I don’t quite know how to break it to Tom Hanks, but his inbox is about to be a lot emptier after the Apple IoS 15 update that rolled out two months ago. But the people I’m really worried about are all the small business owners and marketing directors who have leveraged email marketing for the past several years as one of their main forms of lead generation. Don’t worry, Email Marketing and E-Blasts aren’t going anywhere, but the effectiveness and accuracy of tracking that you’re used to are about to get a big dent in them.
Email marketing platforms are responding in different ways, some trying to downplay the change while others are making ominous statements such as: “When it comes to email marketing, this move puts a proverbial nail in the coffin for email open rates.” That’s from Greg Zakowicz, director of content at Omnisend, an email marketing, and SMS platform. His entire interview on this subject is super helpful.
In many ways, it’s still too early to tell what the full impact of IoS 15 will be, but the main features you need to know in regards to Email Marketing are as follows:
Mail Privacy Protection
This feature, in effect, stops email systems like MailChimp or Constant Contact from being able to generate an open rate. So if a user is using Apple Mail on an Apple Device, the app will now be able to stop that software from being able to tell how many people actually opened an email. Therefore, open rate can no longer be the standard metric of success for email marketing like it has been in the past.
But you probably caught a small detail in there, this update doesn’t affect EVERY email system, just Apple Mail. So is that really a big deal after all? Unfortunately, yes. 46% of emails opened last year were done in Apple Mail.
Some email platforms, like Constant Contact, are hoping to keep their open rates accurate despite this update by just not including any openings in their reporting from Apple Mail, in effect pulling data around Apple. But with Apple Mail being, by far, the most popular email app it will be interesting to see how sustainable that strategy is.
Hide My Email
If disappearing open rates weren’t enough of a change, Apple is taking their privacy protection even further with this feature that will stop marketers altogether from being able to collect Email Addresses for their database in some cases!
Apple’s “Hide My Email” feature basically lets Apple create a fake email address for a user so that their real email stays private. In the past, building out your email marketing list was a fairly straightforward process. Someone signs up for your services online, creates an account, fills out a form, etc and in return, you get their email address out of that transaction.
Now, however, the user will have the option to have that fake email address auto-fill on any email form or request they come across. That way, a user is still getting the whitepaper download or access to your service that they want, without having to give their real email address.
So how will this affect your email marketing? Basically, any emails that you send to that “fake” address will still be sent – so maybe “fake” is the wrong word to use. But unless the user decides that they want to have those emails to that fake address forwarded to their primary one, then your e-blasts could be sitting in limbo for quite a while.
So… Back to Carrier Pigeons Then?
Before you cry into your keyboard, take heart! First off, email marketing may be majorly impacted by these changes but it won’t be going away. Don’t let your takeaway here be that you should stop email marketing altogether. Even in cases where you’re no longer able to track Open Rate, you can still track things like Inbound Links that lead people to your website, so you may have to change the metrics you are using to gauge success. These new metrics might be more meaningful anyway.
And in some cases, you may just have to start treating email marketing like traditional marketing, meaning it's still working effectively, you just don’t have the same robust metrics to prove it that you’re used to.
On another note, email marketing isn’t the ONLY way to market to your list or database. In fact, it’s likely not even the most effective way. There are tons of technologies out there that target your list of emails, physical addresses, etc, and that serve ads to that list on other platforms that aren’t e-blasts. To name just a few that we offer at Wheeler:
Facebook Custom Audience – the ability to serve Facebook ads only to a list of email addresses, phone numbers, or physical addresses. This technology matches that database info to a user’s Facebook profile and then engages them with the power of Social Media Ads! Plus, you can use your current database to find new prospects with a Lookalike Audience.
Native Ads – You can also get your list of email addresses and use our Email Matching technology to match that email to someone’s online identity and serve those people Native Ads on whatever websites or apps that user goes to across their devices. This way, they don’t even have to open their email for you to get in front of them! Lookalike Audience is available here too!
Address Targeting – Don’t have email addresses but still have a robust list of physical addresses from back when people actually read direct mail? We can get that list of physical addresses and digitally polygon each household on it, giving us the ability to serve Display and Pre-Roll Video ads to all of the devices in that household, whether they’re at home or out!
Best of all, the above technologies aren’t going to be affected in any way by the IoS 15 update! Still have questions or want to talk through how your business can pivot to stay ahead of these evolving trends? We’re ready to help!