Has Apple killed email?
There were a series of privacy upgrades and changes to Apple operating systems announced at last week’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, changing the way millions of people’s data will be used.
When the keynote started, a good chunk of time was given to showcase subtle software upgrades. For many, boredom started to set in until the first mention of “privacy” woke everyone up.
One of the many privacy updates announced by Apple was a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection, which restricts email services and senders from collecting information about its users.
In its official announcement, Apple says: “In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location”.
Katie Skinner, User Privacy Software Manager
How it works
This new Mail Privacy Protection prompts users to select whether they want to ‘protect mail activity’ or not. If they choose the ‘protect mail activity’ option, Apple Mail will hide their IP and load remote content privately.
It’s important to note that this new feature will only impact emails read using the Apple Mail app. So, for those reading emails on an iPhone using the Gmail app, for example, this Mail Privacy Protection will not apply.
How does this impact users and marketers?
With a staggering 96% of Apple users opting not to be tracked after the recent privacy feature, App Tracking Transparency, was introduced, it’s safe to assume that most users will choose to hide their activity from third parties on the new Mail Privacy Protection feature too.
And while more privacy is always good news, the Mail Privacy Protection will cause some headaches, not just for marketers, but the users receiving emails.
All emails sent to Apple Mail users that have enabled Mail Privacy Protection will display as opened, even if the recipient ignores it. Now, that’s an issue for a range of reasons.
Segmented and automated campaigns
Some campaigns are segmented or automated and rely on open metrics to determine what email they’ll get next. These types of emails are likely to be impacted.
Some senders use location tracking to send real-time personalised email content based on where the user is when they open the email. This type of email will no longer be available for enabled Mail Privacy Protection users.
Email performance and success rates
With the open rates provided by Apple Mail users no longer reliable, senders will need to focus on click-through rates and conversions, to determine the success of an email campaign. This is no bad thing – most communications should be focused on encouraging an action to be taken, but most agencies still focus on open rates.
How can communications professionals prepare for these changes?
Communicators will need to look beyond open rates to measure the success of an email campaign and start focusing on other metrics, such as delivery rates and click-through rates, as well as ensuring email lists are up to date.
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