Our iOS 15 Email Marketing Survival Guide
With all the noise about how iOS 14.5 is impacting paid ads, it has been kept fairly low key the fact that Apple announced an iOS 15 update that will change email marketing. It is coming this Autumn, but could be as early as September!
The iOS 15 update announcement and the articles basically comes down to this – Apple iOS 15 will mess with the open rate and IP data for a large, unknown portion of your email list.
As it reads, Apple is going to ‘pre-open’ the emails your send for anyone using Apple Mail. This means that your open rates will go up, but the recipient who “opened” the email may not have opened it at all. Bottom line, you will not know your real open rate. Your analytics may show a much higher percentage rates of email opens than actually happened! This will completely screw with a lot of your email marketing strategies.
It will make A/B testing subject lines and resending to un-opens so much more more difficult (if not impossible).
Email marketers must prepare for these changes now. The 4 most important parts of your email strategy must be evaluated at now. These are:
- Make sure that your core email sequences are absolutely solid. Make sure they sound friendly, make sure they resonate with your audience, and make sure you offered a fantastic lead magnet that will make your reader want to open your email. You need Apple to see you as a friend of your audience and not a business.
- Look at your audience segments. Make changes if you are not happy – especially if you want to use open rates or IP data as a way to segment.
- Use enticing subject lines. Make your readers desperate to open them. A/B split test if you have to. You need your open rates as high as you can get them.
- Audit your list and delete any inactive subscribers. Keep your genuine open rates as high as possible so that you are not classed as spam. Look at the last open date of your subscribers – if they aren’t opening your emails then let them go.
Just to reiterate, Apple is basically pre-opening all emails that go through Apple Mail. This a lot of emails!
A good step to take in preparation for the iOS 15 update is to work out how many of your subscribers use Apple Mail.
There are a couple of ways to do this, and depends on the tech you use.
Option 1 – Existing Reports
This is a good one to try first. Type your autoresponder name + “email client” – into Google, for example, Mailchimp + “email client”.
Look for a report containing the ‘Email Clients’ or ‘Devices’ that your emails get opened on.
Examples of this are
For ActiveCampaign, look at your Email Client Trend Report.
For MailChimp, break down what percentage of your readers use Apple Mail.
For SendGrid, look in your email reports under “Email Clients and Devices.”
Look specifically for Apple Mail and Apple iPhone clients/devices in your list(s). As there are a raft of autoresponders we all use, if you are struggling to find a report, then reach out to their customer services.
Option 2 – No Report Available
If your autoresponder doesn’t share that info, such as ConvertKit, try running a poll to your audience! You can do this through your social media profiles, or through your email list. Explain the problems that are coming and beg for a reply!
What To Do When You Find Your Results
If you find out the percentage of your list that uses Apple Mail, then you can start to look at how many of these readers currently open your mail. You can put the guess work into knowing how many of your future emails will be opened.
You can segment your audience by “email client” and place the Apple Mail readers into this group. This will help you to see the open rate of this group, and the open rate of the rest of your readers. You can make comparsions to the open rate percentage.
When we know the true rate of our reads, we can adjust our mail to what our readers seem to like reading. Having false open rates will throw a lot of us off course. Keep an eye on your analytics and social media engagement to see what is popular.
Think of any other measuring strategies now that will be useful for you. Cleaning your list now while open rates are still reliable is a good way to go. You know that the majority of your list are ‘openers’. Remember that new list subscribers may not be so accurate.
What is this iOS 15 Email Marketing Update?
The iOS 15 update is going to have a huge impact on digital marketers, funnel builders, and online business owners.
We will cover what the update is, the implications it may have, and how you can quickly adapt to the changes.
We will address
- The Apple’s iOS 15 Update
- What iOS 15 Means for Email Marketing
- Preparing For The Update Now
- Transitioning To a More Private World
- How We Can All Transition Together
Apple iOS 15 Update
Apple recently announced yet another update. The iOS 15 update. We do not have an official release date, however there are whispers that it could be in September 2021.
It is a big update. It includes features way beyond email, from helping you escape from phone distractions, up to new Apple Maps experiences.
You can read the full update here, but we have already read it and are highlighting the 2 most important features affecting email marketing (and therefore many businesses).
Mail Privacy Protection
This is to prevent senders from knowing when someone has their email. It also hides their IP address.
