What Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Update Means for Email Marketers

Late last month Apple released a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) which anonymizes open tracking and prevents email marketers from viewing certain data that tells them how MPP-enabled recipients engage with their emails. This update affects any email opened from the Apple Mail app on any device—no matter which email service is used such as Gmail or a work account. Email marketers must now pivot to accommodate the new changes by finding alternative ways to collect valuable data that help create successful campaigns. 

What is Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection?

Mail Privacy Protection is a new option on Apple device settings of iOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey. According to Apple, “MPP hides your IP address, so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location. And it prevents senders from seeing if and when you’ve opened their email.” 

The new update will only affect Apple Mail users and not recipients who use Gmail, Outlook, or other applications. However, the Apple Mail desktop client comprises 58% of desktop client market share, and 90% of mobile opens are from an Apple iPhone. As more users of Apple products update their software and opt-in to this new feature, marketing metrics will shift.

Apple is not the first to initiate higher security features with a focus on user privacy. However, with Apple products accounting for about 40% of email client usage, this change is likely to have the largest impact on the email marketing industry. Does it mean that Open Rates are meaningless? Not quite – though it will make open rates for Apple recipients less relevant. 

How does this affect email marketers?

When an email is sent to someone with MPP enabled, Apple will immediately download all content in the email instead of waiting for the recipient to open it. Now emails will look as if they’ve been opened, causing open rates to become inflated. The changes bring some challenges for email marketers who use open rate data to uncover helpful information such as best send times, likely buyers, disinterested prospects, re-engagement potential, or to trigger automated email flows. This data helps to create lead lists for their clients, test subject lines/headers, and create personalized campaigns. 

However, with the possibility of open data becoming less reliable, it is critical that marketers pivot to alternative ways to measure the performance of email programs. In this Mail Privacy Protection Survival Guide for Marketers, Litmus outlines some actionable tactics to optimize and “privacy proof” your email marketing program. Creating a reliable “opens” audience using non-Apple Mail clients or expanding the engagement metrics used to measure success through click data are two different strategies to keep campaigns efficient and reliable. 

How will this impact OneAffiniti’s campaigns for channel partners? 

It won’t. Open rate numbers are only one part of the picture for us; we place equal—if not more—value on other metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, buying history, and unsubscribe rates to guide our qualification processes. We also understand how genuine engagement, quality content, social media know-how, industry insight, and reliable data all serve as critical pieces to the marketing puzzle, which is why we have a highly-skilled team of marketers crafting and executing your campaigns. 

Some email experts have pointed out that there is one positive thing to come out of this update: MPP can help you maintain a healthy email list. Because Apple can only cache images if the Mail app is running, it’s a great signal to marketers that those email addresses are valid. So while you won’t see real opens anymore, you will see real subscribers.  

Privacy has become a big issue in recent years, with data protection laws like GDPR and CCPA taking effect and most recently, talk about the loss of third-party cookies. Features like MPP were only a matter of time, and serve as a good reminder for both vendors and channel partners to get ready to create and implement “privacy proof” email marketing strategies. 

Have more questions about MPP? You may reach out to your OneAffiniti representative; we are here to help.

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