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What you need to know about Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

Digital email marketing just got trickier. While Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is a great feature for consumers who want more privacy and anonymity amid the era of online tracking — and it’s certainly not the first time — it may be leaving you scrambling to find ways to optimize and maintain your email marketing’s performance without reliable open rates.

What is MPP?

Mail Privacy Protection prevents the use of tracking pixels to collect user information within the Mail app, hiding a user’s IP address and preventing senders from linking it to other online activity, determining their location or finding out if and when a user has opened their email. 
MPP was rolled out on September 20, 2021, for the Apple Mail app on IOS 15 and IpadOS 15. It will be available on Macbooks later this year, though no official date has been announced.

How does MPP work?

To track opens, many email platforms place a tracking pixel in the email that, when downloaded along with the images, triggers the mail to be counted as “opened.” However, Apple will now be pre-downloading email images and storing a copy of the images to a new location on the Apple Privacy Cache, regardless of whether the email has been opened by the user.
When the user does open the email, the images are downloaded from the Apple Cache. This means that you won’t be able to see when or if an email is actually opened, and you will see inflated open rates from all emails opened with Apple Mail.
MPP also hides a user’s IP address, preventing companies from gathering other personalized information on users based on past online activity and location.

How will MPP affect my email marketing?

MPP affects any email opened on the Apple Mail app, regardless of the email client, but it does not affect emails opened with other apps, such as the Gmail app. In general, MPP is not turned on by default; users are given the choice to activate MPP, and they can select which specific features they want to enable in Settings. (It is, however, turned on automatically for users who have a default mail client other than Apple Mail.) 
Even so, it’s hard for many consumers to resist privacy protection. In fact, Litmus estimates that the peak adoption rate of this feature, which will be several months from now, will be 75% of users. Currently, the adoption rate is around 20%
Not being able to tell who is opening your emails, as well as when and where they were opened, or link a user’s IP address to other online activity can affect many things:

  • optimizing send time
  • identifying unengaged subscribers
  • crafting re-engagement email campaigns
  • sending automatic follow-up and retargeting emails
  • monitoring email deliverability
  • A/B testing subject lines and preview text
  • personalizing emails based on location or time opened
  • assessing insights informed by open rate, such as click-to-open rate

This will affect almost every company, as Litmus data shows that IOS Mail, MacOS Mail and IpadOS Mail combined account for almost half of all email opens.

How do I keep my email marketing strong?

Focus on other metrics that measure performance and engagement, such as clicks, actions, and unsubscribes. However, you shouldn’t rely on email metrics alone to measure email campaign effectiveness.

“The email community is in a state of wait and see,” says Chris King, Client Email Specialist at Randall-Reilly. “At Randall-Reilly, we are encouraging the use of tracking on every URL. Going forward, we will base email campaign success on page views/conversions on the website, instead of relying solely on standard email metrics like open and clicks.”

After all, your email campaigns are not solely meant to be opened by subscribers. They are meant to boost website traffic, bring attention to new products or increase sales of existing offerings. You can even still optimize your subject line, preview text and send time with A/B testing by studying the level of engagement with each email.
URL tracking can be used to determine where exactly your webpage traffic is coming from, such as organically or from email marketing campaigns.
To aid in email personalization, ask your subscribers directly what they want to see, where they are and more to create audience segments.

Conclusion

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is not the end of email marketing, but it does change things. It will be harder to optimize and personalize emails because open rates from Apple Mail will be inflated and user IP addresses will be hidden. To keep your email marketing strong, you’ll need to measure other metrics for engagement, such as clicks, conversions and website traffic. You also need to be prepared to send out surveys to users so you can personalize your messaging.
 

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