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Is Apple’s New Privacy Feature Hobbling Your Email Marketing Program?

Apple recently announced a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection. To protect customer privacy, iOS 15 and Apple Mail will preload images in emails, including tracking pixels, which are commonly used by marketers to track email opens. This update may affect the accuracy of your email reporting by impeding your system’s ability to reliably determine which contacts opened which emails when using Apple Mail. This includes anyone who checks their email on the Mail app, no matter which email domain they use (such as Gmail and Yahoo).

Systems are clamoring for work-arounds but here is a rundown of the features most likely to be impacted and what you can do to minimize the impact on your business’ email marketing strategy and results.

Number 1: Your Metrics are Being Compromised

Open rates will now be inaccurate. You’ll see a higher open rate but you won’t know if that’s due to Apple pre-loading or a human actually opening your email. My best advice about this issue is to simply ignore your open rates (even if you continue to track them) until this issue has been systematically addressed.

Most email marketing systems calculate their click through rates as a percentage of openers who clicked. Since the open rate tracking is now compromised, you’re best off to just track the number of clicks on your emails and ignore the click through rate.

Number 2: Second Sends are Being Compromised

Re-sends to non-openers is a critical tactic when you’re trying to increase your open and click rates and ultimately increase your conversions from your email campaigns. Unfortunately, this new update impedes the system’s ability to see who has actually opened the email and, therefore, is likely to re-send to fewer folks than actually necessary. My advice here is to keep using the re-send feature but to monitor the click thru and unsubscribe rates over the next few months to evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy.

Number 3: Your Automations May Be Compromised

The issue arises when you are using “opened an email” as the trigger since the data on who actually opened your emails is now compromised. I recommend checking any of your automation or “drip” campaigns to be sure open data from prior emails isn’t being used as a trigger. You can still use triggers like purchases, clicks and list adds reliably.

Number 4: Your Segments or Tags Could Be Compromised

You’re likely to have the same issues with your segmentation or tags as you had with your automations. If any of your segments are based on folks who opened a certain email, they will no longer be accurate. You’ll want to use other triggers like clicks, purchases or list adds.


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