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How Marketers Can Prepare for Apple's Mail Privacy Protection

Apple’s recent news regarding Mail Privacy Protection has understandably created a lot of buzz in the digital marketing world, most of which is in the form of questions: will this cause a drop in open rates? How will this impact my overall email marketing strategy? Is email dead? 

We can say without a doubt that no, email isn’t dead. And while there are still a number of uncertainties around MPP, the good news is that thoughtful preparation can prevent any unwelcome surprises when this does eventually roll out. 

Here’s what we know so far:

What is Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

Currently Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) is in beta with iOS15. The public beta will be available in July and the official version will be released this fall.  MPP stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps subscribers 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.

How does Mail Privacy Protection work?

Mail Privacy Protection only affects any email opened from the Apple Mail app regardless which email service is used. It does not affect other email apps used on Apple devices, such as the Gmail app on an iPhone.  

When someone first opens the Apple Mail app, they’ll receive a message prompting them to either “Protect Mail activity” or “Don’t protect Mail activity.”  Simple as that. 

Keep in mind Litmus’ annual email client market share data shows Apple iPhone, Apple Mail, and Apple iPad with over 46% of combined email opens in 2020. If your audience makeup is also skewed toward Apple Mail users, your open rate may look much different come this Fall.

The impact of Mail Privacy Protection on marketers

If the user selects MPP, this means marketers may not be able to tell who opened their emails and when via Apple Mail.  With so many tactics focused on opens, such as send time optimization, re-engagement campaigns, subject line testing, audience/segmentation based on last open and other content powered by open (such as local weather), it is critical for marketers to start preparing now for iOS 15.

How to prepare for Mail Privacy Protection

  1. Determine potential impact. You may find only a small segment uses Apple Mail to read your emails, which totally changes things!
  2. Establish your new baseline metrics so you can track true performance when open rates are no longer in the picture. Focus your metrics on clicks (click thru rate). Also make sure to pay attention to the percentage of clicks your unsubscribe link is receiving in comparison to your other links. 
  3. Rethink what an engaged subscriber segment looks like.  This means combining other engaged signals such as recency of sign up, purchase, on-site behavior in addition to email clicks.  This would be in addition to last time you emailed the subscriber.
  4. Check your deliverability and clean house. Yes, that means leads AND customers. Now’s the time to run a re-engagement campaign to identify which subscribers are no longer engaging with your emails so you can move forward in the new world with a truly engaged (clicks!) audience.  And your sender reputation will also get a boost from improved list hygiene.
  5. Update your testing calendar.  If you don’t already know, test to see what kind of creative drives the best engagement so you can carry your learnings forward and send emails that drive clicks and conversion.
  6. Beef up your SMS strategy or develop one if you currently don’t have one.  When you think about it, the only engagement metrics for SMS are clicks and replies yet SMS sees great ROI.  A SMS subscriber is even more engaged than an email subscriber as they have expressly opted in to receiving your content from a more interruptive channel.  How can you leverage that?

There is still a lot to learn about how Apple will implement MPP.  Until then, start preparing for Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection. And if you’re uncertain where to start, your Lev Marketing Consultant is more than happy to work directly with you to develop the right strategy for your business.