[17] iOS 15 - Is Email Marketing Next On Apple’s Privacy Conquest?  – Email Growth Society

[17] iOS 15 - Is Email Marketing Next On Apple’s Privacy Conquest? 

CWEG 17 | iOS 15

Today, we're looking closely at iOS updates. We know with iOS 14 Apple changed a lot about how performance marketers approached Facebook ads, allowing users to opt out of being tracked. Navigating this was challenging. And now, we need to prepare for iOS 15, where email marketing could be greatly affected by allowing people to hide their real email addresses, as well as tracking impacts. I think trying to understand this update and the path forward is really important - so that's what we're going to chat about today. 

 

Have questions? Send them my way. Conversations@emailgrowthsociety.com

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iOS 15 - Is Email Marketing Next On Apple’s Privacy Conquest? 

I hope everyone is doing well out there. A friendly reminder that please rate the show on your podcast platform of choice and share if you can. If you know of someone that will benefit from the pod, share away. I love the idea of getting these important tips out to as many people as possible. We're looking closely at iOS updates. We know with iOS 14, Apple changed a lot about how performance marketers approached Facebook Ads allowing users to opt out of being tracked. Navigating this was challenging. Now we need to prepare for iOS 15 where email marketing could be greatly affected by allowing people to hide their real email addresses and additional tracking impacts.

Trying to understand this update and the path forward is important, so that's what we're going to chat about. As with paid media marketers, with iOS 14, it's the email marketers turn to feel the burn of Apple’s quest for privacy-led dominance. The launch is estimated for September 2021 and will apply to all iOS 15, iPad OS 15, and Mac OS devices. Many of the cool new iOS 15 releases have social media abuzz. However, virtually, every feature has a privacy component involved. Apple has been pressing the privacy message more heavily since 2014. Apple says it believes privacy is a fundamental right.

Since stepping in the role of CEO of Apple in 2011, Tim Cook has continued to emphasize privacy as a priority for Apple. With the iOS 14 and iOS 15 developments, it seems privacy has become a core brand identifier and competitive differentiator against other tech giants like Android and Windows. While I do agree on privacy, we also have to balance out the need for data. Our users expect it. If we lose the ability to understand our users, we can't deliver them the right content at the right time. That's one big reality.

If we lose the ability to understand our users, we can't deliver them the right content at the right time.

First, let's try to understand the key iOS 15 email privacy updates so that we can try to plan for a path forward. We've got four big ones here. First, mail tracking pixels are being removed. The Apple Mail app will start running images through proxy servers to remove tiny image-based tracking pixels that report when and where messages were opened. We also have a private relay to remove location data. This service will hide users’ IP addresses, which usually infers a location. It's not a VPN, but traffic will run through Apple servers and a third-party server to remove identifying information. Traffic leaving a user's device will be encrypted so that third parties can't see what users are searching for, and that supposedly includes Apple II.

The next one is the Hide My Email feature. iCloud subscribers can create and use temporary anonymous email addresses inside the Mail app, sometimes called burner addresses. Lastly, the privacy dashboard feature. The new privacy dashboard will show users which apps are collecting their data and when. That's a continuation of Apple's App Tracking transparency feature from iOS 14. Users will be able to overview which apps have been given permission to access data, what data they're using, and see how often it's accessed.

To provide context for how emails are processed now, nearly all marketing emails contain hidden pixel-sized images that know when you've opened an email. Most general email users are unaware that these hidden trackers exist, but in fact, these images collect information about you, including your IP address and where you are. The email open information from the tracker is leveraged mostly by marketers to better optimize email campaigns and other marketing initiatives based on the engagement data received from the emails.

CWEG 17 | iOS 15

 

Some browser extensions already blocked these invisible trackers but Apple's participation in making this activity more difficult to track in that Mail app. You might think that these updates are somewhat ironic while Apple also announces an expansion into online payments, identity, and health data, meaning that they'll hold more customer data than ever before. Other announcements in the update are that they have the health data updates. The iOS 15 can read more health data and you'll have the ability to share this with your family and your health care providers, as well as identity data updates, government IDs, key cards, and car keys, are to be stored in the Wallet app. Perhaps soon, you'll be able to use it as an identification in participating US state airports.

Apple claims it will quickly produce products that will safely comply with government regulations. What does all of this mean for email marketers? Over 45% of Apple users use the Mail app. The loss of open rates, behavior, and location data will drive significant changes to how email marketers are able to effectively engage and interact with a sizable portion of their list. It's going to have big impacts for optimizing deliverability by removing unengaged contacts, split testing your campaigns, real-time personalization, and targeting re-engagement campaigns. Also, respecting privacy by identifying and delegating unengaged contacts, triggering sequential emails and an automated nurture flow, and optimizing send time to maximize open rates.