This is great for individuals who are being constantly spammed, however for us businesses who rely on our credible and ethically built email lists, it will play havoc with our analytics! We will see that emails have been opened when they haven’t, and it will block the subscribers location.
‘Hide My Email’ Feature
Less important than the Mail Privacy Protection (but is still worth knowing about) is that readers can now protect their personal email address. They can request Apple to generate a random email address on their behalf. Apple will generate a fake email address, and redirect any emails sent to that burner address to their true inbox. This means that email opt-ins can generate a burner email to request your lead magnet. There is no limit on the amount of fake email addresses that a reader can generate.
Whilst burner emails have been around for a good while, this just makes it much easier. However, ‘Hide My Email’ is an iCloud+ specific feature. No iCloud+ then no Hide My Email feature.
How Will Your List Will Be Affected?
As soon as the update is run on an iPhone, users will get the option of opting in or out of giving their email address whenever they open the Mail app. Most people will probably opt in.
Whilst a high number of Apple users are likely to opt in, it will not affect your entire mailing list as it only applied to Apple Mail app users.
If your readers are using the Gmail app, then this update won’t apply to them (even if they are an iPhone user). However, if they read their Gmail through the Apple Mail app, this update will apply — regardless of email service.
Apple has a huge sector of the email market. The top 3 devices people currently use to read email in 2021 are Apple iPhone (47.1%), Gmail (18.6%), and Apple Mail (13.0%). If you add the other Apple devices into the mix, there is a combined total of 61.7% for Apple Products.
You could have a large portion of your email list being Apple users, or a small portion. Either way, your open rates are going to be affected and unreliable.
People currently want to control their privacy. This includes what element of the personal information is collected. Apple wants to be a “privacy leader” – this isn’t the first privacy update that’s changed the way we do email, and it will not be the last.
What Does iOS 15 Mean for Digital Marketing?
After iOS 15, we will lose our reliable open rate and IP data for a considerable amount of our email list. We cannot ignore this and just hope it goes away! Mail Privacy Protection can have a exponential impact on email marketing strategies.
What Will Happen to Email Open Rates?
When someone opts-in for Mail Privacy Protection, this will happen:
- Once you have sent your email, it will travel through Apple’s proxy server and not your subscriber’s inbox.
- This server will pre-load the message content before sending it on to your reader, including the tracking pixel we use from our autoresponders that tells us if someone opened our email.
- This will make it look like almost 100% of our emails (that are sent to Apple Mail users) have been opened, when actually they may not have been.
Can you see how this will cause problems? Data for open rates may become defunct as it will be useless to us. This will affect how well we feel our marketing strategies are.
Do Email Strategies Rely on Open Rates?
There are many email strategies that rely on open rate data, especially when it comes to engagement metrics.
If you have a campaign that is 99% opened, yet there is no engagement from your readers, you may feel that this strategy should be binned. However, in reality it may just not have been read! There is a huge difference in the business decisions made between ‘unopened emails’ and ‘opened yet no engagement’.
Moving Forward With Email Campaigns
Starting with the subject line, open rates usually boil down to how compelling the subject line is. This is what we use to make the reader open the email. Keep it from looking ‘too salesy’.
Deliverability Tracking, List Segmentation, Automated Campaigns, & A/B Testing
Under the iOS 15 update, the following metrics will be unreliable:
- Deliverability tracking (did your email actually land in your subscriber’s inbox?)
- Sorting your list based on opens vs. un-opens
- Reusing the same campaign to un-opens
- Deciding on the best time to send emails
- Setting campaign triggers based on open rate
- A/B subject line split testing will be inaccurate as they will appear to have been opened.
Businesses should inspect their open rates now, and decide on which metrics other then open rates to use.
Usually, when we notice that a subscriber isn’t opening our emails, we will engage with them to ask them why – we will usually ask for them to respond as to whether or not they would like to be removed or remain on the list.
We will no longer be possible after the iOS 15 update, as it will appear that our emails are being opened. Losing our email-open data will make it extremely difficult for us to know who wants our emails and who doesn’t!
Building a Relationship Strategy
Open rates help our email strategy as we can see if we are providing valuable content or not. We can see if we need to deliver more relevant content to them than we are doing. This all helps us to tend to our customers needs and wants.
