Did Apple Kill the (Email) Marketing Star?

Did Apple kill the (email) marketing star?

Earlier this month, Apple released some information about their new iOS 15, set to deploy this fall, that set the marketing world ablaze. You may have already seen the commercial. In their continued push for privacy, Apple is improving upon their security and expanding that to email. So, what exactly is happening, how does it affect you, and what will we do about it?


The update will provide people with three options that will affect email marketing directly. They are:

  1. The ability to turn off open tracking
  2. The ability to block your IP address
  3. The ability to hide your email address

Apple has been gearing up for this for some time. Users already have the ability to load remote images in their email accounts. This option tells the user’s email not to download the images located in an email until they choose to do so by clicking the load images link. So, what does an image have to do with open tracking? If you don’t already know, Open Rates are determined by the email client opening and reading a small pixel hidden in the email that then “tracks” whether the email was ever actually opened. iOS 14 saw the ability to block cookies on third-party apps with a new notification that asks if you want to allow it to track you or not, essentially. That notification is currently seeing around a 95% adoption rate. The push continues this fall when the initiative to anonymize the user targets email. Apple will start masking the user’s IP address as well as turning off open tracking. This means the Open Rate metric will become a thing of the past. Since 38.9% of emails are read on an Apple iOS device, see Litmus’ 2020 Email Marketing Share Report, now is the time to act. 

Don’t worry if that all sounds scary. Apple hasn’t killed email marketing the way video killed the radio star. We simply have some work to do, and it’s work that needs to be prioritized regardless.

What We Can Do To Prepare:

1. Getting a Baseline

First and foremost, we need to establish baseline metrics. To understand where we need to go, we must know where we’ve been. Usually,  Click-Through Rates, or CTRs, are determined by clicks/opens. With Open Rates going away, we need to start tracking click/delivered. If we set a good baseline now, we will have no problem tracking performance once open rates are a thing of the past.

2. Deliverability

We will ensure everything is in order; your lead quality, your list hygiene (are we churning out the unengaged), and your sender reputation.

Your list size can be an attractive thing to look at, but how many are really engaged. Which will mean we start unsubscribing some emails that are clogging the sales funnel. Good list hygiene will be especially important before Apple releases the new features and before the holiday shopping begins.

3. More Powerful Segmentation

We will adjust your segments to include more activity than just Open Rates. Those metrics will be replaced by clicks, site activity, and/or ordering history.

4. Focusing on Engagement

Focusing on engagement is the most important factor. Those are actual people on the other side of that email address. We take a holistic approach, and it boils down to a few things:

  1. Are you on the right eCommerce platform? That customer data is going to be vital! Having your ESP hooked up to your store is already important but will soon be crucial. You’ll need to know what your shoppers are doing and wanting. This is especially true for those currently only working with Open Rates, Click-Through Rates, and Revenue. One-third of your decision-making data is about to be non-existent.
  2. Are you converting site traffic into subscribers? It may be time to really look at what incentives you can offer to gain new and relevant subscribers.
  3. Are you on the right Email Service Provider? There are great options out there, but it is not a one size fits all scenario. It may be time for you to consider swapping to a new provider. If you are in the right solution, it may be time to consider moving up a tier to add some functionality or features that will set you up for success.
  4. Finally, it’s time to understand the creative that is going into your emails. Elements we already test like subject lines, hero and product images, button color, and placement all need to be put through rigorous testing. We need to all be on the same page and confident about what is truly successful. We will answer the question, is it time for a change, or is it time to double down?

To put you at ease about all of this, SMS (text message) marketing is relatively new and has zero access to open data. However, SMS is currently seeing a 4600% ROI so, I think email is going to be just fine.

Side Note: Speaking of SMS, if you haven’t spoken to us about getting an SMS plan going for your business, what are you waiting for?

If you need help preparing your email marketing for the coming changes this fall, don’t hesitate to contact us and speak with an email marketing professional here at Ballistic Agency.


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