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What Apple Mail Privacy Protection Means for Content Personalization

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • Apple announced changes to Apple Mail to enhance consumer privacy.

  • These changes will mean a shift from real-time to recent-time content generation.

  • Countdown timers are a thing of the past. Zero and first-party data are the future and have been part of Movable Ink’s playbook for years.

  • As always, our Client Experience and Strategy teams are here for you.

Apple Mail

On Monday, June 7, 2021, Apple made several announcements at WWDC, some of which were related to Apple Mail, the default email client on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Apple introduced Mail Privacy Protection, which will ship with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 in September 2021.

Mail Privacy Protection includes the following features:

  • Proxying images to mask a recipient’s specific IP address and only show a regionalized IP address.

  • Loading remote images at some point in time between when a recipient opens and when the message was sent.

  • Caching the image, post-download for all Apple devices for the recipient.

  • Paid iCloud+ upgrades that include a private relay that encrypts all internet traffic.

From our data, we can tell that Apple Mail on iOS and iPad represents 46% of email opens (in the US and UK), a meaningful audience, for sure. However, as email marketers, we need to re-think aspects of our email programs, including list hygiene, ad monetization of newsletters, deliverability, send-time optimization, journey splits, subject line testing, reporting, and of course, Movable Ink’s specialty: content personalization. I won’t comment on the other areas, but I’d like to share my thoughts on the last topic. 

Is it game over for content personalization? Surely it must be. Think of all the countdown timers, geo/IP-based offers, and promotions for umbrellas in places where it’s raining, now broken. The problem with the content personalization category is that it refers to all sorts of use cases bundled into one. 

Countdown timers were always a red herring. In 2011, when Movable Ink was a startup, businesses looked for novelty and ways to stand out in the crowded inbox. We focused on generating content around contextual data unknown to the marketer until open-time: location, weather, current time, device. Companies were intrigued by doing something that had never been done before. Timers were eye-catching. 

Here’s the reality, content personalization is much bigger than the superficial use cases above. It has become a fundamental part of a modern marketer’s strategy and we have barely scratched the surface.

Going Deeper

By 2015 we began to see a distinct shift in our customers’ focus. Dozens of our most innovative customers in the Fortune 500 recognized content personalization’s potential to solve bigger problems. Every marketing team has strategic personalization initiatives that are important to achieve in a year or over multiple years. But they find it difficult to access and action on first-party data that are scattered across their companies, behind APIs, in CSV files, or in existing technologies like CRMs, CDPs, loyalty management systems, or pricing engines. And if they finally gain access, it’s more common that the data informs whom to send the email to.

But people don’t experience data; they experience content. Marketing teams come up with hundreds of campaigns, segments, triggers, and journeys but cannot keep up with content demands and often fall back to generic content that fails to leave a mark. Months of planning are required, and content is often locked weeks before a campaign is deployed. Lack of resources, data access, and manual processes create a content bottleneck. It becomes impossible to create millions of variations and reach the goal of one-to-one personalization. This is the real challenge. In 2015, we made it our mission to solve it, and it has been central to our growth ever since.

Movable Ink activates any data into personalized content in any customer engagement. It is a powerful extension of the technologies that marketers use today. Content easily connects to all relevant data no matter where it lives, updates based upon a recipient’s most recent interactions, and is auto-generated, post-send, to be unique for each individual.

Impact of Apple Changes

The changes coming in September will mean that most email content will no longer be loaded at open-time within Apple Mail. Movable Ink-powered content will be generated between send time and email open time within Apple Mail. For most use-cases, the difference between real-time generation and recent-time generation (minutes or hours earlier) is immaterial. Marketing teams have made it clear that they ascribe the real value to Movable Ink’s data access, automation, personalization, and content assembly capabilities above all else. We have accomplished this while setting the highest standards of security & privacy, as evidenced by our SOC2 Type 2 certification and ISO 27001 and 27701 certifications. We are firm believers that focusing on security and privacy is the right thing to do. Zero-party and first-party data must be central to a marketing strategy. It’s important to people, and it will help businesses build relationships based on trust and transparency.

At this point, you may be nodding your head along but pausing and saying, “It’s a nice story, but is there data to suggest that 1st-party data activation has ascended in importance over contextual data?” We wondered the same thing. To be certain, we decided to pull the aggregate data from all content powered from January 1 – June 6, 2021. These represent over 300 billion impressions. Here is what the data says. 

The use of contextual targeting has trended down for years and today represents a minority of overall impressions:

  • 0.2% of app impressions were countdown timers. 

  • 0.6% of app impressions have an IP-based geo-targeting rule. Regional IP addresses are still available. By a large margin, our customers prefer to use on-file zip codes for geo-targeting.

  • 4.6% of app impressions have a device targeting rule. It is still possible to distinguish between Apple, Google, and Microsoft. 

  • 1.6% of time targeting impressions occur within one day of the targeted time. 2.8% of impressions occur within five days of targeted time. Time only factors in for a small percentage of email opens.

Movable Ink’s core value proposition makes it incredibly simple to personalize content through integrations into 0-party data, 1st-party data, and existing martech technologies. Our customers have successfully achieved this for years.

What’s Next

With all that being said, you may have questions about your current use cases. Our client experience and strategy teams carry decades of email and industry-specific experience. We are here to fully support you and will audit your use cases and make recommendations. We can also suggest marketing strategies to ensure you use your existing data assets to their fullest potential. These strategies have been field-tested over years and will help you reach your personalization and one-to-one marketing goals. Over the coming weeks and months we’ll help you identify new opportunities and execute these campaigns well ahead of the September iOS 15 release date. The Movable Ink team and I are here for you every step of the way, as we were during the pandemic. In a world of digital transformation, first-party data, identity, and personalization, the opportunity for email marketers has never been greater.

If you’d like to learn more about data-driven use cases or content personalization in email or mobile, I invite you to reach out to your client experience manager. Our long-term vision is to support your personalization efforts in every channel you engage your customers. Thank you for choosing us to help you drive your marketing success.

Vivek Sharma

CEO & Co-Founder, Movable Ink

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