How Apple’s Privacy Changes In iOS 15 Will Affect Your Business

Email is still one of the most successful forms of direct marketing and this trend of increased privacy only underscores that successful marketing cannot be performed by an algorithm or bot.

On September 20, 2021, Apple released the newest version of its operating system, iOS 15.

In addition to the usual improvements, this version of iOS includes several major new privacy features.

We thought it would be good to walk through these changes, and how they could affect your business.

“Hide My Email” Obscures A User’s True Address

The first privacy feature is called Hide My Email. This feature allows users to sign up for services using an automatically-generated, randomized email address. All communication sent to that address will be forwarded to the user’s real inbox, but the business will only see the randomized alias.

This feature was actually introduced by Apple in a previous update; the difference now is that the option will be directly integrated into Apple’s Mail, Safari and iCloud apps. Because of that, the number of users taking advantage of the feature will increase.

How “Hide My Email” Will Affect Your Business

If your company relies on cross-platform tracking―that is, tracking a customer across two or more platforms based solely on them using the same email address―you should start thinking of additional ways to collate user data.

Luckily, because the feature has existed since 2020, most companies who rely on this kind of tracking have had time to brainstorm additional strategies.

For companies in eCommerce, you may need to educate your customer service staff about these changes. Because the randomized emails are hard to remember, you may see an uptick in customers forgetting their login information or creating duplicate accounts. You should be prepared to address these issues from a customer service perspective, and may want to pay closer attention to your contacts lists.

“Mail Privacy Protection” Makes Email Statistics Less Reliable

Apple’s second privacy feature, and the one that is likely to cause more friction for businesses, is their Mail Privacy Protection.

To give some background, if you’ve used a platform like Constant Contact for email marketing services, you’re probably familiar with the “open rate” statistic. These platforms calculate that statistic by using a “tracking pixel”―a tiny, invisible image inserted into each email. When a user opens an email, the platform can see that the invisible image has loaded, and thus they know that the email was opened.

After this update, Apple will preload all images in an email before it’s opened by the user. This means platforms like Constant Contact will report that the email has been opened even if it wasn’t. It also prevents them from gathering specific information about the user.

How “Mail Privacy Protection” Will Affect Your Business

The most visible effect of Mail Privacy Protection is that statistics from platforms like Constant Contact will become less reliable.

Businesses will see a sudden, artificial spike in open rates due to the tracking pixels being loaded automatically. Conversely, they’ll see a decrease in click-to-open rates (clicks divided by opens). Instead of relying on those statistics, traditional metrics such as conversion rate will become more important in judging which campaigns are successful.

Another consequence of this change is that features like “resend to non-openers” will no longer be as effective. This underscores the importance of hiring a local marketing agency that can tailor your emails to get more conversions the first time.

The feature only applies to those using Apple’s Mail, and only to those who opt in. According to Constant Contact, this may be about 50% of your mailing list at most. That being said, it would not be surprising to see other email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo following Apple’s lead in the coming years.

These Changes Underscore The Importance Of Smart Marketing

As drastic as these changes may seem, neither of them will make email marketing an outdated technology.

Email is still one of the most successful forms of direct marketing and this trend of increased privacy only underscores that successful marketing cannot be performed by an algorithm or bot.

After all, users with both features enabled will still receive emails in their inbox. It simply means marketers need to work harder to make sure those emails are relevant.

These changes also highlight the importance of other avenues of marketing. Successful marketing campaigns include multiple avenues of contact: direct emails, likes campaigns, ads, an active social media presence. It’s also important to have a well-optimized website that ranks highly in SEO, so that customers who are looking for you can easily find you.

Estland Can Create A Resilient Marketing Campaign For Your Business

If your business currently uses email as a way to reach customers, the team here at Estland would be happy to help you tailor your campaigns for the minimum disruption from these privacy changes. Our marketing services also include social media campaigns, SEO optimization, website design and more. If you want to future-proof your marketing strategy for iOS 15 (and whatever comes next), contact us today.

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