The marketing world all seemed to utter a collective GASP! when they got word of the upcoming Apple iOS 15 update.
“Data will be skewed!”
“Our reporting will be inaccurate. What can we do to show our customers whether their email campaigns are effective or not?”
“How can we accurately use segmentation and sequencing?”
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More and more questions like this are popping up, and panic has spread across the digital marketing industry as strategists and analysts scramble to think of a workaround for this sweeping, inevitable change.
So, what IS the actual change? And is it truly a cause for panic? Let’s break down what, how, when and why. Then, as always, we marketers will do what we do best: adapt and improvise.
With the new rollout of Apple iOS 15, email marketing will be affected. But the update isn’t Apple’s way of attacking email marketers; it’s just Apple doing one more thing to enhance the user experience and make their customers happy. The operating system update is not truly the primary concern to the marketing industry; rather, it’s with a feature known as the Apple Mail Privacy Protection update.
What is the Apple Mail Privacy Protection Update?
The mail privacy update will pop up and offer you the choice to opt-in to privacy protection (“Protect Mail Activity”) or opt-out (“Don’t protect Mail Activity”). The update will allow users to choose among three features that will affect email marketing: automatically open all emails, hide your IP address, and hide your email address.
“Apple Mail Privacy Protection works by hiding your IP address and loading remote content privately in the background, even when you don’t open the message. This makes it harder for senders to follow your Mail activity.” - Apple device pop-up opt-in message
A second feature to the update will allow users to hide their email address. If you opt-in to hide your email, Apple will generate a fictitious email address on the iCould domain that can be used in place of their real one. Such instances would include filling out forms or signing up on a website that requires an email address for submission. Apple wants to improve the user experience, and they understand that inboxes clogged with advertisements or irrelevant topics only frustrate users.
According to Litmus, emails will first get routed through a proxy server to pre-load message content before serving it to readers. A reader doesn’t have to have ever actually opened those emails, yet they will appear to have been opened by software that tracks analytics. This is what is referred to as a “phantom open.”
How will the Apple Mail Privacy Protection Update affect marketing analytics?
Before we dive into which analytics will be affected, let’s first point out that some of the email metrics we currently analyze are more effective than others. And of particular interest to us in this case is email open rates.
Good marketers already know that open rate data is inaccurate. Many Email Service Providers (ESPs) are already pre-fetching images in order to enhance the user experience. Because of this, open rate has never been a very reliable metric to track. It may very well be that we just like looking at the big shiny object that is better known as open rate. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we already know that conversions are much more important.
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When will the Apple iOS 15 Update be released?
The Apple iOS 15 update was released September 15, 2021. However, not all devices will update immediately. That will be at the discretion of the user and how soon they apply the update to their device.
How soon and to what extent will my customers be affected by the update?
While some users will update their Apple devices immediately, it is expected that users will update slowly and incrementally over the next 6-12 months. The first to be affected will likely be iPhones since they experience the most daily use. Second on the list should be iPads, followed by MacOS desktop computers.
What are some solutions and workarounds to the iOS 15 update impact?
First, let’s recall that many Email Service Providers (ESPs) are already pre-fetching images, so this is not an entirely new phenomenon. Pre-loaded images result in faster email loading times. It’s also a great way to organize all of the emails from a single recipient in a list fashion.
[screenshot of emails in list fashion]
The bottom line is, marketers will have to use more accurate metrics to determine how efficient an email marketing campaign is.
Focus on building quality content that really speaks to your audience, and use click rate and click through rate as the indicators of a healthy email marketing campaign.
Metrics like click rate and click through rate paint a much more accurate picture in communicating how effective your content really is. If it’s worthwhile to the reader, they will engage. Consider focusing your efforts on the nurturing aspect of your email campaigns. For tips on how best to do this, check out this article from HubSpot.
Prioritize metrics such as clicks and click rates to determine the health
of an email campaign.
Not all emails share an objective of converting. For some companies, such as nonprofits, the goal of an email may simply be to inform and educate. For emails that don’t focus on a call to action (CTA), monitoring negative metrics, such as unsubscribe rate, can help determine email effectiveness.
This may just be the wake-up call we all need to revisit the basics and build a strong foundation of quality content as part of our client’s long-term marketing strategy.
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How should I change my marketing strategy after the Apple iOS 15 Update is released?
The marketing industry is forever changing. Software companies, search engines, and tech leaders are always evolving to make things easier, more effective, and more user friendly. With Apple iOS 15, email marketing will take another huge leap forward.
While the initial change can seem daunting, it forces marketers to put on our thinking caps and collaborate on ways to make our services even better.
Focusing on higher quality and more accurate metrics, building a marketing strategy based on quality content, and really honing in on your company personas will help your email marketing campaigns be more successful.
And in the end, isn’t that what we should all be aiming for?
Looking for help with your company’s email marketing campaigns? Nurturing your leads through a foundation of content designed with the customer in mind is paramount in a successful long-term marketing strategy.
Whether you simply need a roadmap to follow or you’d like a partner to help you through the process, digitalJ2 would love to chat with you and find a solution that works for you. Click here for a free consultation.
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