You may remember around this time last year the release of Apple’s iOS 14 sent the digital advertising world into a spin with new software that was to clamp down on the data available to advertisers and limit the extent that users could be tracked across the internet. This rollout created a shift towards email marketing and placed an importance on collecting your own first person data (through building your email list!).
Well, Apple are back at it again with another curveball for advertisers. iOS 15 is here, and it’s about to change digital marketing…again.
THE CURRENT STATE OF PLAY
Digital advertisers (like me!) rely on data from several sources to gauge the performance of our email marketing. This data can affirm a strategy or cause a pivot to something entirely new. We test to get data and make decisions from the data.
The most important and first looked at data point in any email marketing campaign is the open rate. We can gauge the success of an EDM simply by looking at how many users opened it – simple!
But what if we couldn’t see that…?
WHAT ARE APPLE UP TO?
With the release of iOS 15 Apple are bringing in two new features that are sure to send shivers up the spines of email marketing power users – Mail Privacy Protection and Hide My Email. These are privacy and data tracking features specifically designed to protect email data.
So what are they? How do they work?
Let’s start with Mail Privacy Protection. This feature allows users the option to load remote content privately without having to disclose their IP addresses. “But I don’t understand those words!?” I hear you say. No big deal, the long and short of it is that this feature will prevent you from tracking opens and email forwards whilst also hiding the recipient’s physical location. That’s a pretty big deal!
This feature will leave email marketer’s completely blind to email open rates for users who have opted-in to that feature. Everyone else (those on desktop and Android) will all still be trackable.
By looking at email marketing data across a number of our clients, it’s easy to see that the majority of emails are opened on smartphones and the majority of those smartphones run iOS. If Android was to follow suit, over 98% of email users would have the ability to opt-out of tracking.
The second feature is called Hide My Email and this will allow users to generate a random email address each time they sign up for a mailing list. Emails to a randomised address owned by an iOS user then get auto-forwarded to the users legitimate email address. The user can then quickly delete the ‘burner’ email address and prevent their email address from being spread across the web – no more buying dodgy email lists! In theory this should greatly reduce spam email to iOS users.
Whilst a handy feature for stopping spam, this creates a few issues for marketers. The main issue being that there’s no easy way to tell if a new sign up is legitimate address or a ‘burner’. This should cause delivery issues when the subscriber quickly deletes the email – look for a big increase in bounces!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Now’s the time to be testing – find what the baseline is for your account’s results.
Once the rollout happens and users begin to opt-in to Mail Privacy Protection and Hide My Email we’ll start to see a decline in results. It’s important to find out what works well for your email marketing now and make a note of it so that you can accurately measure the impact and adjust expectations and KPIs accordingly.
Hide My Email is going to impact deliverability and result in a high bounce rate among new subscribers. Make sure you’re using a provider that removes hard bounces from your list as they happen.
Apple is more than likely going to continue their focus on user privacy, which is great to see for consumers (not so great for advertisers). We should see more privacy features in future iOS updates which should be prompting you to review your digital strategy. Should you be focussing more on SEO, Google Ads or maybe using TikTok or Reddit to diversify your digital spend?
For a strategy reset or more information on any potential advertising channel get in touch; we’re always up for a chat!