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What B2B Marketers Needs to Know About Apple's New "Mail Privacy Protection"

Apple announced during this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference that the upcoming iOS 15 will have a Mail Privacy Protection feature. This is super important for digital marketers to know and reevaluate the metrics they focus on.

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, June 7, 2021 Press Release

If a reader enables Protect Mail Activity then marketers cannot link Opens to online activity or determine their location.

Instead of blocking the tracking pixel, Apple feeds them the wrong data. When this feature is turned on, the Apple device will download all images including the “tracking pixel”. The Open Rate, Time of Open, the actual IP, device and location will not be sent back to the sender. Everything will show as 100% opened.

What is the impact for marketing operations:

What won’t work anymore:

  • Reporting on Open Rates. Many have been considering open rates as vanity metrics anyway
  • Journeys and automation workflows based open rates
  • A/B Test based on subject lines
  • Time spent reading emails
  • Sent time optimization
  • Device used for reading emails
  • Determining the locating of a user based on where they open the email
  • List Hygiene: You cannot determine if someone is still an engaged record based on when they opened last.
  • Re-engagement & wake-up campaigns
  • Subscriber target audience, list, segmentation or cohort based on Open Rates

What is still a good practice:

If haven’t been using vanity metrics like Open Rates then you should be in good shape.

  • Focus on true signals of intent:
    • Campaign & Program Success
      • Make sure you exclude receiving servers that automatically click on all the links in your email. Those are not leads, they are not MQLs and they are not engaged people in your marketing database.
    • Call-to-Action Completion
    • Form Submission
    • Email Replies
  • Do not test subject lines based on Open Rates.
  • Database Management
    • Keep only engaged records, but not based on Open Rates
  • Review Attribution Model and make sure nothing is linked to Open Rates
  • Review Lead Scoring Model and make sure Email Opens are not a parameter

What’s Next

This is only the beginning of storm of privacy protection enhancements in the tech industry. We already lost third-party cookies and few legislations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have impaired different marketing.

Educate your internal stakeholders and teams to set different goals and change their approach to email testing, data hygiene and attribution.

We are expecting other email providers to follow this move and introduce similar features. Macro is keeping an eye on these developers and will keep you informed.

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“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent: it is the one most adaptable to change” - Charles Darwin
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