Change is one thing B2B marketers can count on. Between software efforts and a renewed push for improving privacy, it makes for a fluid situation.
A recent Apple Mail update is just the latest example. In this blog post, we’ll explain how Apple Mail privacy updates impact email open rates and change how marketers measure campaigns.
Apple Mail Privacy Updates
In iOS 15, Apple launched Mail Privacy Protection features, which lets users hide their IP address and load content privately and remotely. This impacts how open rates are counted. Because Apple is privately loading all content, there are concerns that every message that shows up in Apple Mail will register as open — even if the user never opens it.
What Is Apple Mail Privacy Protection?
Apple Mail privacy protection is a setting in Apple Mail to help prevent email senders and marketers from learning information about email activity. Users who turn it on will prevent email senders from seeing whether they opened the email. It also masks IP addresses, so marketers can’t link your Apple Mail behavior with other activities.
When Did iOS Email Privacy Protection Go Into Effect?
iOS email privacy protection went into effect on Sept. 20, 2021, when the latest release of iOS 15 became available to users.
After updating, users opening the Apple Mail app see a message asking them to either choose to protect mail activity or don’t protect mail activity. Users can also add Apple Mail privacy protection in the mail settings.
How Does Apple Mail Privacy Protection Affect B2B Email Marketing?
In the past, email data was loaded onto the device when recipients opened emails. Pixel data was loaded along with an email so marketers could know whether an email had been opened. They could also discern devices and location information.
Since Apple now loads the images remotely in the background to mask user activity, marketers and email providers can no longer be sure email pixels show accurate email open rates.
That’s a big deal. Apple Mail on iPhones, tablets, etc. accounts for nearly 50% of email opens. Faced with the option to Protect or Not Protect, analysts expect most people to protect.
Impact on Metrics
For marketers measuring open rates, the Apple Mail changes mean marketers may question the open rates they see. It can create havoc with testing, such as measuring the impact of subject lines in A/B tests. It may also negate user segmentation based on behavior, since marketers may not be able to tell the difference between an email opened by the Apple client or the actual user.
Click-to-open rates (CTOR) are another metric that may become less important. Since it measures the number of clicks as a percentage of open rates, marketers can no longer judge the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns based on CTOR.
Rather than rely on open rates as an indicator of success, marketers would be smart to use other more meaningful metrics to evaluate success.
Email Marketing Best Practices: Actions to Take
What can marketers do to evolve? Here are some of the best practices to put in place.
- Evaluate measurements. Focus more on clickthroughs, engagement, and conversions.
- Use time-based triggers rather than open-based triggers for automation.
- Focus efforts to create more relevant emails to encourage actual opens, engagement, and action.
- Continue to iterate and A/B test subject lines, images, email content, and CTAs to understand your customers’ preferences.
- Switch to email segmentation practices based on click segmentation of manual segments rather than email opens.
Review Sequence Triggers
You may also want to reconsider your email sequencing triggers. Most programs have used opens as a trigger to initiate the next message in the sequence. If you can’t trust opens as a trigger, you may want to adjust your workflow to trigger based on clicks or time delays instead of opens.
What Hasn’t Changed
The power of email marketing is one thing that hasn’t changed. When you get the right messaging, email continues to be one marketing’s most impactful tactics. It’s estimated that for every $1 spent on email, it generates $42 in sales — a 42X return. And more than 75% of marketers say the effectiveness of email is steady or improving.
More Changes Ahead
As companies and countries focus more on privacy, expect more changes to come. For B2B marketers, this means staying on top of new developments, being flexible and agile, and being prepared for what comes next.
Want to learn more about best practices for email marketing or need some help managing your B2B campaigns? Contact the pros at ER Marketing, a leading B2B agency focusing on delivering results.