, such as Data Axle’s Inboxable, will not be negatively impacted with this change and will in fact help provide a much needed ‘North Star’ to email senders, as they don’t rely solely on opens and pixel-tracking. We can help marketers understand how iCloud users behave and give insight to how they place within the inbox.

Apple’s announcement has created uncertainty regarding traditional email KPIs, but there is hope for the industry. Email has always proven its ability to adapt and evolve. We know the open-rate won’t go away entirely (at least not yet), given it’s the only metric available today that allows senders to measure the initial level of interest a subscriber has with content before the click. Even so, marketers should not be relying solely on the metric of open-rates. A 360-degree view of email performance, including both deliverability and engagement, is now integral to truly understanding subscribers and program success.

This is an exciting time to be in Email Marketing.

We’ll be watching this closely and will keep you informed on the emerging trends and developments. In the meantime, learn more about deliverability strategies in our new Email Deliverability Guide:

Email deliverability guide
Learn 11 strategies you can use to overcome common deliverability challenges, improve your sender reputation, and ensure you hit the inbox.

If you have questions, please reach out! We’re here to help.

Thom Porter
Account Manager

As the newest member of Data Axle's Inboxable team, Thom is responsible for ensuring successful outbound email deployment and optimal email inbox placement for our clients. He continuously works to provide exceptional customer service, email campaign strategy, and efficient issue resolution in email deliverability. Thom's 10+ years of experience with data and digital marketing has encompassed multiple industries, from DTC to retail and CPG & Pharma.