Apple has announced the latest changes to iOS 15, which will block open tracking in the email. This will come as a shock to many email marketers. And while it may not be the most popular opinion, but I am actually excited!
“In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps 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 Press Release June 7
Your Email Open Rate reporting will be less accurate. Globally, the Apple Mail app represents around 11% of email users. You should still do an analysis on your customer population, but you can assume that 11% of email opens will be attributed incorrectly. How this will be reflected in your reports will depend on the way Apple implements this restriction technically. It could either mean that simply no opens will be tracked, but it could also mean that all emails sent to the Mail app will be tracked as opens automatically. Either way – giving you an incorrect result.
Automated campaigns that rely on open events will not be as effective on the Mail app. For example, any campaigns where you are sending a follow-up after someone has not opened in a predefined time will not be as effective.
It will have an impact on existing RFE (Recency, Frequency, Engagement) segments, if you are solely relying on your email platform to calculate these segments.
In the longer term, it will also have an impact on deliverability. RFE segments based on email engagement are crucial for maintaining high deliverability rates, as you should not be sending emails to customers that are not engaging. However, if you are no longer able to tell who is opening your emails you will either risk continuing to send emails if they are not engaged or will stop sending email although they are reading your emails, but are not clicking through.
Yes, there are workarounds! Unlike with cookies, there is no industry standard for the way tracking tags are applied in emails. The technology is the same, but the way different email marketing vendors choose to implement those tags is different. This makes it hard for Apple to apply a blanket block on all tracking tags.
As email open tracking tags are effective images, the only way for Apple to prevent this entirely is by storing/caching all images on their own servers. This would be highly inefficient and wreak havoc with open-time email personalization technologies. Assuming Apple does not go down this road, they would just be blocking images that they assume to be tracking tags. This will result in yet another industry whack-a-mole with technology vendors trying to bypass the blocking and Apple looking for new ways to block.
I have always believed that consumer privacy choices should come first, therefore more privacy choices is a good thing! At Mapp, marketers have always been able to adjust tracking settings in line with their consumer privacy choices, rather than tracking everyone by default. Later this year, we are launching an additional set of features that allows our customers to track campaign performance results without the ability to identify individual consumers.
I also believe that email marketing KPIs need a major shake-up, as there is far too much emphasis on the high-level KPIs. Improving your email marketing performance based on deliverability, open and click rates is equivalent to improving your personal health purely by measuring your weight. Email is so much more than a channel that drives traffic to your website.
If you are considering what your marketing KPIs should look like and how to deliver insight-led customer experiences, I highly encourage you to watch a webinar I did earlier this year with our friends at The Drum:
Email Marketing: Are You Measuring It Wrong?