December 2, 2021

By Andrew Donovan

In August, I wrote a blog titled, “Apple Mail Privacy Protection Is About To Change Email Marketing: Here’s How We’re Preparing Your Business” which began with a header image that was rather ominous. It had text overlaid on an image of a skull and crossbones that read, “Your open rates are dead.” Spooky, right?

Now after three months of monitoring of campaigns and consistent research, I have some updates on iOS 15 and Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) that I’d like to share with you.

Tl;dr (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

We have not recorded any noticeable shift in campaign open rates since the introduction of iOS 15 and MPP.

While the sample size is small (Apple released this OS in late September), so too is the number of contacts who use Apple Mail on a device that runs iOS 15.

Be that as it may, open rates are being impacted and the small sample size doesn’t detract from my original statement that open rates are a poor metric for measuring email marketing success.

With this in mind, Intrigue will continue our plan to phase out the reporting of open rates. We will replace that metric with two far more valuable metrics: Cost-per-lead and Audience Growth Rate (More on these two metrics below).

Recap: What Is Mail Privacy Protection For iOS 15?

A phone displaying Mail Privacy Protection opt-in

When Apple made iOS 15 available to the public in late September, it came with the much anticipated MPP feature to help safeguard peoples’ privacy when opening and interacting with emails. MPP would only affect Apple Mail on most Apple devices*, not on other email apps (e.g. Gmail).

Some of the ways in which MPP works is to:

  • Block the IP address of the person receiving the email
  • Mark all emails as being opened (regardless of whether or not they were opened)
    • This makes open rates and the time an email was opened inaccurate
  • Ensure the device your contact is using remains unknown

This isn’t an exhaustive list of ramifications stemming from MPP, but it highlights the importance (and slight panic) of its introduction.

*You can view a complete list of devices that can run iOS 15 by clicking here.

How Are Your Email Marketing Campaigns Impacted?

  1. Your campaign Open Rate and Click to Open Rate metrics will be inaccurate.
    1. The degree to which these numbers will be misleading will depend on how many of your contacts are using an Apple device with iOS 15 and using Apple Mail to check their emails.
  2. Because IP addresses will be obscured, contacts who opted in to MPP will have their location blocked, so your geographical breakdowns will be inaccurate.
  3. A/B tests that depend on open rates will be inaccurate.

If you’re interested, Mailchimp provides a full list of ways in which MPP can affect your campaigns.

How Intrigue Is Adapting To Mail Privacy Protection

We have not recorded any noticeable shift in campaign open rates since the introduction of iOS15 and MPP.

That revelation may prompt you to shout aloud, “What?! If that’s the case, why change anything in the way you’re reporting?”

Good question, reader.

Here’s the thing: MPP is here to stay and adoption rates will only continue to rise as people upgrade their devices. The likelihood that other email service providers (ESPs) will adopt similar privacy-focused measures are about as good as the Maple Leafs chances of winning the Stanley Cup this year are bad.

In other words, we’re getting out ahead of the curve.

Changes To Reporting

Every one of Intrigue’s clients is given a Client Success Report at month 10 of their Marketing Action Plan (MAP). In this report, we outline all relevant metrics related to your marketing initiatives for that MAP.

In the past, we’d report on your open rate. However, in light of MPP, we will be removing open rate as a metric of success on all MAPs started after September 2021.

The metrics that we’ll use to measure your email marketing success will be:

  • Click Rate
    The number of clicks your campaign gets divided by the total number of contacts who received your email.
  • Cost-Per-Lead
    The amount spent on email marketing, divided by the number of new contacts added to your audience.
  • Audience Growth Rate
    Year-over-year growth of your audience as a percentage.

As a general rule, we aim to have a click rate of about 3%, a cost-per-lead lower than the $53 average, and an Audience Growth Rate of +15% on audiences between 1,000-10,000 subscribers.

All that said, Mailchimp still shows open rate as a primary metric on all campaigns. If you’d like to see your open rates compiled in your report, we can still do that.

Changes To Campaigns

Example of a Mailchimp Journey

In the olden days, (prior to September), we would often A/B test campaigns based on the open rate. This means that when we sent an email for our clients, we’d come up with two different subject lines for said email, and send it to 20% of their audience over the course of 4-8 hours. At the end of that test, the subject line that had the highest open rate was sent to the remaining 80% of the audience. Obviously, we’re not A/B testing open rates any longer.

To replace the A/B testing on open rates, we are now A/B testing things like:

  • Click rates
    Which campaign had the highest number of clicks?
  • Send times
    What time of day experienced the most engagement?
  • Dynamic content
    Did one email perform better than another email with slightly different content?

We’ve extended this to email automations (drip campaigns) as well. We’ll no longer use an open rate as a trigger to determine what path a contact goes down.

Going Forward

Things are always changing in the world of email marketing — we don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.

Other ESPs and email apps will adopt strategies similar to MPP to protect their users’ privacy, and the number of people moving towards encrypted or protected communications will only increase as Web 3.0 and blockchain technology becomes more universal in their application.

The ever-changing digital terrain we have to navigate is yet another reason why we recommend that Intrigue run email marketing campaigns for our clients. Our email marketing experts not only increase the chances of a client’s campaigns maximizing their return on investment, but we also take the stress out of having to account for all these complex variables.

If you have questions about email marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager or send us an email through our contact page.

Andrew is a content marketer at Intrigue. A writer turned journalist turned marketer, Andrew is most fulfilled when he has the chance to share stories and ideas through words. Outside of work, you will find Andrew in the gym, hitting the heavy bag, or riding his bike to local events. If you need something from Andrew, bribe him with a cigar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *