Apple is preparing to release iOS 15 later this month and it will have a large impact on people who track email opens.
The update includes an email privacy feature that will block email services from tracking which emails have been opened on Apple devices. No longer will you be able to accurately tell who has opened your emails when sending through email services like Mail Chimp, Hubspot, Gmail, or Marketo.
This article is not just for marketers, but for salespeople who use Barbour ABI data to email leads, companies who use email marketing services, and people who view email marketing reports. Anyone who monitors email opens.
Knowing who has opened your email is useful. You know who has shown some amount of interest in your message and which email addresses are still valid.
Not having this data means:
- Not knowing who is interested
- Not being able to measure campaign success by open rate
- Not being able to remove contacts from lists who have not opened emails
- Negative impact on Domain Authority as a result of sending bounced emails (danger of being flagged as junk)
Here’s what the update technically does, how to prepare for the impact, and thoughts on email marketing strategy after the iOS 15 update.
What the Update Does
Email marketing platforms embed single-pixel images in their emails. This pixel allows the platform to record who has opened the email. This information informs marketers about what email addresses are valid, who is interested in their emails, which subject lines are working, and more.
Apple, in a noble move to protect user’s privacy, is offering users the option to “protect my email” or “don’t protect my email” as they set up iOS 15 on their device.
Then Apple will automatically open every email through a process that runs in the background. This will scan email content and protect users. However, 100% of email-protected recipients will display as having opened the email, whether or not they actually have.
How to Prepare for the Impact
Project Prospecta’s research indicates that 34% of email recipients in the British construction industry use the latest Apple Email Client, iOS 14 (this data is courtesy of tracking pixels). These users are likely to update to iOS 15. This means that 34% of all email recipients will display in email marketing reports as having opened the email.
A typical benchmark for email opens in the construction industry is 21.7%, according to Mail Chimp. So get ready, your email open rates won’t drop, they’ll increase. But the reported bump won’t correspond with reality.
How to Work Around the Update
The way to get around this is to benchmark the percentage of Apple users who receive and open your emails now, so you can translate your metrics to more accurate estimations in the future.
For instance, you can benchmark that roughly 34% of your opens are due to Apple users, and then calculate what percentage of people opened your emails before, and apply that percentage to the 34% of email openers on your post iOS 15 campaigns.
Another thing to look out for is email bounces. Instead of showing up as a bounced email, these emails will likely show as opened. However, these opened-but-bounced emails may have a negative impact on your Domain Authority. Domain Authority determines deliverability. To protect your deliverability, it would be a good idea to go through your contact list now, and clean up any contacts that haven’t been engaged in a while, or have bounced recently. This will help you stay out of the junk folder.
Email Marketing Strategy Post iOS 15
All these solutions are short-term. Benchmarks are accurate for a little while, but as your audience’s behavior changes, these benchmarks will become obsolete. So, you need to have a plan to develop a new goal. A new metric. And implement strategies now to support this.
The alternative to monitoring the open is the click. Clicks measured by tracking links won’t be affected by pixel screening.
Email campaigns will have to start measuring success by clicks instead of opens. This is harder, but might push marketing teams to do better for their subscribers.
Clicks show who has not only opened an email but who has been interested enough in its contents to click through. This means, if you want to do email marketing, you have to have an offer that’s worth clicking on.
Not just a clever headline.
What’s the result? No more clumsy, brand-centric, self-promotional content that doesn’t engage the audience. Campaigns must have a goal and an offer that is as equally interesting to the audience as it is to the sender.
What If You Think You Don’t Have a Strong Content Offer?
Think you have a boring product? No interesting content? No value to offer besides a coupon? In every company Project Prospecta has worked with we have uncovered something unique, interesting, and valuable about the product or service they provide.
Your business is no different. Identifying your value proposition, and tying it to your brand story, gives you the right approach as you bring your product to market. Talk to Leigh at Insynth Marketing if you’d like some help identifying what that is.
But in the end, email marketers must change the goal of their campaign from getting opened, to being clicked. These are already the campaigns that are working the best. Campaigns that have a clear objective, that have a mutually beneficial and achievable goal for the recipient, the sender, and the platform.
In this style of campaign, instead of trying to sell someone your service or product, you’re trying to help them. You may be sending them important research you’ve compiled that’s relevant to their job role. You may be sending them a calendar link to a CPD - which has clear benefits for their practice. You may be sending them a calculator or checklist or video that would be helpful, informative, or entertaining. But whatever it is, it has to hold value for your audience, enough that they would click on it.
What Stops Contacts from Clicking?
The main obstacle to clicks is trying to sell too much too fast. Trying to get them to book a sales meeting. An email, in all likelihood, is not going to convince someone to buy from you.
Instead, think about a smaller objective that would help guide them down their buyer’s journey. Buyers today are self-educated, self-directed, and independent. They don’t want someone to try to sell them something. They just want someone to give them the information they need to make an informed decision, in the format that they want to get it.
Make sure this is available on your website, and then use the email click to get them there. When they get there, they have to find the content, and then find the information they need next in an accessible way.
Email campaigns post iOS 15 will be focused on clicks rather than opens. To achieve clicks, emails must contain valuable content offers. Once on the website, they should find all the information they need to self-educate and make an informed decision.
This is a more effective strategy than simply trying to get people to open your email – so in this way, iOS 15 will force us to think with greater clarity about our email marketing.
Creativity will be required, but in the midst of change, this is an opportunity for innovative companies and marketers.
If you’d like to develop a future-proofed email campaign, get in touch. You can book a one-hour consultation for free. In this meeting, the Project Prospecta team will talk through your business and marketing strategy and identify opportunities for you to make the most of Barbour ABI data and email marketing automation.