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The end of open rates? Apple’s New Mail Privacy Protection and how it impacts Marketers

Apple recently announced a new Mail Privacy Protection for their mail app for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8. This should start between September and November this year.

For marketers, one point is crucial: For these mail apps, invisible pixels for collecting information are disabled by default. It is, therefore, possible for users to prevent the tracking of their email opens and also to mask their IP address. This means that the marketer can no longer use the IP address as a unique identifier to track the user across different websites.

What do I have to consider as a marketer

In general, it can be said that the tracking of the recipient's email opens becomes less reliable. When an Apple email client receives an email, the content is automatically loaded, in other words, it is tracked as open. This affects all emails opened via the Apple Mail app on any device - regardless of which email service is used, such as Gmail. However, other email apps used on Apple devices, should not be affected. As a result, open rates by Apple Mail users will be significantly skewed resp. too high.

Pardot, for example, suggests the following as immediate recommendations for action:

  • Review all automation, segmentation, and scoring based on email opens. Instead, use link clicks, external activities such as registrations, or other forms of engagement.
  • Focus on other metrics to assess interest in the email content. For example, using click-through-rate or integrating a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" in the email. In other words, move away from impressions to explicit reactions.
  • Watch for changes in engagement metrics when the new Apple features are introduced. Based on the changes, it can be inferred how valid the new open rates are.
  • Keep up to date with Apple's Mail Privacy Protection so that you can respond to changes.

Other areas where open rates are used are, for example, optimisation of the sending time based on artificial intelligence or real-time personalisation.

Many Marketing Automation tools report which email apps are used by the recipients. With a look at this report, you can estimate how big the bias in open rates is.

Conclusion

Currently, there is a massive shift towards more user privacy. Marketers need to respond to these changes and find ways to ensure a personalised customer journey and draw the right conclusions from the metrics that are measured. In terms of email marketing, the trend is moving away from open rates and more towards engagement metrics such as click-through rates.


 References

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