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    apples new mail privacy protection good or bad for marketers

    Apple’s New Mail Privacy Protection: Good or Bad for B2B Marketers?

    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.

    Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection will impact email open rates and change how marketers measure their campaigns.

    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.

    Following the introduction of iOS email privacy protection in September 2021, Apple has continued to enhance its privacy and security features across its ecosystem. With the launch of iOS 17, Apple introduced several new and improved security features aimed not only at protecting iPhone owners from cyberattacks and spyware but also at enhancing privacy for the wider population. These include new protections in Lockdown Mode, which now extends to Apple Watch, the automatic removal of geolocation data from photos shared in Lockdown Mode, and the blocking of connections to non-secure Wi-Fi networks and 2G cellular networks​​.

    Apple also announced major updates to Safari Private Browsing, Communication Safety, and Lockdown Mode, alongside app privacy improvements. New features such as Check In, NameDrop, and Live Voicemail were introduced, focusing on privacy and security. For instance, Check In allows users to share their location with friends or family members when they reach their destination, offering peace of mind with end-to-end encrypted location data​​.

    Apple’s efforts to stop email tracking through Mail Privacy Protection in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey have had a significant impact. By preventing senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user, Apple has made it more challenging for advertisers to track email engagement, a move that could prompt other companies like Google to adopt similar privacy measures​

    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.

    Rather than rely on open rates as an indicator of success, marketers would be smart to use other more meaningful metrics to evaluate success.

    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.

    RELATED: AI-Driven Email Marketing: Boosting Open Rates and Conversions

    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.

    1. Evaluate measurements. Focus more on clickthroughs, engagement, and conversions.
    2. Use time-based triggers rather than open-based triggers for automation.
    3. Focus efforts to create more relevant emails to encourage actual opens, engagement, and action.
    4. Continue to iterate and A/B test subject lines, images, email content, and CTAs to understand your customers’ preferences.
    5. 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.

    RELATED: Maximizing Your Email Marketing Success

    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.


    What is Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

    Apple Mail privacy protection is a feature that hides user email activity from senders and marketers, including email open status and IP addresses.

    When did iOS Email Privacy Protection go into effect?

    iOS Email Privacy Protection took effect on September 20, 2021, with the release of iOS 15.

    How does Apple Mail Privacy Protection affect B2B Email Marketing?

    It impacts how email open rates are measured, making traditional metrics unreliable and necessitating a shift to other metrics like clickthroughs and conversions.

    What metrics are affected by Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

    Open rates and click-to-open rates (CTOR) are particularly affected, prompting marketers to focus on engagement and conversions instead.

    What actions should marketers take in response to these changes?

    Marketers should reevaluate their measurement strategies, focus on creating relevant content, and consider alternative triggers for email automation.

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    About The Author

    Elton Mayfield

    Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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