In June 2021, Apple announced a new Mail Privacy Protection feature for its default email app that will have significant impacts on how campaigns measure their email performance. Campaigners need to know what’s happening and how it might affect their digital program.
This feature will be a part of the iOS 15 release expected in September 2021.
Mail Privacy Protection will “pre-fetch” all images in an email, including the invisible pixels email marketing platforms use to measure an open. This means that any subscriber who uses Apple Mail to read their email – whether it’s Gmail, Yahoo, or something else – will automatically show as “opening” an email.
That means the open rate for these users is a worthless metric. Worse still, there’s no reliable way (yet) to distinguish which subscribers are using Apple Mail.
Prepare to see an “increase” in the open rates for your emails. Some experts estimate this could artificially boost open rates to 40-60 percent.
Why It Matters
Email marketing is the most critical channel for online fundraising in campaigns. Open rates and click through rates have traditionally been the most important metrics marketers have for judging email performance.
Without these metrics, digital marketers are “flying blind” when it comes to the process between sending an email and a supporter making a donation. Open and click through rates give us an indication about whether certain copy is or isn’t working.
What You Can Do
Without reliable open rates and click through rates, it’s now more critical than ever that each email you send has a single objective. If you’re fundraising, it’s a donation ask and that’s it.
Additionally, instead of optimizing for open rates, focus on engagement and conversion, since you’ll have reliable metrics.
Lastly, instead of relying on open rate data to gain insights about what supporters want to see, turn to other mechanisms like subscriber surveys and social media comments.
Apple’s email changes are coming soon. Campaigners should not be surprised when they see a spike in open rates. The most important metric should remain conversion rates.