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Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is dropping soon. Here are the four things marketers really need to do.

Each September, Apple holds one of its now-iconic events to announce new products and iOS feature updates. I’m a big fan and I never miss it. This year, though, “the event” will include news marketers have no doubt been dreading: the implementation of Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection feature as part of the iOS 15 update.

There’s probably less to worry about than you think. More on that later. But first, some background.

The Mail Privacy Protection feature (MPP) was announced in June and, similar to the IDFA update last year, it’s designed to give people more privacy on their Apple devices. Embedded in the Apple Mail app, this opt-in feature bars invisible third-party pixels from collecting and transmitting information about the user. That means senders won’t be able to see when someone opens an email with the Apple Mail app, or where they happen to be when they open it.

Given that Apple products accounted for almost 50% of email opens in 2020, this is a big deal for email marketers who rely on open rates as a key performance metric. But it’s not something we can’t all overcome. 

What does this mean for email marketers? 

While MPP clearly impacts open rates as a metric, there are also a number of downstream effects that marketers will need to account for. To start, you’ll have to think about subject lines differently. Without open rates, A/B testing subject lines will be pointless as there’ll be no clear way to understand which subject line is performing better. You’ll also lose access to location information if you’re using it to personalize your communications.

This is all handy data, to be sure. But for my money, it’s more “nice-to-have” than “mission-critical.” Let’s dig into that.

Four things marketers should do moving forward 

This shift toward giving people more power over the email they receive isn’t new. Last year, we wrote about how hey.com was revolutionizing email by letting people choose who they wanted to receive emails from – and who they absolutely wanted to ignore – and block senders from using embedded open rate trackers. 

As we embrace MPP, and the other privacy features that are bound to follow, there are a number of things we as marketers can do to continue engaging our target audiences with great emails and measure their true effectiveness.

1. Embrace the metric that really matters

Let’s be honest: open rate is largely a vanity metric. It doesn’t really showcase the value of your messaging or the product that messaging is promoting. Given that people are constantly adopting different privacy solutions, comparing one email’s open rate to another really doesn’t tell us much. And it’s going to tell us less as time goes on.

Even worse, open rates can be a “fallback metric” we rely on as a sort of moral victory when the click-through rate isn’t strong. And let’s be honest, the click or conversion is what we’re all really going for.

So let’s get back to focusing on the click by understanding what prompts your audience to engage with your content. Are they clicking through on thought-provoking or controversial headlines? Do people click on your content when you incorporate eye-catching visuals? Strong calls-to-action? Great offers? 

Having visibility into what improves click-through rates will be key to refining your email marketing strategy moving forward, and measuring its success.

2. Keep relying on proven best practices

As you face this new challenge, your instinct might be to find a workaround like an external CSS pixel. If we’re aware of these sorts of things, we can certainly expect that Apple is too, and they’re going to snuff out workarounds more quickly than we can leverage them.

The alternative? Focus on defining your email best practices now. These are the things that will keep your audience engaged and drive clicks, even if you can’t see all the opens.

You already know the key elements of a successful email campaign: 

  • Send your emails from a real person
  • Keep your subject lines short and snappy
  • Use preview text that builds on the subject line
  • Be human with your language
  • Write content that’s funny, valuable, or provocative, depending on what makes sense for your brand 

At the end of the day, as privacy measures continue to increase, marketers will have to keep doing all the things they’re already doing, only better. This list is a great way to start.

3. Focus on creativity

Now that your performance metrics will rely more on click-throughs and engagement within the email itself, maximizing creativity in your emails is a must. Creativity is the X-factor that lets you differentiate yourself, stand out, and drive people to click what you want them to click. It’s that perfect blend of art and science that captures the reader’s attention and encourages them to trust and appreciate your brand. 

Designing bold, stunning emails goes a long way towards attracting your audience and helping them remember your company as they explore their options. That’s why we built the Knak platform to unleash the creativity of enterprise marketing teams. So they can build campaigns that get the job done, whether you can use a tracking pixel or not.

4. Be proactive

You have all the resources and best practices you need to make the most of this change, so don’t wait until it’s too late. People will be installing iOS 15 quickly, and almost all of them will opt into Mail Privacy Protection. As the update goes live, get your team up to speed and work together to reprioritize your performance metrics and where you spend your time on email campaigns. 

Also, remember that the information you already have is incredibly valuable. Take a look at your current and historical data and use it to inform any future campaigns. If you know open rates by email client, and open rates really matter to you, do some advanced modelling. Just because we’re losing insight into one or two data points doesn’t mean the lights are being fully shut off. 

At Knak, we’re excited to partner with email marketers as they continue to embrace this change and do more to send high-impact, high-converting emails to their prospects and customers. 

We, marketers, are a resilient bunch. Together, I’m certain we’ll rise to the challenge.

To learn more about how you can build great emails with Knak, book a demo today.

Chris has been a marketer, creative director and copywriter since 1997, roaming the halls of global agencies and boutique shops alike. He's worked in every sector and channel imaginable and thrives on driving creativity across the entire marketing spectrum. He's passionate about empowering organizations to take control of their own creative destinies and is proud to help Knak fuel the post-agency revolution.

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