October 13, 2021
 min read

How iOS 15 Privacy Updates Affect Email Marketing Tactics

Will Boyd

In September 2021, Apple released iOS 15, the much-anticipated rollout of their new Privacy Protection features. With these privacy updates, marketers are seeing an impact on their data collection. Possibly the most significant impact marketers face from the iOS 15 privacy update is a decrease in the accuracy of open rates. Going forward, email opens will no longer be an indicator that a human has opened a message. And while open events have not been an accurate measure of human interest, they have been the most accessible metric for marketers to utilize for making deliverability decisions. With this additional layer of inaccuracy, marketers must shift how they look at recipient engagement to be less focused on open events and more focused on other data points. This additional context could more accurately indicate a genuine interest from the human receiving the message.

Short Term Impact of iOS 15 Privacy Updates

While the email industry doesn’t fully know how these changes will impact senders, what we do know is that Apple’s Privacy Protection will:

  • Increase the number of open events regardless of whether or not users opened the message
  • Impact the accuracy of this data for recipients across all domains- iOS15 Mail app users that opt-in will utilize email addresses at all mailbox providers
  • Decrease the accuracy of timestamp, device, and location information

Using More Data in Email Deliverability

Traditionally, marketers rely on open events to identify potential inboxing problems and to identify unengaged subscribers. Therefore, marketers will need to adjust how they look for this kind of information moving forward to make the most accurate decisions on deliverability. To identify potential inbox problems, senders will need to expand their view of data and trends to be more accurate in their assumptions. Senders will still look to open rates as a factor but will need to include more data points in their calculations. For example, by comparing changes in open rates to other datasets like click rates and conversions, senders can understand how mailbox providers process their messages. Similarly, when senders decide who to target to protect or repair their deliverability results, metrics like last opened or messages since last opened won’t be as effective moving forward. Thus, senders will need to also adjust the logic of their sunset and frequency to utilize metrics like clicks and conversions to supplement what open data tells them.

iOS 15 Privacy Updates Effect on Email Marketing Decisions

Marketers certainly utilize open event data for more than making deliverability decisions. Modern marketers have become experts at crafting compelling marketing journeys that walk recipients through curated experiences engaging with particular messages. Losing this visibility poses a challenge to marketers.Similarly, it will also be critical to shift what metrics are considered in determining what is not a likely human interaction with email messaging. Again, looking at other metrics like clicks and conversions will be most helpful. Additionally, marketers who can craft email experiences that drive the engagements that are more quickly and accurately measured will have the easiest time adjusting to the new reality of iOS 15’s privacy updates. Relying on the email to deliver the entirety of the message and fully convert a recipient to a call to action will become harder to measure. Marketers should use the email body to quickly move the recipient to the next journey or conversion. This transition provides more accurate first or zero-party data, giving marketers more substantial insight into how their content performs with recipients. Finally, marketers will also have to deal with how these privacy changes impact the use of things like dynamic content or location data to enhance the email experience for recipients. Keeping in mind the data used to make decisions will be limited in accuracy will help marketers craft content and CTAs geared to drive measurable results.

How a CDP Can Help

Current email privacy updates mean the most important thing marketers can do is look at data points. These data points will help them understand whether their messages are reaching and converting people. Using email metrics like clicks and click rates will undoubtedly be critical. Marketers who understand how their recipients have been engaging with their messages historically will be better equipped to make sense of future changes. Examining historical open and click trends by mailbox provider or domain can provide a wealth of insight once open rates start to change due to Apple’s new features. However, when it comes to making sense of the ever-changing marketing landscape and signals across various channels, there is no substitute for using a CDP like Simon Data. CDPs bring clarity to increasingly opaque signals.While cross-channel messaging has already shown itself to be a critical component of a modern marketer’s strategy, changes like Apple’s introduced point toward the growing importance of cross-channel measurement and analysis. Email metrics and events should no longer be viewed in a vacuum. Regardless of how we communicate, measuring recipients’ engagement with your brand is the key to sanity. Checking those channel-specific signals will make more impactful decisions. Utilizing a CDP gives marketers the tools to connect the dots between seemingly disparate data points. Thus, more quickly and effectively drawing a more holistically accurate picture of marketing efficacy.Download The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Software to learn how a CDP can help make the most of your data.

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