This week Movable Ink’s Strategy Team presented a webinar addressing Apple’s upcoming iOS 15 privacy changes that will affect how brands personalize their email communications, market to consumers, and measure campaigns.
The webinar offered tactics every marketer should keep in their back pocket in preparation for privacy changes. In case you missed it, here are the key takeaways from the webinar to keep in mind.
What’s the deal with Apple iOS 15 and email marketing?
Apple announced its newest privacy feature Mail Privacy Protection, which will soon stop email marketers from using tracking pixels. Apple will also mask the IP address of Apple Mail users, severely impacting open-rate and location tracking. As a result, contextual personalization that relies on time of open or IP address (location, time, device, etc.) will be limited moving forward.
On top of Mail Privacy Protection, users with paid iCloud+ accounts can create unlimited burner email addresses for specific websites and activate or deactivate them at will, similar to signing in with Apple to mask a user’s identity online. Subscribers will also have access to a private relay that encrypts all internet traffic. Consumers that opt-in to monthly Apple subscriptions will have higher levels of security that will likely contribute to even more phony email opens.
Is this the end of measuring email opens as marketers know it? It may very well be. Come September, images will be cached once they hit Apple’s server, which means all delivered emails will be recorded as “opened”. For brands that depend on email opens as a sole metric, these major changes to Apple Mail will throw a wrench in the works, as opens will no longer be a reliable baseline metric for email programs.
However, just because the way brands measure email campaigns may soon change doesn’t make it a bad thing. Open rates have become an increasingly unreliable metric, as email clicks can easily be attributed to opens. Brands should consider auditing their campaign metrics now, both operationally and internally, and place greater emphasis on metrics like impressions, delivery, click rates, and conversions.
First-Party Data Personalization
With Apple’s privacy changes, shifting to a first-party data focus is unavoidable. As third-party cookies and pixels continue to phase out and more consumers reclaim ownership of their data, brands will need to put their existing zero or first-party front and center if they plan to personalize emails effectively. But the argument for more zero and first-party data doesn’t need much convincing; marketers across all industries have been making more significant investments in this type of data. In fact, according to Signal, 75% of marketers cite first-party data as generating the greatest consumer insights and 62% of marketers believe first-party data garners the highest return on investment of any data type.
For marketing teams ready to adjust to Apple’s privacy controls, the first step is to understand what sources of first and zero-party data are accessible before September. One consideration can be off-the-shelf solutions with partners and marketing technologies to utilize existing data to activate content based on customer profiles and behavior.
Re-formulating Scorecards on Engagement
Apple’s iOS 15 may be the catalyst email marketing needs to measure engagement in new, more powerful ways. Preparing for the update will require brands to restructure and communicate new program scorecards driven by lower-funnel metrics such as clicks, conversions, or average order value (AOV). To successfully roll out new tracking methods, brands must ensure internal stakeholders understand the changes before open tracking is impacted.
Evolution of the Channel is Inevitable
Email is like the grandparent of digital marketing. With more than 50 years of evolution, it’s important to acknowledge that the channel has never remained stagnant. Email has evolved from a text-only, batch and blast medium into a highly visual, personalized, integrated channel, all against a backdrop of more stringent constraints on protecting the consumer’s security and privacy.
So why should brands be concerned that Apple or any other email provider will thwart more innovation or progress in the channel going forward? Email marketing has constantly evolved with higher privacy standards while delivering improved performance and a more personalized customer experience. Now is the time for marketing leaders to explore ways their brand can create even more effective 1:1 personalization in a new era of email privacy.
The iOS 15 update may require strategies to shift, but much of what is changing in email is still possible in mobile and even more impactful. Now is the time for brands to lean into privacy and personalization to fuel omnichannel roadmaps and double down on utilizing zero and first-party data to grab attention and deepen engagement.