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How iOS 15 Will Impact Email Marketing, Tracking & Deliverability

Apple has announced new privacy features within iOS 15 that will impact your email marketing. Your ability to track email open rates, click-through rates and deliverability are about to take a hit. Nearly every business relies on email marketing, and it’s about to become a heck of a lot more difficult to track and measure

By Samir ElKamouny
ios 15 email tracking

Apple has announced new privacy features within iOS 15 that will impact your email marketing. Your ability to track email open rates, click-through rates and deliverability are about to take a hit.

Nearly every business relies on email marketing, and it’s about to become a heck of a lot more difficult to track and measure campaign effectiveness as well as ROI.

With nearly 50% of smartphone users on an iPhone, think about your own email list. What percentage of your subscribers are on iOS?

Apple’s latest update is now prompts users to choose whether they would like to opt out of tracking (by blocking their IP address).

As of September 2021, nearly 79% of mobile users have already disabled app tracking since the previous iOS update earlier this year. And now they’re being asked whether they would like to opt out of email tracking.

How iOS 15 Will Change Email Marketing Forever

The impact is going to be huge. The more your customers use iOS, the more difficult it’s going to be to track and measure the performance of your email marketing. You will no longer be able to see who opens or clicks your emails (without the correct tools).

To provide an example, when you open Klaviyo or Mailchimp you won’t be able to trust the data you see. Many emails will look like they were opened and viewed when in reality neither of these events took place.

The 3 Major iOS 15 Features That Will Impact Your Email Marketing

  1. Mail Privacy Protection: Users can opt into email privacy features that mask their IP address and block websites from seeing the websites they visit within Safari. Email marketers can no longer track what emails are opened or clicked on by individuals visiting their site.
  2. Hide My Email: This is part of the iCloud+ premium subscription and allows users to generate a random email address when signing up for a new account, opting into a newsletter, or just sending an email so that their personal email remains private. It also means marketers won’t have access to their actual email anymore unless the user allows it.
  3. iCloud+: iCloud+ is the new paid subscription feature in Safari that will no longer allow companies to track and see which websites users are frequenting. This could be harmful to email marketers because they can no longer understand what content someone is reading without utilizing new metrics.

iOS 15 users can now turn off their open pixel tracking, which no longer permits email marketers to view information such as Tracked Conversions, Open Rates, Click Rates, Discover Traffic Sources, and other helpful information.

Apple now offers a way for users to hide their email address, which in turn requires marketers to adapt and use new techniques to get their message through to customers.

Recommendations for marketers:

  • Gather first-hand data whenever possible to gain data metrics. This includes asking for personal information in exchange for rewards, welcome emails, onboarding demonstrations, and tracking behavior on your website.
  • Use current data like subscription lists to categorize current users based on past metrics like sales and brand engagement to tap into your audience using iOS15.
  • Collect new data with metrics like survey data, clickthrough rates, signups for events, interactions, shares on social media, and subscriber lifetime value.

iOS 15 will change the way we track, measure, and benchmark email campaign performance.

It’s important that we reassess our data and implement new KPIs that account for these changes in order to ensure alignment with business objectives and attainment of our goals.

How To Navigate Email Tracking & Deliverability With iOS 15

Apple encourages marketers to focus on building customer relationships rather than just tracking clicks in this latest update. The new privacy settings will affect all iOS 15 users, so it’s essential to know how your email marketing was tracked before the update and continue tracking your email effectiveness.

If you’re a marketer that tracks your KPIs through traditional methods, it may become harder to access this data with iOS 15. For example, this won’t be a problem if you use email list growth as a KPI. But if you’re using more traditional metrics like open rates or e-commerce conversions–both of which are affected by this update–it might get more complicated, and switching to other metrics may be more effective.

Since Apple’s updates are expected to continue rolling out to users this year, continued awareness and adoption are vital as the feature becomes widely adopted by users. Even though Apple continues to update its software, marketers can’t just sit back and collect data about what worked in the past with already released software. Marketers should start planning their email marketing strategies by considering how Apple’s updates could impact open rates and other traditional metrics. iOS 15 has presented new opportunities for marketers. Still, in the age of iOS 15, marketers will need to adjust their open-rate goals or lower them all together and use tools like:

Email Unsubscribe Rate: This metric measures the success of your campaign in another way. It measures how many people clicked to opt-out of future emails from you after they opened an email. If someone opens your email but clicks on the “unsubscribe” button, that counts as an engagement. If someone opens your email but then decides not to take any action, that counts as a dis-engagement. Use this information when making future emails to improve the content and get your content in front of the right people.

Website Traffic: This is beneficial for email marketing because it correlates to the open rate of emails in some instances. Also, more website traffic means that your brand is more noticeable and familiar to users, leading to an increase in clicks on your email’s links. Whenever someone visits your website, use that information to measure where they came from and what brought them there, be it a link in an email or a QR code from a billboard.

Click Maps: A visual representation of how people scroll through your email. When someone scrolls through your email, you will see all the places they click with a dot on the map. Click maps can help you understand what is attracting people’s attention and where their focus lies. From this information, you can make changes to optimize your email content for better engagement.

Click-Through Rates: This web marketing metric measures the number of clicks on a link as a proportion of how many times the link was displayed. Marketers can use click-through rates to decide which links are worth showcasing, what promotions should be run, and which ads are successful. While it may take more legwork than email opens, metrics like these can improve the personalization and effectiveness of your emails during iOS 15.

Simple Email Design: These email clients are not very sophisticated; they do not render images or other media well, leading to varying success levels in the subject line leading to opens. Keep the design of your emails simple and focus on the effective delivery of messages that engage with your audience and drive them towards taking action[2].

Identify Trends: To successfully make changes during iOS 15, email marketers will want to establish trends between existing open reporting and new data they have received. Marketers must continually identify and modify their modes of action and engagement with customers depending on their click rates.

Making Changes during iOS 15

It’s imperative that we understand how these changes will impact email attribution. When performance data becomes questionable, or altogether inaccurate, we need to alter the way in which we measure and interpret our data.

When facing highly inflated open rates, maybe start paying closer attention to subscriber inactivity or fluctuations in your unsubscribe rate to determine the effectiveness of your content.

At the end of the day, we need to become proactive and pay closer attention to performance data as a result of iOS 15.

Historically, Email Service Providers (ESPs) created a unique identifier for each user and appended it to each link within an email. Marketers could track users when they clicked links from within an email. Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) stops third-party trackers from collecting browsing history, which is what prevents us from being able to accurately track performance data from within our campaigns.

Marketers now have to track user movements through landing pages, instead of through Email Service Providers. And on a positive note, this method of conversion tracking has even been effective for more traditional methods such as billboards, television or radio. These traditional methods of advertising can now provide a website, or a QR code to visit a website as a way to drive action. All you have to do is make a landing page that uses a unique URL to identify where your traffic comes from.

Let’s say you create an email campaign promoting a PR campaign. If you want to see how many people clicked your email, all you need to do is measure how many people visited your unique landing page URL. It’s a tactic that is commonly used on podcasts and within radio ads.

Apple’s latest update has already been released. Adoption is increasing, and thus now more than ever, marketers need to be able to adapt and roll with the punches.

Fetch & Funnel has a team of experts at your disposal.

Let us know if you need some help navigating these changes!

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