Apple Mail App Privateness Safety: What E mail Senders Have to Know

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At the Apple’s WWDC conference on June 7, 2021, Apple announced Data protection for emails. The Mail Privacy Update is part of a larger initiative by Apple to help users take control of their data. However, it does have a number of effects on email senders. To better understand how Apple’s email privacy policy could affect your email program, we asked our email deliverability experts to answer our most pressing questions.

What is Apple’s email privacy notice?

Data protection for emails is a new tab in Settings that allows users to decide what data is shared when using the Mail app. Users can now hide their IP address and location information from email senders, which in turn blocks open tracking.

How does Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection affect email senders?

By blocking open tracking, Mail Privacy Protection prevents email senders from fully understanding how recipients interact with their company’s emails. While senders can continue to view click tracking, it becomes more difficult to spot non-engaged contacts or to evaluate the success of an email campaign without open tracking data.

When will Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection be live?

iOS 15 should be in. start September 2021.

What% of the Twilio SendGrid volume is opened with the Apple Mail app?

Twilio SendGrid data shows 7.7% of all openings are in the Apple Mail application, while Litmus shows 12%. That percentage fluctuated even more in our conversations with other email service providers – some believe their Apple Mail volume is up to 30%.

User agent data is very difficult to keep track of which is probably why we are seeing so much data. Also, every company will have a slightly different percentage of recipients using Apple Mail. It’s important to keep an eye on open rates and see how they change in September to better understand how many Apple Mail users you have on your contact list.

Does this only affect emails opened in the Apple Mail app?

Yes. This only affects the engagement data of recipients who have set up their email accounts in the Apple Mail app and activate data protection. For example, if an Apple Mail user sets up their Gmail, Yahoo, or private domain inbox in Apple Mail and enables Mail Privacy, openings for that recipient will not be tracked when they open messages in the Apple Mail app.

How does engagement-based Sunsetting work for Apple Mail users?

We believe the best solution is to use click tracking instead of open tracking. Click events are less common than open events, so it is obvious that using click tracking alone will result in more subscribers being removed from your list for lack of interaction than using open tracking. Depending on your situation, there may be other ways to combine a recipient’s actions with email engagement. From Twilio SendGrid’s point of view, open and click tracking are the only positive signals available to us.

For more information on Sunsetting, see the following blog posts: Building your business case for an email sunset policy and How to Create and Execute an Email Sunsetting Strategy.

What happens if other mailbox providers or operating systems do the same?

Senders and email service providers like Twilio SendGrid need to adapt their approach to engagement tracking. Using opens to track interactions with your email channel has been the industry standard for decades.

When senders lose a significant amount of engagement data, we have to come up with new ideas and find new ways to find out which recipients actually want our digital communications. For example we could:

  • Ignore open data and rely solely on click data.
  • Remove yourself completely from direct engagement data.
  • Ignore openings and clicks and replace this data with regular reconfirmation campaigns.
  • Use alternate channels (SMS, announcements, Video, voice, In-app, etc.) to confirm your wish to continue to receive email notifications.

How is Apple limiting my ability to collect open tracking data?

This has not been confirmed yet, but we believe they will implement technology that loads all of the images when the email is received. This could mean that any email sent to a recipient using Apple Mail appears to be open. Initial tests have proven inconsistent. Some messages show that all images are being retrieved from an anonymous proxy server, other tests show only a few images retrieved, and some tests show normal behavior.

Is there any way to tell if a recipient has this feature enabled?

No, not with great accuracy. Initial tests show us that these openings also come from very generic user agents and generic IP addresses. You may be able to roughly estimate who is using Apple Mail’s privacy feature, but it will only be an approximation.

An evolving industry

As the email industry evolves, Twilio SendGrid will provide best practices and suggestions to adapt to changes in data protection or regulations. We’ll update this article as more answers become available and await more articles on how businesses can prepare for this change.

In the meantime, if you need help with email privacy practices, delivery issues, or your brand’s general email performance, please contact us Team of email experts.

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