Apple iOS 15 and Your Open Data

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We’ve all heard the frenzy swirling around in the email marketing world after Apple announced that their new software update, iOS 15, would include a bunch of new privacy features for Apple Mail users. 

Marketers are talking about it and how these changes can impact email strategy going forward. 

This is the first in a series of posts covering the three areas of impact the iOS 15 will have on email marketing. The first is open data! 

What you need to know

First, let’s go over exactly what we know about iOS 15

Starting this fall, Apple Mail will begin to pre-open all emails for Apple Mail users who have opted into their new privacy features. Apple will mask details about the open, including location, time, and even if the recipient opened the email at all. 

“Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. [It prevents] senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location,” Apple said in their announcement

Unfortunately, these changes mean your tracking pixels are effectively useless for these subscribers. 

Your open rate just got a whole lot more unreliable

If you’ve been paying attention to these changes, you know it means your open rate is going to be wildly inaccurate. But that’s okay; it wasn’t that great to begin with, and here’s why. 

Open rates don’t tell marketers a whole lot. First, open rates have a finite purpose — testing subject lines and surface temperature checks of overall email and brand engagement. Beyond that, open rates don’t tell us that much, especially compared to other KPIs.

Instead of focusing on open rates, you will need to start measuring your campaign success on other factors: clicks, revenue, and increased lifetime value. And, let’s be honest, these things matter way more than opens even when we have that open rate. 

Open event triggers won’t work

Another area of impact to pay attention to is open event-based triggers. Obviously, without open data, this changes how if and how your trigger works. As a result, triggers could either not work at all or could end up being inaccurate.

To help avoid this, you need to trigger your emails on more important metrics like clicks, goals, or margin. 

Additionally, without knowing when or where a reader opens an email, you lose the ability to predict the best time to send an email to a recipient based on past opens or IP location. Send time optimization could be impacted by this too.

Not having open data isn’t the end of the world

Many of us have felt, for a long time, that open rate data was not the best way to measure success. Now Apple is pushing us to face this new reality. 

We as marketers need to take the focus we put into open rates as an important KPI and shift it to content that drives clicks and purchases. These are the true measures of campaign success. 

So although there are changes ahead, this is an opportunity to become better marketers! 

Personalized content will drive success

Personalizing email content is more critical than ever. It’s the best way to give your emails the chance to engage with your audience and earn a click or purchase from those that open it. 

Zembula smart block with various data sources

Since you won’t know much about the context of an open for these folks anymore, you need to give every email the most relevant information in the moment. That means finding ways to include deep personalization — beyond just segmenting.

Pool of Zembula Smart Banners with one pulled into an email personalized for the user

Going beyond segmentation

In so many cases, data is primarily used for email segmentation and not much else. We think that is a missed opportunity. 

Data should be used for segmenting AND enriching your content, giving your readers more personalization and a better experience.

For example, you can segment a list to receive certain content, then personalize that content type specifically to each user using the data you already have. This type of personalization will work for all users, Apple or not. 

Zembula can help you use your data to personalize your email content beyond just segmentation. I’d love to chat with you about your strategy and how to deal with the Apple iOS 15 updates. Email me at cheyenne.ng@zembula.com

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