The impact of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection
Apple rocked the email marketing world a few weeks ago by announcing the ‘Mail Privacy Protection’ (MPP) for iOS15. Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user, such as when they open an email. MPP also masks IP addresses so they can’t be linked to other online activity or location.
What does this mean for marketers?
For the up to 60% of the population, that use Apple Mail, the following information won’t be available:
- The blocking of the invisible pixels means that the email opens information is no longer available
- The IP masking means that IP-based geo-location information is no longer available
- Remote content will be privately loaded, which speaks mostly to images (as opposed to HTML or CSS)
- iCloud+ users can create unlimited burner email accounts to subscribe to different platforms and turn these accounts on and off at will.
Does this mean email is, yet again, dead?
The answer is no. Although we’ll have to wait for the first release to actually test the impact of MPP, we can already induce what might be affected by Apple’s MPP.
Here are a few functions that might be affected:
- Email performance tracking: The open rates provided by Apple Mail users will no longer be reliable. Senders will need to look at other metrics, such as click-through rates and conversions, to calculate the success of an email campaign.
- A/B testing for emails: Tests that use open rates to determine the best possible email are no longer correct for the Apple users.
- Email lists cleaning: Senders will have to be careful with re-activation policies and other email health strategies that depend on open rates.
- Segmentation based on open rates is not going to be an option with Apple Mail users. This means senders will probably not be able to use re-activation policies and other email health strategies that use opens to keep their list clean.
- Automated campaigns based on open metrics: Some automated nurture flows, onboarding emails, and re-engagement campaigns track whether a user opens an email to determine what email they’ll get next. These campaigns are likely to be impacted.
- Contextual / Real-time personalization: Some senders use dynamic email content that varies depending on where the user is when they open the email. This type of email uses location tracking, will be affected for Apple Mail users.
- Send time personalization: This feature will be impacted for Apple Mail users as the opens generated will no longer come with an exact time stamp. Apple will return an estimated open time.
- Content will be cached by Apple: Caching will impact dynamic content such as countdown timers and real-time updates, like displaying a loyalty balance.
- Burner accounts: iCloud+ users will be able to create unlimited burner accounts to subscribe to services and turn these accounts on and off at will, meaning that they can subscribe to your newsletter one day, and turn the account off the next.
What’s the impact?
Apple Mail is already used by up to 40 to 60%1 of your fanbase, other companies are expected to follow. Apple’s example fits a trend where privacy is becoming more important. Privacy is fast becoming a unique selling proposition for companies like Apple to attract new users to increase the value of their platform.
This trend is here to stay and we as data-driven marketers will have to adapt to these changes.
Moving forward, what can we do?
- Concentrate your reporting more on Clicks, Conversions, Unsubscribes and Revenues instead of opens.
- Use the Sports Alliance Activity Scale, which is based on SSO logins, Access Control transactions, ticket purchases and clicks to single out active fans in your database.
- Contextual content can still be personalized but it must be based on first party data. That means capturing fan data via data capture campaigns, single sign on and transactions will become more important. The more data you own, the more you can personalise.
- Focus on an Omni-channel approach by including more communication channels that can be personalized and/or segmented through SRM Campaign.
- Adept your marketing automation flow by focusing more on clicks and conversions.
How will Sports Alliance help you?
We’re already acting on the announcement. While open rates will still be available, we’re thinking about ‘adapting’ to change. We’re also thinking about changing the focus in Tableau reports and Campaign Assistant away from open rates, adjusting filter attribute nodes in SRM campaigns, and adding more features to our toolkit to interact with your fans.
We will keep monitoring the situation by gathering information and sharing it within the Sports Alliance Community. If you have any questions or suggestions for us, please contact Bram Molenaar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Based on https://www.litmus.com/blog/email-client-market-share-2021-q1/ and various checks in Communicator’s Dispatch Reports.