- Apple is releasing the latest versions of their operating systems iOS15 (20 September 2021) and MacOS12 Monterey (release date TBC)
- This update will include new privacy settings in Apple Mail, which will preload email images, including the tracking pixels used to track 'opens’ by email providers
- This means that all emails received by Apple Mail will appear as having been opened in Spektrix and Dotdigital regardless of whether they have or have not
- This will only affect Apple Mail users, but they make up approximately 35% of all email recipients and, our data suggests, 50-80% of users for our client base
- This will affect all mail marketing platforms in all sectors. Both Spektrix and Dotdigital (our email integration partner) have no influence on Apple’s decision
What does this mean for Spektrix clients?
- ‘Opens’ will no longer be a reliable metric for measuring email Campaign engagement
- This may affect Dotdigital Programs if ‘opens' are used to trigger other actions
- This change won’t affect email performance or deliverability, but it will impact analytics for any clients who currently report on open rates
- Nothing will break if no action is taken. Emails will still be sent and automations will still be triggered
- The worst-case scenario is that open rates will stop being a useful metric and automations will send emails to Apple Mail users incorrectly
What should you do?
- Stop reporting on open rates and use other metrics to assess email Campaigns at the soonest opportunity after 20 September 2021
Suggested metrics include:
- Clicks and Unsubscribes: these can be measured using Campaign Reports in Dotdigital
- Web traffic: use the Acquisitions tab in Google Analytics to measure the number of visits to site pages from emails
- Conversions: in Spektrix, report on ticket revenue from people who were sent a specific email. This is the most reliable measure of all, as it measures email performance against the ultimate goal and takes into account both people who book directly via your email, and those who need time to firm up their plans before coming back to a site to make a purchase. To measure the impact on sales, set Target Event/s in Spektrix for each email sent, and use the ROI report to track ticket income from email recipients
- Revisit the last few Campaigns sent by your organisation and compare previous open rates to clicks, web traffic, unsubscribes and ticket purchases. Use this information to then set new target metrics
- Review your automated email triggers at each step. If any of them rely on 'opens’, consider what you’re looking to measure and which of the alternative metrics could work instead
- Review your email templates and imagine how readers will engage with them. If using clicks as a primary measure, make sure the language and positioning of their calls to action (CTA’s) are clear and inviting. Supercool has provided some useful advice on CTA’s and goal-setting which you can read here
- If you’re using conversions to analyse impact, make sure you’ve identified target events or other goals before you start building a new Campaign
What else should you be aware of at this stage?
- This is a global issue and will affect anyone who currently uses 'opens' to track customer engagement with emails
- The alternative tracking metrics mentioned above (clicks, unsubscribes and conversions) all rely on first-party cookies rather than permissions set by the mail provider. That means it’s very difficult for external companies to prevent access to those metrics in the future
- Similar changes in the past such as spam filters, Google’s primary inbox/promotions tab and GDPR have ultimately helped to target communications on people who are genuinely interested. Moving the focus away from transient open rates and onto other metrics may ultimately be an improvement
- There may be tips and tools circulating online which offer ways to ‘get around’ the new privacy settings. Don’t be tempted to spend time or money avoiding this change - Apple will almost certainly stay ahead of any workarounds, and other email providers are likely to follow
- Although Apple’s privacy settings are optional, it’s expected the vast majority of users will opt-in
- Only Apple Mail users will be initially affected, but we expect that other email platforms will follow suit
- We expect Mailgun logs to be similarly affected
Please don't hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team if you have any further questions or would like to discuss anything covered here in more detail.