What You Need to Know About Apple’s iOS 15 Updates & Its Potential Effect on Your Email Marketing Efforts

Data privacy continues to be top-of-mind for marketers especially for some of the largest – and arguably most influential – players in the digital space. Recently, Apple announced its iOS 15 software update that will significantly impact marketers. More specifically, it will influence how we measure email success.

Be In the Know

With the iOS 15 update, it is likely that email open rates will be inflated. The level of inflation will be determined by number of Apple Mail users in a company’s email file or customer-base. In 2020, about 50% of emails opened were from Apple products using the Mail feature.  

What to Expect

  • Open rates will be inflated.
    • With iOS 15, Apple Mail automatically downloads images. This then triggers the tracking pixels embedded to send an “opened” response back to the ESP server.
    • Even if a user does not open an email, this new feature will trigger an “opened” response the moment that images are downloaded.
  • Date and time could be inaccurate.
    • With Apple Mail, the “opened” signal is sent the moment the images are downloaded. Therefore, marketers will have no way of knowing that when the images are downloaded, the prospect or customer was viewing the email.
  • Triggers or workflows based on an “opened email” will be disrupted.
    • It is common practice for marketers to resend campaigns to consumers who did not open the email the first time a campaign is launched. With iOS 15, marketers will not know who specifically opened the email and therefore, would risk resending the email to the wrong individuals.
  • Location-based email targeting relying on IP address will no longer be reliable.
    • This new feature masks Apple users’ IP addresses, so their online activity and location will not automatically link.
    • The functionality of the “countdown” clock widget may be impacted, but we do not know for certain yet.

What This Means For You

We understand that this update is creating new hurdles for marketers. We are with you! However, it is important to look at the bright side:

  • This update will not impact all email subscribers. Right now, Google, Outlook and other email users make up more than 60% of the global share and they have not announced any updates.
  • Clicks and click-through-rates (CTR) will not be affected by this update, which are often even more accurate metrics to determine engagement.
  • This is a time to get creative. We can tie site traffic to an email campaign, enlist the help of clickmaps, and analyze unsubscribe rates.
  • A/B testing is still an option! Taking subject line testing as an example, marketers will still be able to determine an outlier even though open rates will be inflated. As a secondary option, clicks can also determine this winner. If a Call-to-action (CTA) is featured, marketers can measure success through conversion data or site activity.

As marketers, we understand not only the importance of data & analytics, but why keeping data privacy at the forefront of your omnichannel strategy is necessary. In fact, a couple of months ago, we published articles encouraging your proactivity regarding data privacy and how to be data compliant in 2021. However, no one can prepare for the updates that the industry’s largest players have made, and will continue to make. We can only accept these challenges, and design new systems and processes in accordance with them. We are steadfast in bringing you the most innovative and cutting-edge solutions, and we will continue to do so, even with the iOS 15 update in place. 

Sources include Lift Engine, Hubspot, Apple, and AdWeek.

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