What Apple’s New Privacy Features Mean for the Future of Email Marketing


Privacy vs. personalization. In a world where people want both, it’s a constant game of give and take. Get relevant content based on past interests. Discover things to do nearby. Auto-fill forms so you can save time and memorize less. All made possible with data—your data.

While personalized content is desired, consumer privacy concerns continue to grow. Apple is addressing these concerns, launching new privacy features this fall on iOS 15. While some features will be subscription based, the free email privacy feature already has quite a few marketers concerned. After all, studies show Apple iPhone is the leading mobile email application with 90% market share, and on desktop, over 58% of emails are opened using Apple Mail.

Here’s a breakdown of the new features and how they will affect email marketing.

Mail Privacy Protection—blocks third parties from tracking email opens and more.

This is a free option to all Apple Mail users. According to Apple, “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.”

When someone first opens the app, they will be presented with the option to “Protect Mail activity” or “Don’t protect Mail activity”. While they’re given a choice, it’s safe to assume the majority of users won’t choose “Don’t protect me”—leaving marketers unable to see open rates for a large number of Apple Mail users.

Without open data from many Apple Mail users, marketers will have to be mindful of the following:

  • Using “opened email” as a trigger for automated campaigns
  • A/B testing subject lines to determine email open rates
  • Segmenting audiences based on open rates
  • Send-time optimization data may no longer be accurate
  • Considering users unengaged based on opens
Hide My Email—gives brands a “fake” email address and hides your real one.

This feature is available through an iCloud+ subscription. It enables users to provide a random “fake” email address that will forward to their personal inbox. This keeps their personal email private even though they’ll still receive promotional emails. It’s another step towards helping consumers gain control over who can contact them.

Since this is a paid feature, it won’t see as much adoption as Mail Privacy Protection, but still will have an impact on marketers. Here are some ways your team can prepare for these new changes:

  • Identify Apple Mail users—determine how much impact these privacy features will actually have on your audience. An Apple Mail user is anyone using Apple Mail as an email client.
  • Clean up your contact list—delete unresponsive leads and segment audiences as necessary since unopened emails will no longer be a sign of disinterest or deliverability issues.
  • Test and evolve creative—figuring out what content grabs your audience’s attention is more important than ever now. Consider sending out surveys too to learn more about their interests.
  • Track current open rate data—this way you will have something to compare new open rate averages with and be able to better gauge the actual effects in coming months.
  • Leverage other data—there are still many other useful metrics including clicks, click-through rates, tracking URLs, heat mapping, unsubscribe rates and more.

Consumers’ growing demand for privacy will continually lead to new privacy features becoming available. But there’s no need for marketers to fear. While open rates can provide valuable insights, there are still many other metrics that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of your email campaigns. And evolving tactics is a key part of any great long-term strategy. After all, the goal remains the same—creating exceptional content that sparks engagement and delights customers.

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