Apple recently unveiled its iOS 15 software, which hits the market this fall. Most of the new features focus on privacy, data tracking, and user security. Two features, Mail Privacy Protection and Hide My Email, will have a dramatic impact on email marketing. I will address both in this post.
Data protection for emails
Mail Privacy Protection gives iOS 15 email users the ability to privately download remote content and not reveal their IP addresses. The result blocks the sender’s ability to track openings and redirects, and masks the recipient’s IP, which determines the physical location.
Email service providers – Mailchimp, MailUp, Constant Contact, and many more – add an invisible 1-pixel image to outbound deliveries. The image tracks whether and how often a recipient opens an email, resulting in a report of clear and gross opening rates. This is long-standing, valuable information for email marketers that reflects the impact of subject lines, pre-headers, and overall subscriber retention.
With iOS 15’s mail privacy protection, marketers are now blind to opening emails for users who opted for this protection. Other users who are on desktop and Android devices are still trackable.
Most emails will be opened on smartphones in 2021. iOS has a large share of this market. If Android introduces similar privacy options, 98% of smartphone users will have the option not to reveal their email openings.
IOS 15’s mail privacy is not enabled by default. Users have to log in. However, it is safe to say that senders can expect a decrease in reported open rates after publication. The effect goes beyond subject lines and headings. A user’s engagement over time often impacts marketers’ segmentation tactics. For example, subscribers who open relatively fewer will receive fewer messages with different creatives.
Additionally, marketers often delete inactive subscribers. Such a database cleanup is essential as it improves overall deliverability. Deployments with a high percentage of inactive recipients can end up in junk or spam folders because ISPs assume these emails are of little value. Apple’s new data protection update makes it difficult to delete inactive subscribers.
Finally, analyzing open rates by domain (@gmail, @yahoo, @hotmail) can identify ISPs that blocked email or otherwise changed deliverability. With the new iOS email privacy option, marketers lose that option.
Hide my email
Hide my Email is another new Apple feature available for iOS 15, macOS Monterey (revealed this month), and iCloud Settings. The feature allows users to sign up for email offers with a random address generated by Apple instead of the real email address. Apple then forwards the emails to the user’s main email account. Users can simply delete this new email address and prevent it from spreading on the web.
Hide My Email poses several problems for marketers. First, there is no easy way to tell whether a new email login is a legitimate account or a “burner”. This is likely to create deliverability issues as subscribers can quickly delete their emails, creating increased bounces and concerns with ISPs about changing their deliverability. (However, reputable email service providers automatically delete “hard” bounces and eliminate their effects on ISPs.)
Now, prepare for iOS 15 mail privacy. Test the open rates extensively before the market launch in the fall. Create before and after benchmarks for:
- Subject lines,
- “From” lines.
Hide My Email will likely affect deliverability. Keep an eye on these rates and make sure your ESP removes hard bounces immediately.