Open rates help us to know our subscribers, maintaining a business relationship, and deliver value. Open rates are not just a vanity metric, they are the lifeline of many email marketing strategies.
Is iOS 15 Update Killing Email Marketing?
The affect it will have on your business depends how many of your subscribers are Apple users.
For a list with a majority of Apple users, it will mess up data massively!
In hindsight, this update should prompt us to focus on other metrics in our marketing.
There are many useful metrics that will be unaffected by this update. Metrics such as conversions, click-through rate, and clicks are more important metrics than open rate to start with. Use your clicks data to measure engagement and subscriber value.
Open rates are helpful, but they aren’t the full package! There are so many other reporting stats that will help you to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Whilst the initial impact of this update is certainly annoying to businesses, you can pivot to the other data sources.
4 Things You To Do To Prepare
Here’s how you can prepare for the update…
1) Figure Out The Perceived Impact
Try to figure out what portion of your subscribers use Apple Mail.
There are different ways to do this, and it all boils down to your autoresponder. Look for a report that contains what ‘Email Clients’ or ‘Devices your emails get opened on.
- For ActiveCampaign, look at your Email Client Trend Report.
- For MailChimp, break down what percentage of your list uses Apple Mail.
- For SendGrid, find it in your email reports under “Email Clients and Devices.”
If you use a different autoresponder and are having trouble locating a report, reach out to their customer support help desk.
If you are unable to locate a report containing this information, run a simple poll in your social media platforms or next newsletter. You will not get all of your subscribers to respond, but some will and you can start to see how many readers this update will affect.
Once you have an idea of who is using Apple Mail, set them on a new tag of Apple users – you will know that these are not the real opens when they appear in your metrics. If you segment these users now and look back at monthly historical data, you will see a pattern there of how what percentage was opened. You will learn that maybe an average of 67% for this audience opened your emails. When this shoots up to 99%, you will know it is a third higher of what it really is.
2) Set Your Metric Benchmarks
By looking at your historical data now, you will figure out your actual baseline figures now.
Gather information on where you are right now, so that you can see the leap when the update hits. You can gather monthly data for the last nine months, and gather your averages. When you analyse your metrics in the future, you will know what your ‘normal’ was and how inflated it now is.
Start to lean on new metrics to measure email performance, such as engagement and conversions. You must be less reliant on your open rates now. Even analyse your unsubscribed rates – these will give you more information than your open rates. 3) Improve Your Email Copy Now
Make sure that your email copy is up to date, informative, engaging, and maybe containing a bit of humour! Nothing to offend, just enough to raise a smile!
Vital components of your email strategy should be:
- Make Your Core Email Sequences Engaging: Ensure they resonate with your audience, and leave your readers waiting for the next email.
- Evaluate Your Audience Segments: Evaluate your audience segments and tweak now! Get the data of open rates so you can see how it changes.
- Write Compelling Subject Lines: Make your subject lines appeal to your audience so that they just have to click on them! Make sure your subject lines do not sound like a sales pitch.
- Audit Your List: Delete the inactive subscribers now to make sure you have a good quality list now. Inactivity can be seen by your current open rates. Get rid of any subscribers that do not open your emails.
4) Communicate with Your Subscribers
Now more than ever, you need to build relationships with your subscribers. All relationships are built on trust, consistency, and clear communication. You do not need to tell your readers that you are worrying about the update, but you could let them know that you are clear about your privacy practices and how you use email tracking, and you respect the privacy choices your subscribers make. You can also boost engagement by finding new ways to get feedback, such as surveys, polls, or directing them to your social media, blog posts, Youtube channel etc.
Embrace The Change!
You could see the new update as a problem for your business or as an opportunity to refine your analytical practices.
Apple’s iOS 15 is going to change the way we do email, even though it is limited to Apple Mail users only. It will alter how we set our demographics with the blocking of IP addresses, so we just have to sink or swim.
Disregarding open rates, decide what your new normal will look like. Aim to refine and tighten up your current email sequences, and switch to a system that is un-reliant on email open rates. The best advice we can give is for you to sit back, grab a drink of your choice, and have a look at your new reporting systems. Look at/record your past data and metrics, find out who your Apple Mail users are, and segment these so that you know to disregard the open rates. Business is all about change. Now is your time to refine your metrics and uncover the new ways to monitor your email marketing!