Email Marketing in the Age of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

Over the past few weeks, we have had many conversations with marketers wondering what to do when the new iOS 15 updates come into effect. This fall, Apple will be releasing a new iOS update that results in better privacy for its users at the expense of certain engagement tracking. Here is the gist:

Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from learning whether an email has been opened, and hides IP addresses so senders can’t learn a user’s location or use it to build a profile on them.

Apple’s June 7, 2021 Press Release

While these changes seem to derail tracking efforts, these updates are good news for consumers. They will also encourage marketers to engage more directly with their customer base without relying on background tracking. Apple tends to be a trendsetter, so marketers should expect other providers to follow suit and implement new consumer-centric privacy protections. These updates provide marketers the opportunity to adopt new strategies and shift from the lurker in the background to the friend who takes time to get to know their customers & their needs.

Your marketing team can prepare to take on this new world too. Here is how you can implement and update your strategies in (and outside) of Customer.io.

Define Success Differently

Begin A/B testing now

When the update launches this fall, anyone who opens mail in the iOS Mail app will automatically be recorded as an open, meaning potentially inflated open rates. So before this launches, start (or continue) A/B testing subject lines for your key campaigns to know with confidence what works with your customer base. A/B testing will still be valuable moving forward, but success will be determined solely by clicks and conversions later this year.

Set conversion goals

Over time, open metrics will become a less reliable metric of engagement from your audiences. Therefore focus needs to shift heavily to conversion and click rates, tracking what your profiles are doing inside your emails (clicking) and when they take that golden action – buying. By adding a conversion goal to every campaign, you will know if your email drives your desired outcome. 

Rethink where you use open metrics currently

Since open metrics will be a less reliable measure of engagement moving forward, now is the time to rethink any segments or campaigns that rely on opens. Engagement segments should include internal engagement data, like login dates, recent page views, or important product actions. Workflows dependent on opens for follow-up actions and conversion goals based on opens should use click-rate instead.

New Best Practices

Use a confirmed opt-in

A confirmed opt-in (or double opt-in) has been best practice for deliverability for years. It may result in fewer email addresses making it to Customer.io, however, the email addresses that become profiles are interested customers that are ready to engage with your content. They want what you have, meaning the effect on deliverability & actual sales will be positive in the end. As an added bonus, a confirmed opt-in can protect your domain from spam attacks saving you potential deliverability woes in the future.

Scrub your lists now

If you have been putting off cleaning up your database, now is the time to do it. Create a sunset policy based on customers who have been sent an email but not opened an email in the last few months. You can choose to retarget these users or remove them from the platform.

Double down on personalization

The Hide My Email feature is an upgraded version of an existing capability that lets Apple users create a randomized email address when they register with an app or website. While this prevents tracking one user across multiple platforms, this still allows for one-to-one communication to your customer and lets you collect valuable information. The catch – you may need to offer something in return. To entice people to share their personal information, create surveys on their purchasing intent and preferences, supplementing with discounts or sweepstakes where necessary. Our forms snippet and API endpoint make this all doable within Customer.io.

Text messages (SMS) for the win

If SMS is not currently a part of your messaging strategy, the time has come. Text messaging for marketing grew 40% in the last year. As privacy protections strengthen in email, SMS is a powerful tool in your marketing strategy. For example, you can automate a follow-up text message when a customer has not clicked on an email. Or send emails and text messages at the same time to communicate important information to your customer. You can easily add multiple message types to one campaign using our visual workflow builder.

While the industry is shifting away from tracking metrics that the consumer might not be aware of, there are still plenty of ways marketers can engage with their audiences on a human level and ensure a valuable relationship moving forward.

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