Some of these are some of the biggest things we preach as email best practices. Naturally, we completely agree with privacy and personal data security that it's an absolute priority. As you can see some of these impacts as marketers, what can we do to keep delivering the content, targeting, and personalization that customers expect that our jobs depend on? Here are five tips to help you get prepared for September.

In nearly every event that forced our industry to challenge our best practices, we've almost always increased the quality of our marketing strategies rather than the inverse.

The first one is to assess the portion of your audience that's going to be affected. How much of your audience uses Apple Mail to read your emails? Can you capture data now for which client segments use the Apple Mail app most? If it's low, fingers crossed, then the update might have little impact on your program. In which case, you'll still have enough data from the other mail apps to provide statistically accurate data for running your campaigns.

Next, you have to know your benchmarks. Compare delivery to open and click rates and variations by location as these may become more assumption-based in the future. This works more precisely when you can segment by goal and audience. The third one, test, test, and test again. If you don't already have a solid handle on what engages your email list and drives desired actions best, test as much creative and messaging variations as possible to solidify your audience's understanding. Break it down to audience segment level, so you've got data to guide future campaign design in place of recent openers.

You need to work on improving your deliverability. Deliverability is affected by your email open rates. If you have low open rates, your emails could be classed as spam and blocked. Take the opportunity to clean up your lists, lead quality, and sender reputation now. It's good practice anyway. What could you do to keep tabs on this in the future without access to full open rates? For example, does your sales team need to be briefed about the increased importance of updating CRM information in a timely manner? Can more stringent list screening be done before campaigns are launched?

CWEG 17 | iOS 15

Always make sure you have a focus on content quality. Data integrity and fixing common data weaknesses are key here. Last, avoid major pivots. For paid media, the worst thing you can do right now is to completely shift your email marketing strategy. Stay calm and carry on with a proven customer acquisition strategy. There is still time to adapt. As marketers, we have proven that we are an adaptable sort. Keep assessing workarounds and alternative data quality strategies. For example, collecting higher quality client information in targeted form fills or during the lead prospecting process, improved database design, and more regular data auditing.

While changes in email marketing strategy are inevitable, there may also be some silver lining to this iOS 15 thing. In nearly every event that has forced our industry to challenge our best practices, we've almost always increased the quality of our marketing strategies rather than the inverse. iOS 15 will be no different. Open rates have played a critical role in analyzing engagement, segmentation, deliverability, and so on.

Some email marketers argue that we may be too reliant on a metric that hasn't proven to be a direct correlation in driving desired conversion actions. Anytime we are pressed to think about how we can drive more activity further down the funnel, for example, clicks, purchases, or diversify our interactions with our customers in new and unique ways, it's often a healthier push towards something we already have know.

My final thoughts on iOS 15 email marketing is focus initiatives on lower-funnel activities. Though the audience will be smaller, email marketers will be challenged to consider how to drive more bottom-of-the-funnel activities focusing on elements like call to action, landing page layouts, flow, and messaging to earn clicks and analyze engagement. Button CTA such as, “Click if you love hearing from us,” will give you stronger signals and segmentation than open rates may have. You've got an opportunity to refresh what engagement means for your brand. Rather than relying on open rates to determine email engagement, it's time to restructure what engagement KPIs drive success.

Metrics like shop recently, value data, and more will soon be a part of defining success in your campaigns. Meet people in newer, more personalized destinations. We've heard it 1,000 times, build an SMS infrastructure, get campaigns live, and build more personal with your customers. Open rates are the thing most people rave over when it comes to SMS. Our team raves about the level of relational communication you can have with your customers. If done right, SMS and communication vehicles like it will continue to rise in value over the next era of digital marketing.

The bottom line, Apple's planned email privacy updates are going to challenge our email strategy. As with myself, some of the marketing community is a little skeptical of how effectively this update allows marketers to respect customer privacy and experience if we can't see whether they're engaged or not. Research has shown that a majority of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience.

Buyers also expect to receive personalized and relevant content as a part of their trust in your brand. However, if you prioritize the steps above to mitigate the potential impacts now, hopefully, you won't suffer too much impact as a result. Remember that if you have any questions on the topic, feel free to email me at Conversations@EmailGrowthSociety.com. Use these tips to help get ready ahead of the update. As always, happy emailing, everyone.

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