Navigating Apple Privacy Updates

The rollout of iOS 15 has introduced a new feature into the Apple ecosystem: Mail Privacy Protection. But what does it mean for marketeers?

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WHAT IS MAIL PRIVACY PROTECTION?

When enabled via the Mail App on an Apple device, Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from being able to measure the open rates of their email campaigns by blocking the tracking pixels senders use to collect data about the recipient. It also hides the recipient's IP address from the sender, meaning the recipient’s email addresses cannot be linked to any of their online activity.

WHAT’S THE LIKELY IMPACT?

Around 95% of Apple users took the opportunity to remove App Tracking when it was introduced in iOS 14.5, and it’s very likely that Mail Privacy Protection will be just as popular.

What would this mean?

  • You will not be able to track the open rates of those opted into MPP
  • Lack of open tracking for these customers could make it difficult to run specific targeting tactics with accuracy (e.g. reactivation campaigns)
  • You will need to develop a different approach to subject line optimisation and A/B testing, or exclude iOS 15 users
  • You will be unable to target opted in iOS 15 customers who have visited online with relevant email content
  • It will be more difficult to track send time optimisation for these customers
  • You will be unable to use geo-targeting for these customers

DOES IT MATTER IF I CAN’T TRACK OPEN RATES?

Changes in tracking happen all the time and marketers always find ways to pivot and work around them.

Open rates are important for measuring your total ‘real’ reach for a communication (i.e. how many people actually saw it), and they help you gauge the interest and engagement of your audience. Now that we’re unable to do so across the entire base, it impacts our ability to measure the quality of our communications.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MEASURE THE QUALITY OF YOUR COMMS?

  • You can use a proxy measure for tracking open rates (see below)
  • You can use click through and onward engagement rates across other channels to assess real impact
  • You can start to focus on action and conversion (if this is a key metric) to measure the health of your programme
  • You can ask your subscribers to update their preferences regularly, and incentivise them to do so
  • You can directly ask them about the quality of your programme through NPS and CSAT surveys and customer research (incentivise these for maximum impact)

We’ll soon start to learn to lean less on absolute open rates and to use other customer action to judge success. Our recommendation is to start to assess your measurement frameworks now and put in place the metrics that will help you judge success beyond open rates.

CAN I USE A PROXY MEASURE TO UNDERSTAND OPENS?

You can still make a good assessment of your open rate success by using the following:

  • Split out iOS 15 and non-iOS 15 users in your reporting now
  • Find the iOS 15 users who are regular openers and ring fence them in the data (you can then make a comparison between their behaviour before and after the change to help understand how many have chosen MPP)
  • Make sure you don’t make any major changes to your programme between now and the time of going live with MPP so you can accurately judge impact on engagement
  • Track your open rates across all devices across the entire base before and after the change
  • Keep up with industry reports to understand how many people across the industry are selecting MPP to compare to your own estimates
  • Track other metrics such as total clicks and conversions to see whether your comms are consistent before and after the change
  • Using the above steps, make an informed calculation as to how many of your customer base has chosen MPP, and factor that into your reporting

While this won’t completely solve the problem of not being able to associate opens with individuals, it will help you understand if your open rates have remained healthy and will allow you to do that over time.

It’s also important to keep track of new customers post-change. How many are iOS 15 users? How do their opens compare to users of other devices? What are their engagement rates like outside of email? You can use this to make an educated guess as to the continued proportion who have opted for MPP.

Team ITG can support you every step of the way, or we can help your own internal data & insight teams to create a strategy for creating a proxy.

HOW WILL I BE ABLE TO TELL WHO MY ENGAGED CUSTOMERS ARE?

Interestingly, you don’t really need to know who your engaged customers are – for two reasons:

  1. Deliverability depends on your communications being engaged with by a significant proportion of your customers
  2. Most programmes exclude customers who haven’t engaged for a period of time and use reactivation campaigns to win them back

While you’ll still be able to use opens for a proportion of your base, you will have to explore new ways to assess the rest e.g.:

  • Use your ring-fenced customers outlined above as a hold out from your engagement strategy and use other proxy metrics for this group
  • Work on your conversion game. If customer action is a key metric for you then your communications will need to focus more on action than on awareness and create the content and journey that drives that
  • Use a universal control to understand how much your communications are driving incremental action across the whole base
  • Start to use click through rates and conversion to measure the health of your base in lieu of opens

WHAT NOW?

Start thinking about your post iOS 15 strategy – if you have a strategy you will be well prepared to understand the changes when iOS 15 launches.

Here at Team ITG, we are always working to deliver the best in e-CRM technology and practice.

For our CanopyDeploy users, our masterminds have been working on solutions so customers can face the transition to iOS 15 with confidence. Our commitment to product innovation means that you will still be able to collect the most relevant data from your campaigns.

The updates we’re making to CanopyDeploy’s analytics and reporting will assist you in continuing to easily measure the success of your campaigns through customer engagement in real-time.

With all that in mind we’ve put together a few key first steps:

  • 57% of the market are using Apple Mail in some way. Using Analytics, evaluate what percentage of your own database will be affected.
  • Start working on your domain health. Deliverability has the ability to make or break your campaigns. It also isn’t something that can be altered overnight. Start working on a clean list of active users who are interacting with your brand.
  • Use segmentation and create truly exceptional content. Test this content using metrics such as Click Through Rates and Conversions, so when the time comes, you’ll be able to track the success of your campaigns.

Future-thinking is the answer; start developing your content to be truly customer focused and (if you haven’t already) start to make better use of the metrics that will continue to be available to you.

Team ITG will make this transition as seamless as possible for you. Contact hello@teamitg.com for more information or if you have any questions about how to navigate this Apple Privacy Update.

Team ITG

Team ITG is a global technology-led marketing business. Its game-changing marketing execution platform, CanopyCloud, simplifies multichannel marketing, automates tedious manual processes and frees marketers to focus on creative strategy. With a blend of next generation technology and award-winning services, Team ITG creates and delivers content for global campaigns in over 160 countries and 52 languages.