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Q&A for the Digital Marketer: Apple Mail Privacy Protection

Let’s get technical for a minute. Because if you’re a digital marketer, you know you can’t reach the right audience at the right time with the right message unless you talk tech. If you’re in email marketing, then you know that recently there was an Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) update that is impacting many marketers. There’s a lot to talk about here, and our marketing automation team has been staying up-to-date and is ready to dive in.

First of all, what is the MPP update?

Back in September, MPP became available for the mail app for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 devices. MPP hides your IP address, so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location. And it affects any email opened from the Apple email app, regardless of email service used. However, this update does not affect other email apps used on Apple devices. A distinct difference in user behavior.

The update is prompting many questions about what this means for marketers, especially when the full team is looking at monthly reporting together. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty questions that you may be asking yourself.


  1. Am I losing opens due to the Apple MPP update?

No, you’ll likely see an increase in opens. Because Apple is pulling everything to an internal server first and “pre-checking” the email, you’ll likely see a false increase in opens. During that “pre-check” process, the transparent image tracking the open is downloaded before the email ever reaches the intended recipient.


  1. What if I’m sending to a Gmail address? Those opens will still be accurate, right?

If that Gmail user opens their email within the Gmail app on their OS device, this won’t apply. But, if that same user is having Apple mail fetch new emails, it will show as a false open.


  1. As an email marketer, should I keep reporting opens?

Opens have always been a “squishy” metric due to the image download required to track an open. Clicks are a much more tried and truer metric. If you must track opens for your leadership, clients or donors, then look at your database. Anecdotally, about 50% of emails are sent to Apple devices or Apple email clients and will be impacted. But it’s important that you look at your database and see if that percentage rings true for your contacts. If it’s on the low side, you may want to continue reporting on opens. In the end, quality and accuracy will matter more than the quantity of opens. 


  1. Will this impact the logic I have setup in my automated programs?

Yes, it likely will. If you are using email opens as an engagement metric for things like re-engagement campaigns or when to resend a specific email or block of content, then you should audit that logic and see where it might be best to use clicks instead.


  1. What else will be impacted outside of email metrics?

If you’re using any technology for “real-time” email that uses opens, they will be impacted. For example, Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) has Einstein Send Time Optimization that looks at when an email is opened so that email can continue to be sent around that time. This will likely be impacted. If you’re using a feature that removes promotions from an email after they expire and shows a default message, these will also be impacted.


  1. I just pulled my metrics and I’m not seeing a big difference, why?

All Apple iOS updates take time to roll out and be adopted by users. Litmus anticipates that it may take up to six months after the release for the iOS 15 release to get to 90% adoption. So, if you checked your open rates the day after the release on September 20, 2021, you may not have seen a big impact.


Redefining KPIs

While this update can have a big impact depending on your programs, we recommend your team use harder KPIs like click-through rates, rather than just opens. And if you need help defining (or even redefining) your KPIs let us help you. It’s important to bring together all stakeholders and host a measurement workshop so that we can make sure your marketing programs are working harder for you. Do you need a workshop? If you haven’t done this within the last year, it might be time again. Or think about starting with a simple audit of your current email marketing for Apple iOS impact, just reach out to us to get started.

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