Apple Mail Privacy
November 8, 2021

Apple is all set to apply for Mail Privacy Protection, which leads to speculations among email marketers. Let’s clear the air and understand this in more detail.

What is Mail Privacy Protection? (MPP)

When someone sends mail to the user, they can track whether the user has opened the mail or not. They also can determine the location. That’s why Apple has introduced MPP. What it does is hide a user’s IP address so senders can’t link it to their other online activity or determine their location. Also, they can’t see that you’ve opened the email they’ve sent you. This feature is now available for Apple’s Mail APP users for iPhone, iPad, Mac computers and Apple Watch.

Please note that MPP only applies to the Mail APP, and it will not affect other email APPS used on Apple devices like the Gmail APP on an iPhone. There is still a lot to learn about how Apple will implement MPP.

How to use it?

Go to Settings > Mail > Privacy Protection.
Turn on Protect Mail Activity.

When a user selects the “Protect Mail Activity” option, Apple first routes emails through a proxy server to pre-load the message content—including tracking pixels—before serving readers even if readers don’t open those emails.

Mail Privacy Protection was released on September 20, 2021, on all Apple devices alongside the release of iOS 15 and is available by default on Apple’s latest line of iPhones and iPad. It will take some time for users to upgrade their iOS and adopt the feature.

Why Do We Need MPP?

Apple Mail is one of the most popular mail programs used today, sharing approximately 52 percent of all email opens, according to Litmus. It’s also the default email application for users of all Apple devices.

That’s why MPP is needed since privacy has become a big issue worldwide. Apart from email, there have been are regulations General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to protect privacy.

How will it affect the open rate?

Apple Mail users will start using the latest iOS versions and activate Mail Privacy Protection, affecting the open rate. It’s high time for marketers to start looking beyond the open rate when measuring engagement and consider other metrics such as clicks and conversions in your reporting.

If you’re not using open rate as a measure of a successful marketing campaign, Mail Privacy Protection could still hurt your email program in other ways, such as:

1. You may not be able to prepare re-engagement campaigns because of the unavailability of data.
2. A/B testing subject lines using open rate won’t work anymore.
3. Audience/segmentation based on the last open rate is of no use now.
4. Individual user data like location, time opened, etc., Apple Mail users who have MPP enabled are no longer available to email marketers.

The good news is that email marketing best practices will stay the same. Email marketing focuses on driving tangible results, like increasing sales, reaching new customers, and engaging existing customers.

Why is the open rate important?

Open rate is commonly used for the following purpose:

1. Re-engagement Campaigns: Marketers can resend other mail if the user has opened the mail but didn’t respond.

2. Automated Lead Nurturing: Whenever there is the need to nurture your leads or existing customers with more information, an open rate is very beneficial.

3. Send Time Optimisation: Every user has a different time they check their emails. If an email has been sent at that particular time, there are high chances that the recipient will read it. Here we use open rate to determine and optimise send time.

4. Real-Time Personalisation: This is the ability to customise an email to an individual user that is relevant, reaching them at the optimal time on the optimal channel. Open rates play an important role here.

Monitoring Deliverability: A marketer can monitor engagement rates (whether someone is reading or deleting) and inactive rates (if a previously engaged subscriber is no longer opening your messages).

How will marketers do list hygiene?

Open rates have been to indicate disengagement. MPP will affect marketers and the users because they may get unwanted emails as marketers won’t be able to track inactivity and engagement-based segmentation.

So what now? Well, you won’t see real opens anymore; you will see real subscribers. Because Apple can only cache images if the Mail APP is running, this is an excellent signal to marketers that those email addresses are valid. And this is something they will want to track to maintain the hygiene of their email list.

How do you prepare for Mail Privacy Protection?

Mail Protection

1. Not everyone uses Apple Mail, so the more significant part of the audience will remain unaffected. Focus on creating a reliable open rate audience using non-Apple Mail clients. Also, update and promote your email preference centre. Move on to the new metrics such as click-through rate. Also, pay attention to the percentage of clicks your unsubscribe link receives compared to your other links. Run a re-engagement campaign to identify which subscribers are no longer engaging with your emails so you can move forward with a truly engaged audience. Your sender reputation will also get a boost from this improved list hygiene.

2. Heads on to testing, see what kind of creativity drives the best engagement. Think about improving your least engaging content so you can carry your learnings forward. Send emails that drive clicks and conversion.

3. Think about the SMS strategy if you haven’t given attention to it yet. Engagement metrics for SMS are clicks and replies, yet SMS sees excellent ROI. An SMS subscriber is even more engaged than an email subscriber as they have directly opted into receiving your content from a more interactive channel. Include a sneak peek with each piece of content along with a button to click to continue reading. This button can link to the whole piece of content on your blog, website, or landing page.

How do email marketing tools help to reduce the MPP effect?

Tools are offering filters for reporting to help their customers exclude MPP opens and use “real opens” as a more accurate measure of overall email engagement.

Real-time personalisation tools would help find alternatives to contextual personalisation, like collecting the subscriber’s zip code or postcode and using that instead of using an IP address to show the nearest store. Or, instead of a countdown timer, offer a broad “sale ending soon” message.

Artificial intelligence platforms for subject lines and copy are changing their optimisation approach based on open rates to other performance metrics, including clicks, opens, and conversions.

Email Marketing is not dead!

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection will bring a certain change in marketing and consumers who desire a personalised experience from the brands they trust. Brands will continue to deliver the best experience for their subscribers and customers. We have to adapt to new changes in the marketing world and strategies accordingly!

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