As an email marketer, one of the most important metrics we use to determine whether our audience is actually reading our content is the open rate.
By tracking email openings, we can determine if our subject lines are getting through to our audience. If we can’t get them to open an email, we can’t get them to click on it and follow the customer journey.
With the introduction of the new data protection features of Apple iOS 15, our open rates are at risk. But is that bad?
Let’s start with some information about how this new feature works.
Here’s how Apple’s email privacy feature works
After upgrading an iOS device to iOS 15, when you open the Apple Mail app, you’ll see a pop-up asking if you want to “Protect Mail Activity”.
If you choose Protect Email Activity, Apple first routes your email through a proxy server to preload message content, including tracking pixels, before it hits your inbox.
What does that mean for you?
According to Apple, Mail Privacy Protection hides your IP address so that senders cannot associate it with your other online activities or determine your location. And it prevents senders from seeing if and when you have opened their e-mail. “
What does this mean for email marketers?
Email privacy affects all emails opened through the Apple Mail app on any device, regardless of which email service is used, e.g. B. Gmail or a work address. However, this does not affect other email apps used on Apple devices, such as the Gmail app on an iPhone.
If you’re an email marketer, you might still be wondering how this change will affect your strategy. To help you out, we’ve decided to highlight the steps our email team is taking to customize our strategy and process around these email privacy features.
Here are some of the steps we are taking and we encourage you to join us
Here’s how HubSpot email marketers are responding to iOS 15
1. Take stock of the current processes.
Before Apple’s iOS 15 changes went live, we checked all of our existing email programs.
First, we wanted to understand the potential business impact of this change. Using HubSpot’s email reporting tools, we were able to evaluate the portion of our database that uses Apple Mail clients. It is important to understand this number in order to estimate how large the impact these iOS changes will have on our ability to see accurate email performance data in the future.
Next, we documented which subject lines worked best for each of our personas.
While we follow email subject line best practices, most email marketers know that this will only get you this far. Things like the number of characters and action-oriented language are just guard rails that guide us when writing subject lines. From then on, we’ve experimented extensively with language, structure, and yes – even emojis – to find out what resonates with each of our personalities.
This documentation provides my team with a library of subject lines and guard rails that we can use in a world without precise open data.
Finally, we documented email benchmarks for all of our programs. While the privacy update only affects openings, it also means that all other metrics that use open data are also affected – e.g. We can use these benchmarks to measure the impact of this iOS change on all of our email metrics.
2. Open Email Reporting.
When reporting email performance, one of the first metrics to consider is open rate. How successful have we been in getting our recipients to open our emails? Well that will change.
Email marketers will need to shift their focus to stable metrics like clicks, click rate (clicks / emails delivered), and conversion rate. This is our plan.
While this change can be painful, we believe it is the right course of action. Viewing clicks and conversions is much more closely linked to the database engaging with your e-mail programs.
Promoting the action through a CTA click and subsequent conversion is the ultimate goal of most of the emails sent today. Focusing on clicks and conversions will allow marketers to better optimize their programs to get real engagement with their database.
However, the open rates won’t go away. You will just be – different. It will also be important to keep track of the open rates for your email programs over time. We will have to set new benchmarks after the IOS update is generally rolled out. From there, we can continue to run subject line tests and see if we can improve the open rates against the new benchmark.
3. Stay on the (automatic) course.
While some things are changing for us when it comes to reports and experimentation with subject lines, our overarching strategy doesn’t follow suit.
At HubSpot, we’ve never relied on open data to segment or personalize our automated email programs. I know this violates proven drip campaign logic, which relies heavily on whether a contact has opened an email. Instead, we focus our segmentation and personalization on the behavior of our contacts on our website and in our app.
We have found that this behavioral segmentation is most successful when you are trying to get in touch with our target audience.
Take our email onboarding experience, for example.
We have a welcome email that we send to each contact when they log in to HubSpot that is filled with resources to get started.
The next email contacts receive is not based on how they interacted with our welcome email, but rather on how they interacted with our product. Depending on the tools they have used (or not) we will send them a personalized email with suggestions for the next tool they want to explore.
We’re staying on track here, focusing on behavior towards email interaction.
4. Understand the implications for your strategies.
According to Litmus, if the Apple Mail audience opts for mail privacy, marketers could face the following issues:
- Any audience cohort, segmentation, or targeting based on the last opened date would be rendered useless – especially important for deleting inactive contacts.
- Automated processes and trips that rely on someone opening an email would have to be revised.
- A / B testing subject lines (or anything else) with opens to determine the winner or to automatically send the winner will no longer work.
- The optimization of the airtime would become imprecise.
- Countdown timers may be showing stale times because the cached version was obtained when the email was sent – not when it was opened.
- Other content supported by Opens, such as the local weather or the location nearby, would also be incorrect.
- Some interactive emails referencing external CSS may not work.
5. Weigh alternatives.
Although some elements of email marketing will be more difficult with iOS 15, marketers can still use some creative alternatives to keep sending subscribers interesting and engaging content.
For example, although you may not also be able to optimize the send time without proper open tracking, you can manually analyze email performance based on the send time or send emails based on the send times for the best global performance across industries.
While you may not be able to automate location-specific banners or weather reports for Apple users, you can still use zip code information they submitted in previous forms to send them location-based content.
While these alternatives may not be perfect or easy to streamline through automation, they can still provide your audience with a somewhat more personalized email experience.
6. Discover additional tools.
While the HubSpot product team continues to monitor and act on how iOS 15 impacts email marketing tools, there are also additional tools and integrations you can use with HubSpot’s email platform to make impressive emails -Create emails.
For example, Litmus is a paid tool that HubSpot users can use to track their HubSpot emails. According to a recent post by the company, it allows users to see “reliable openings” as well as the total number of openings affected by Apple privacy, which can help email marketers determine the impact of Apple’s iOS changes .
First and foremost, don’t panic! While iOS 15 is forcing email marketers to change strategy and processes, it certainly doesn’t mean email marketing is going away.
Apple’s introduction of iOS 15 and its email privacy feature is an indication of a bigger shift we’re seeing in the digital marketing space. More and more private individuals are interested in how their personal data is collected, stored and used. This trend will only increase as more and more companies take protective measures for their customers.
As an email marketer, it’s our responsibility to honor the inbox of every contact in our database with a personalized experience. With iOS 15, personalization has become more difficult.
As data protection continues to grow and evolve, personalization becomes even more difficult. The best we can do in the future is to stay tuned and adjust our strategies accordingly. Because at the end of the day, email marketing is really about delivering value to the people on the other end of that inbox.
Would you like more background information on Apple’s privacy practices? Check out this post. To learn more about how this move could specifically affect your processes within HubSpot’s email tool, follow this community thread.