Apple Mail Protection Update: How It Affects Email Newsletter Creators

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It’s not the Inbox Apocolypse but it will definitely change the game.

Find out how you can be best prepared.

 

What’s the big news?

  • Apple ios release today: Lots of changes, but one big one has had everyone rattled in the email space: Mail Privacy Protection (and the Hide my Email service).
  • Email is constantly changing, this won’t sink you, and it’ll just push the industry to track better metrics over the long term.
  • Apple announced back in June 2021 they’d implement Mail Privacy Protection with the mail app on ios15, ipados15, and macOS Monterey Devices.
  • In short, it stops tracking pixels that typically are used to identify IP addresses and other linked activity or determine their location.

How does it work?

  • Users are asked if they want “Protect Mail Activity” or “Don’t protect Mail activity” so not turned on by default.
  • Most users will opt-in and select protection (~95% estimated from prior examples)
  • Apple will route your emails through a proxy server to pre-load content (including tracking pixels) with a few exceptions. This would affect users using a service like Gmail or a work email through Apple Mail. This wouldn’t affect users who have email apps on their apple device like Gmail app or Outlook app. It’s worth noting that DuckDuckGo also implemented a similar Mail Privacy policy on their mail client, though usage is much lower than Apple Mail.

What does that mean?

  • You won’t know which Apple Mail recipients opened your emails, time, location, or device used. You WILL still however be able to track link clicks. 
  • According to Litmus’ email client market share data, over 49% of email opens were from Apple Mail client. This might change depending only on your audience but it’s not an insignificant amount. 
  • Litmus has a clever little calculator you can use to try to estimate your open rates given these changes. This seems like a decent temporary band-aid as the industry focuses on new vital metrics to measure list health.
  • Opens will linger for a bit as a critical metric as this all takes shape, but others will quickly become more prominent, like clicks and conversion. How can you demonstrate your audience engagement to potential marketers? How can you use new engagement practices to measure the affinity for your newsletter with your readers?
  • These strategies and tactics need re-evaluation:
    • Re-engagement campaigns? “Didn’t open, resend.”
    • Automated nurture flows
    • Send Time Optimizations
    • Monitoring and reporting of deliverability
    • Any automated localized content like weather reports could be affected
    • A/B Testing subject lines dependent on opens

What is the ‘Hide My Email” feature?

  • For a fee ($2.99 /month), iCloud account users can select what email gets shared when giving out their email. For example, users can sign up with a spoof email (spoofemail@icloud.com), but those will get forwarded to their actual email address (myemail@icloud.com). Users can then turn off that spoofed email at any time resulting in hard bounces for your newsletter. 
  • Technology like this has existed for some time with temporary emails or similar services. We wouldn’t expect a majority of your readers to enact this more advanced users feature unless you’re in a very tech-heavy niche space.
  • Some are suggesting only allowing verified business email addresses for signup. Check that out if this is a concern for your newsletter community.

What should you do?

  • Understand how much of your audience was using Apple Mail. Work on quick calculations to best guess your actual open percentage. 
  • Build and test other engagement metrics for your audience. Think about actions users can take like clicking on surveys, give-aways, feedback forms, NPS surveys
  • Letterhead will continue to track the industry trends and develop feature updates as appropriate.