Apple announced that in September, they will roll out iOS 15 and MacOS Monterey. You may have even heard some things about iOS 15 — like Mail Privacy Protection and what it may mean for your ability to get accurate data from your email campaigns.

But what will it actually mean for your email marketing efforts? How will it impact your business? And what can you do to adapt and succeed as these changes take shape?

Keep reading to:

  • Better understand what to expect
  • Review some next-step strategies you can start now (and which are better at measuring engagement than email opens!)
  • Sign up for our upcoming webinar to dive even deeper into possible impact and strategies

What is Mail Privacy Protection?

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced new iOS 15 privacy features. As a part of this software update, Apple is releasing Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), which will give users greater control over their email privacy.

Mail Privacy Protection will allow users to opt in to features that mask IP addresses and block third parties from tracking email opens or other IP data. The feature will be available for users of Apple’s Mail app for iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, and WatchOS.

Developers on the iOS beta releases have shared images of the prompt to turn Mail Privacy Protection on:

apple notification
Image source: Twitter

In the past, data from an email was loaded when the recipient opened the email and downloaded the email’s images, which happened automatically in most cases. This data included a hidden tracking pixel, which allowed your email provider to detect that the email was opened, what device was used, and sometimes where the subscriber was located when they opened the email.

With Mail Privacy Protection, Apple Mail will preload images and content of emails you send — including the tracking pixel — regardless of if the recipient actually opened the email or not.

Why is Mail Privacy Protection important?

Early tests suggest that with the release of iOS 15, Apple Mail will report 100% open rates for their users.

Because Apple controls up to 58% of the email client market share, after iOS 15 the open rate will be lost for more than half of email recipients. This means that businesses, marketers, and sales teams will no longer be able to confidently rely on email opens as a KPI.

But there’s no reason to panic. While this change will have an immediate impact on how many businesses have measured their email marketing, this isn’t a bad change — just a new way of thinking, and one that will most likely prove more beneficial in the long run.

What will some of those benefits be?

  • Having the right data to make better business decisions
  • A true understanding of what your customers care about
  • Building stronger, ongoing relationships with customers

There are many other (and better) ways to understand what your leads and customers want, measure engagement, and continue to create 1:1 experiences.

What strategies should I be thinking about to make the most of the updates?

It’s time to start looking outside of open rates to measure success — and that’s a good thing. The iOS 15 release is an opportunity to change and grow — and understand your customers better.

It’s good to get started now, before the changes take effect so you can:

  • Create baselines to measure against after the changes
  • Work through new processes and start testing them
  • Make the pivot away from email opens easier

These steps will lead to better business outcomes, and keep you from relying on vanity metrics that tell a very small part of the story.

1. Follow Apple’s updates from a trusted source

Apple is notorious for teasing large changes coming and then releasing betas — it helps to find a trusted source (we are here to help!) to navigate through these changes, so as new updates are released and new strategies are defined, you’re confidently up to speed.

We’ve also been tracking Apple’s recent iOS 15 announcement regarding Mail Privacy Protection closely since it was released. Our internal teams are following developments as they happen and we will continue communicating with our customers. ActiveCampaign is prepared to address any possible changes.

ActiveCampaign’s Sean Wolter, Senior Director of Engineering, has this to say about how ActiveCampaign is preparing for the release of Apple iOS 15:

“Mail Privacy Protection is the latest feature in an industry-wide shift towards personal privacy on the internet. ActiveCampaign has been ahead on third-party cookies, do-not track, App Tracking Transparency, and now Mail Privacy Protection. ActiveCampaign will filter the noise and respect your customer’s privacy while still providing actionable insights into your customer experience.”

2. Do a list clean-up based on opens now (and see better deliverability)

Right now would be a good time to clean contacts from your list into segments based on who isn’t opening your emails vs who is, while you still have time to use open rates as an engagement metric.

Sending emails to a clean list makes sure that you send emails only to individuals who want to hear from you — and not only will this boost your engagement rates, but it will help improve your overall deliverability, sender reputation, and inbox placement. Bonus!

3. Create new baselines — start focusing on email link clicks

When using email opens as the primary metric to measure a campaign’s success or to segment active contacts, marketers can miss the mark on how successful their email actually was.

Email opens may show that customers were interested enough in the subject line to click, but is the content relevant to them? Are they taking the intended action on your emails? Are your emails leading to business growth?

email opens vs clicks
While opens are a traditional metric, they don’t give you as accurate of a view of your customers as clicks do.

That’s why the link click-through rate in your emails are a far more accurate indicator of the right type of engagement to measure: like how someone engages, what they find valuable, and if your emails are hitting the mark to drive towards the next intended step.

When you lessen your dependence on open rates, you’ll run less of a chance of basing important business decisions on vanity metrics like email opens.

4. Use split testing around subject lines and content

Your email engagement rate is affected by lots of factors. Deliverability, time of day, and preheader text are all important — but no factor is quite as important as your subject line (to capture attention) and the content of your email (to be relevant and drive real action).

But how do you know what’s working?

split testing activecampaign
Split testing by click-through rate gives you a clear view into which content your contacts prefer.

Start split testing. You can:

  • Split test different subject lines, images, and CTAs — ActiveCampaign lets you compare the link clicks of 5 emails at once.
  • Use dynamic content to ​​swap images, copy, and CTAs based on saved customer data such as past purchases and engagement history.
  • Try Predictive Content to show the right message to every customer, based on what they’re most likely to click through on.

But remember — you’ll want to judge the winner based on click through rate instead of open rate. Need help getting started? Check out our free Subject Line Generator tool for ideas.

5. Track to your end-goals, not just the first steps.

The goal of sending an email is not to have the email opened. You want your contacts to take a next action — and those actions can help you paint a more complete picture of your marketing success.

ActiveCampaign forms
Forms are a great way to get first-party data, information provided directly by your audience or customers.

What are some end-goals you can track?

  • Click-throughs and clickmaps. ActiveCampaign gives you the option to review which links were the most clicked in your campaigns and automations — and you can even use our clickmap overlay to compare every link in an email.
  • Traffic to your site. Chances are you’re using email marketing to get people on your site. Healthy site traffic leading from click-throughs is an indicator your email is performing well.
  • Form submissions. People who actively give you information about themselves are highly engaged, and want to receive content from you.
    Recent purchases. The more recent, the better. After all, 80% of your future purchases come from just 20% of your current customers.

Statistics
6. Use automation to measure cross-channel engagement

At ActiveCampaign, we’ve never believed engagement should be limited (or measured) by email opens — or even just click-throughs. Understanding your customers goes beyond email. Customers also expect a connected and cohesive experience across SMS, landing pages, social, and more.

omnichannel

That’s why we’ve developed engagement scoring automation recipes. Check out our recent blog for 10 engagement automation recipes you can start using now, so you can feel confident that you can measure and act on cross-channel data that measures true customer engagement.

Want to learn more? Watch our webinar.

Building trusting relationships with your customers, providing relevant content, and showing them exactly how their information is being used is more important than ever. Customers want privacy, but they also want a personalized experience. Striking that balance (and doing it in an authentic way) is key to business’s success.

That’s why we held a webinar on September 2nd, where we dug deeper into everything iOS 15 — the nuts and bolts of the changes, as well as strategies that will help your business find success with these changes.

Join ActiveCampaign’s Sean Wolter — Senior Director of Engineering, and Veronica Hudson — Director of Product Management.

Watch the recorded webinar here.