Apple’s latest iOS 15 software update – notably the Mail Privacy Protection feature – has put fellow email marketers into confusion.
The new email feature will prevent email senders from using tracking pixels to collect information about the user.
This is done by having the system download and store all images (including that tracking pixel) on a remote server. This data becomes available only when recipients open the email.
“Mail Privacy Protection will stop senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new features help users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location”.– Apple Official Statement
How does Mail Privacy Protection affect email marketers?
While it’s fantastic news for users who value privacy, the feature has brought new challenges to email marketers who heavily rely on collecting data via tracking pixels.
Email marketers have had a long history of utilising these tracking pixels to better understand the performance metrics of their message.
With tracking pixels, they can identify specific actions taken by email recipients (e.g. opening the email, open email times, IP addresses, etc.).
All this information is then used to improve how marketers craft their emails for specific audiences and better deliver them. But, unfortunately, with Mail Privacy Protection, all that data is challenging to obtain.
How Mail Privacy Protection works
Mail Privacy Protection is going to significantly impact email marketing culture. But how does the system do it?
1. Senders are unable to see data collected by hidden pixels
Since Apple Mail will query the email sender’s server for the email content, any email to a user who has enabled the new capabilities appears to be opened.
Therefore, users can’t tell when or where emails are opened, making measuring campaign open rates difficult.
So if you’ve been segmenting your emails based on open rates, you may want to reconsider your email campaign metrics.
2. Say goodbye to real-time customised content
Email marketers have utilised various content in their campaigns for a more personalised approach that appeals to their recipients.
Some of that content, for example, countdown timers, live-package trackers, or other dynamic features, depend on tracking pixels.
With Mail Privacy Protection in the way, marketers will need to develop innovative ways to connect with recipients that don’t rely on real-time features.
3. Audience targeting based on geographic location will likely not be feasible
Mail Privacy Protection allows users to mask their IP addresses so their online activity won’t be tracked.
However, this does not entirely stop the possibility of geographic targeting. For example, email marketers might not depend on IP addresses, but they can base their targeting using other data (e.g. recipient’s mailing address).
So while the new feature does impact geographic targeting in some ways, it doesn’t stop the possibility of using it entirely.
6 tips to overcome Mail Privacy Protection for email marketers
Despite Mail Privacy Protection creating massive changes to the email marketing landscape, it shouldn’t stop you from sending out emails at all.
The good news? You can still send out your emails, and recipients will still receive them. They’ll still open your messages and interact with them.
And even though you can’t thoroughly study their email habits to improve the quality of your emails, there are some other ways you can maintain or improve the quality of your emails without relying too much on tracking pixels.
1. Figure out the ultimate goal of your email campaigns
Sure, getting a high email open rate is an ideal situation. But is it always the end goal?
The email marketing scene is used to the idea that high email open rates is what we’re aiming for. But with Apple’s update in the air, we’ll have to consider another goal to pursue.
This leads us to think of what our emails should accomplish. Besides obtaining high open rates, what else can our emails achieve?
Think outside of the box and develop goals beyond open rates.
Come up with bigger goals besides high email open rates. You may want to consider how to get your recipients to perform your call to action instead, which may include:
- Visit a website
- Download e-book
- Fill out a form
- Make a purchase
You want more than just your audiences opening your email – you want your emails to be engaging as well.
2. Change your performance metrics
Now that you’ve figured out other goals for your emails, it’s time to list out the alternative performance metrics that you can stick to.
Some other benchmarks you may consider include database growth, conversion rates, and click-through rates. These are some other useful metrics that allow you to measure engagement.
Focusing on more performance indicators relevant to the ultimate goal of your emails will help you improve the value of your email program and add to your company’s bottom line.
3. Utilise A/B Tests
A/B Test Subject Lines
A/B testing is a beautiful way to identify the best marketing pitch. You may already be doing that with your emails. If not, now is the time to begin.
If you can’t track when consumers open emails, make them more attractive. To monitor user interaction, you need a higher-performing topic line.
A/B Test Email Bodies
A/B testing your subject lines is essential, but so is optimising the body of your emails. To assess engagement, you must get them to click. To get them to click, you will need to create various email copies or formats that encourage your recipients to click.
This has always been crucial for email marketing conversions, but it becomes much more critical when you also need to measure engagement.
4. Create content that is relevant to your readers
With these new privacy settings, your content marketing approach may become “gated”. You’ll need to create material that requires visitors to subscribe or tempts them to read more.
Think webinars, podcasts, e-books, whitepapers, how-to-manuals, or videos.
Engage your audience in new ways. Give your database a reason to click. Compelling content and message will be more crucial than ever.
Alternatively, you may try to provide value in return for consumer data. For instance, create a free lead magnet that answers your clients’ concerns, like “sign up for our newsletter to earn 10% off your first purchase.”
5. Implement call-to-action (CTA) buttons
CTA buttons are the buttons you use in your email campaigns that direct the recipient to a location outside of the email. When you click on them, they typically lead you to an external link, such as a website or online form.
Utilising CTA buttons helps recipients easily navigate to your links seamlessly. Once your readers see the button in your email, they already have a better sense of what they should do with your email.
But remember, your CTA buttons should be easy to catch. To make your buttons more readable, consider factors like size, style, color, and whitespace.
And with that, CTA buttons boost your click-through rates. They become a powerful tool to catch the attention of your readers, and drive them towards conversion.
6. Always have clear opt-in email marketing practices
Offer users the ability to implement preference centres.
And yes, that means giving your audience the freedom to limit the number of content they’d like to receive from you. Even if it means letting your recipients unsubscribe your content.
Nobody likes an unsubscriber but think of it this way.
By allowing your recipients to do whatever they choose with your content, you have visibility over those genuinely interested in your emails and have a deeper understanding of the target audience that is actually listening to you.
Mail Privacy Protection is not the death of email marketing
Apple’s new privacy settings might have caused a commotion for fellow email marketers, but it’s not the end of email marketing.
Emails will always play a central role in 1:1 communications, and of course, your marketing strategy. Email channels have been around for a long time and have gone through several other drastic changes.
And changes like this shouldn’t have to discourage you. This isn’t the first update, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Changes are continuous. All we can do is adapt.
And after all, it always comes back to providing high-quality value for your readers.
If you’re already providing value in your subject lines or your email copies, then tracking your engagement shouldn’t be a huge issue – with or without a software update.
Need help with your email marketing strategy? Contact us to get in touch with our digital marketing experts.
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