Email remains a powerful channel for organizations to engage with their customers. As such, it has a significant impact on the overall marketing success and organizational growth. However, with a few days left before the release of Apple's iOS 15, there's speculation over the impact its new privacy capabilities will have on email marketing.
Let's review together what these capabilities are and the tips you can adopt to continue to delight your customers.
iOS 15 will come with enhanced privacy capabilities in Apple's Mail Privacy Protection. According to Apple, Mail Privacy Protection will stop senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about customers using the Mail application. This feature will prevent senders (brands) from knowing when customers open one of their marketing emails. IP addresses will be masked and no longer linked to other online activities or used to determine users' location.
Hide My Email is another capability brought by Apple to let users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private. This capability is built directly into Safari, iCloud settings, and Mail. It also enables users to create and delete as many addresses as needed at any time, helping give users control of who can contact them.
Who will be affected?
All organizations engaging with any customer migrating to iOS 15 and using Apple Mail will be impacted. If customers are not using the Mail app, the Hide My Email capability will still affect brands with customers using Safari on iOS 15. As customers interact with brands and fill forms (e.g. signing up for a newsletter or to create an account), they will have the opportunity to mask their personal email by using a temporary one generated by Hide My Email.
What's the impact?
These new capabilities will have an impact on CX professionals and organizations on three levels:
— Open rates will cease to be a reliable engagement metric;
— A/B testing on email's subject line will be a thing of the past;
— Email bounces will likely increase as temporary email addresses are deactivated over time by customers;
Six tips for maintaining relevant email programs using iOS 15:
Here are the top 6 tips you can adopt today to continue running your email campaigns smoothly.
1- Stop measuring engagement using open rates
Open rates were never an accurate measure of customer engagement. With iOS 15, this rate becomes even less relevant. Unless you are in the business of selling valid and active email addresses, I recommend you avoid using open rates as a reliable measure of engagement.
2- Pivot to using metrics such as clicks and conversions
With open rates becoming irrelevant to measure the success of an email campaign, I suggest you start (or continue) to measure engagement using clicks, click-through, and conversion rates which are all solid metrics to measure the level of engagement of your customers.
3- Avoid segmenting using email opens
To build on the first tip, I still see brands using email opens to create their segments (e.g. "I want to know who opened last month's promotional email campaign"). These segments are, then, used to feed one-off or automated journeys. Although there's value in following up with customers who haven't reacted to previous communications, I recommend avoiding using opens and rather use clicks instead. Since email marketing is more effective when segmentation includes data from other channels (mobile app, website, call center, pos, and chatbot, to name a few), I also recommend using cross-channel data to enhance your segmentation.
4- Avoid relying on 3rd party data
The best approach to win your customers' trust is to pivot to a first-party data strategy and only collect what they are comfortable sharing with you. Since customer data is collected through different sources (e.g. website, email, mobile apps, crm, and more), this emphasizes the necessity of data stitching and creating an accurate 360 view of your customers. This view will help you build more robust segments and power even more personalized email experiences.
5- Maintain good data hygiene
Since iOS 15 users will have the opportunity to mask their personal email by using a temporary one generated by Hide My Email, it will be essential for you to watch your email bounce rates and regularly clean any deprecated customer record.
6- Treat mobile and desktop experiences separately and holistically
Since the Apple announcements only apply to iOS upgrades, desktop experiences won't be affected. As such, you will probably see a difference in behavior as your customers use one or the other. Therefore, it is crucial that you measure the customer experience as a whole, taking into account their interactions across channels and screens.
With 43% of consumers checking their emails from a mobile device and nearly 39% using Apple's Mail (source: Litmus), these recent privacy announcements will have an impact on your email campaigns. Beyond the six tips I shared above, the main takeaway I would recommend is to use this event as an opportunity to rethink or adjust how you want to measure the success of your engagement tactics. Performance can't be measured using isolated metrics (such as opens) but rather holistically as the sum of multiple touchpoints, reactions, conversions, ultimately leading to customer satisfaction.