iOS 15 and How it Will Change Your Email Marketing

Marketers have been spoiled by the internet. Digital marketing, social media, and email marketing afford us tons of luxuries when it comes to tapping into our audiences and reaching them directly with our products or services. We’ve had it pretty good.

Until now. 

As I’m sure you’re well aware, Apple will be releasing an iOS 15 update, which will change the privacy protections of its users. While this probably delights tons of users and makes a lot of consumers feel better about the security of their information, it will definitely disrupt the marketing industry, which relies heavily on accessible user data.

Before you fully freak out, let’s examine everything about this update; how it will change the way you market your brand and how you send and track your email marketing. 

What is the iOS 15 Update?

The release won’t happen until Fall 2021 (although that will be here before we know it). Basically, Apple will offer users of its Mail app the ability to select “Mail Privacy Protection” and limit the amount of data available to brands and companies that send them emails and use tracking pixels. More specifically, when users select this privacy option, email marketers will no longer have access to information like:

  • When or where their emails are being opened
  • Results from hidden pixels
  • IP addresses, which means no more linking users to their other online activity

Will iOS 15 Kill Email Marketing?

Email marketing has been around forever. And it loves reinventing itself and claiming it’s “not dead!” But, could something like this be the final nail in the coffin? 

It more or less comes down to a bunch of factors. Things like:

  • How many people use Apple mobile products – almost half of the U.S. population uses iPhones.
  • How many of those users opt-in to the “Mail Privacy Protection.”
  • How well marketers are able to adapt and find other ways to tap into user data.

What Will Change with the iOS 15 Update?

Simply put, the way you track your email engagement, and the way you go about personalizing your email marketing, will have to change. You can wave goodbye to open rate data, and while we think we could probably live with that, there are other things that rely on open rates that will also be affected. 

For example, list health, segmentation, and automated triggers will all be affected since they rely on open rate engagement. 

How You Can Prepare for the iOS 15 Update

We have some time, but I wouldn’t dawdle. You should start thinking about this rollout now and start preparing your email marketing strategies and tracking practices. While this may seem like a big blow, the truth is that when you look at it in the right way, it will only help you improve your practices and your marketing funnel. 

Here are a few things we recommend focusing on that will help you better prepare for this rollout and still be effective at your email marketing. 

  • Audit. Double-check your practices to see where you’re relying on the data that will no longer be available. 
  • Prioritize collecting first-party data. Just as in the instance of losing third-party cookies, first-party data will be more important. Use landing pages, website forms, and poll your subscribers to obtain more information on them that you would have otherwise relied on open and location metrics. 
  • Make it all about opting in. If your practices are GDPR compliant, then you’re already ahead of the game. Make sure that every form you have on your site includes a box for users to check that opts them into your email marketing. Or, include a blurb that clearly states they’ll be opted in by filling out the form and that they can unsubscribe at any time. When you focus on building subscribers that opt-in, their engagement will be higher because they actually want to receive messaging from you. 
  • Identify new email benchmarks. As previously stated, you can’t rely on open rates anymore, so make sure you tap into the other email marketing metrics that matter. Click-through and conversion rates will matter more than ever, and make sure you adjust email testing, segmentation, and triggers, so they don’t rely on open rates. 
  • Scrub your list. Since your list hygiene can be contingent on open rates, make sure you scrub your list based on other engagement metrics. Consider deliverability-based pruning practices, and use other baseline metrics to determine whether or not a subscriber should stay on your list. 
  • Pay special attention to the bottom of the funnel. The bottom of the funnel is where personalization gets more and more granular. And since you’ll be losing access to things that can help with personalization, it’s time to examine the infrastructure of this area so it can still be successful at converting. 

In the world of marketing, it can seem like the minute you get comfortable, something sets the industry on fire, affecting how you do business and forcing you to get more creative with your approach. Apple’s impending iOS 15 update means definite changes to how we do things, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, there are great things that will come from this, including modified and improved marketing strategies that put the customer first. We hope this article helps you prepare and ensures you don’t lose any momentum reaching your goals this year.


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