Is Apple’s Latest iOS Update A Massive Blow to Email Marketing?
Last September, Apple rolled out its newest mobile operating system, iOS 15, surprising the public with a string of groundbreaking features. But apart from its impressive redesign and productivity upgrades, what really sets this recent rollout apart from previous iOS versions is its widely enhanced data protection capabilities.
The iOS 15 addresses Apple users’ most pressing privacy concerns, especially regarding data sharing. But while this latest iOS update has made Apple devices almost impenetrable to breaches, it has also created major roadblocks to digital marketing efforts, specifically to email campaigns.
The newly released iOS 15 introduced the Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), a feature that hides users’ IP addresses to prevent email senders from tracking their mobile activities. While this new feature was met with positive feedback by Apple users, it’s caused a major headache for marketers when it comes to tracking their email campaign performance.
The MPP blocks the use of invisible tracking pixels, which were used by marketers in the past to extract valuable information, such as recipients’ locations, devices, and phone activities. And since email content is run through proxy servers in iOS 15, recipients’ IP addresses and other data are now made invisible to marketers.
Further, with the MPP turned on, emails that reach the Apple Mail inbox will be automatically downloaded in the background and stored into the Apple Privacy Cache. This means the email content will be preloaded even if users don’t open them. As a result, marketers will end up generating open rate results that are imprecise and likely inflated.
Indeed, measuring the actual read rates of email campaigns becomes more difficult with this newest update. And with the most critical marketing benchmark out the window, marketers must rely on click-through rates, conversion rates, and other metrics to accurately gauge the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
In the same vein, the MPP also puts a strain on the testing practices of email campaigns. Since open rates are no longer a reliable metric for testing, marketers need to consider other methods that don’t use open rates as the key benchmark in measuring the performance of email campaigns.
Aside from testing and monitoring email performance, contextual personalization is another area weakened by the recent iOS rollout. Tailoring email campaigns based on user activity and location becomes close to impossible with iOS 15’s MPP.
Certainly, with limited data at hand, marketers will find it harder to send out more personalized campaigns to their contact lists. So to make email efforts more targeted, most marketers will likely pursue other techniques to collect valuable information about their target audiences — surveys, sign-up forms, social media activities, or customer purchase histories. Onboarding emails will also become a great opportunity to collect personal information from users.
The good news is that consumers (83%) are still willing to give out personal information to businesses in exchange for more targeted campaigns. For marketers, exploring different techniques for data collection can still make up for this recent setback. Furthermore, there are still third-party tools that they can use to collect useful consumer insights in building personalized initiatives.
While these privacy control changes only apply to emails opened using the iOS 15 Mail application, this recent Apple update can still hurt email campaigns at large, considering Apple Mail has a global market share of 35%. But of course, this recent change is just a bump in the road for marketers. The challenge for them is to be more intentional, innovative, and inventive with their marketing tactics, especially in this ever-changing digital landscape.