Changes to Apple mail to impact open rate metrics

1 September 2021 - Hannah Dillon

Changes to Apple mail to impact open rate metrics

Changes to Apple mail to impact open rate metrics

As the world becomes digitalised more and more each day, the voice for stronger privacy restrictions becomes louder. Apple is taking a leadership position, and in response to this call, they have issued a range of new privacy restrictions to their upcoming update, iOS 15. This includes changes to Apple Mail – which are set to shake the ecommerce world. 

In 2021, it was calculated that the ROI for every $1 spent on email marketing was $42, making it “the highest and most measurable ROI” in marketing. Further, Apple devices approximately accounted for 52% of all email opens (Litmus, 2021), accentuating the gravity of Apple’s new changes.

While these privacy changes may seem daunting in nature as they disrupt the widely accepted metrics, do not fret- there are clear, and even more efficient, ways to adapt. Here are some ways you can ensure you and your business are optimising your marketing strategies through Apple Mail!

To begin, what changes are actually coming with Apple’s latest update? Expected to roll out mid-September, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, says it will “give users deeper insights and more granular control than ever before.” This will be achieved through new features like App Privacy Report, iCloud +, and, most notably to the ecommerce space, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection.

This feature will give the user the option to ‘protect mail privacy’ when opening exclusively the Apple Mail app, meaning that marketers will be unable to tell if and when the user opens marketing emails.

This means two key things: the first, that marketers cannot see users IP addresses, “so senders can’t learn a user’s location or use it to build a profile on them” (Apple Newsroom Press Release, 2021). The second, that senders can no longer trust open rate metrics (ORM’s) as a source of analysing user interaction.

An ‘open’ is accounted for every time a user opens an email sent – so when the total number of opens recorded is contrasted with the amount of emails sent out, the open rate may be calculated. ORM’s are a common way to gauge how effective subject lines of emails are, while simultaneously understanding customer interaction with the company through that medium.

Apple’s update will effectively mean that anytime an email is sent out, it will be marked as opened regardless of whether it actually is, rendering this method useless.

If the open rate is a key metric that is important to your business, Litmus offers a formula for estimating the Apple users open rate.

Litmus formula to estimate the open rate.

(Percentage of Apple Mail openers ÷ 100) x 0.9 x 75 +
Open rate today x (1 – [Percentage of Apple Mail opener / 100 x 0.9])

Where 0.9 means the expected adoption rate of the new update and 75 means the expected open rate of Apple Mail clients (these variables can be adjusted according to particular predictions).

While ORM’s historically is certainly an important metric, the reliability of such method has been contested heavily- ultimately, what truly matters is the amount of paying customers.

Content Marketing Manager, Tom Simpkins, compares open rates to “the equivalent of window shoppers” with its abolishment acting as an opportunity for “the rest of your metrics [to report] active, engaging customers” instead.

So, what’s an alternative you should consider? 

Before anything, understanding where the majority of your market consumes your marketing content is crucial- while Apple Mail triumphs as a leading source it may not be the case for your company. The first metric, perhaps more effective than ORM’s to begin with, is Click-through rates (CTR).

CTR compares the number of users who click on a specific link in the email to the number of times your ad was shown – “the iOS 15 update has made the CTR the first measurable port of call for customer interaction” (Simpkins, 2021).

You can improve CTR by experimenting with the visual appearance of your emails – consider different aesthetics which capture the true essence of the brand while also keeping the email simple and attractive and with clear calls to action. 

While Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection may have an impact on your ability to quantify email engagement, there is no need to be concerned about this change.  With some attentiveness and preparation, your email marketing channel will remain a very important communication channel for your business.

For more info, check out Trendline’s presentation on how Apple’s “Mail Privacy Protection” Changes Email Marketing:

How Apple’s “Mail Privacy Protection” Changes Email Marketing: Part 1 | Trendline Interactive

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