The impact of Apple’s email privacy protection, a year later

On September 20, 2021, Apple changed the email marketing landscape forever with the launch of its Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) feature. MPP prevents senders from using web beacons to collect information about their recipients, key customer data such as open rates and location tracking in particular.

This meant that email marketers had to shift away from open rate data and instead rely on other metrics to ensure the success of their campaigns, such as inbox placement, subscriber engagement, spam, unsubscribe rates and sender reputation. When the news broke, marketers expected MPP to make it harder to measure email deliverability. And a year after its release with iOS 15, we’ve seen our suspicions confirmed, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

The change in email

While we understand how and why Apple’s privacy-focused philosophy led to the introduction of MPP, it has had unintended consequences for subscriber engagement. Validity’s latest data on the state of email analytics shows that marketers aren’t in love with the MPP, with just 9% saying they have a positive view of the update. Of those respondents, 39% said MPP had a significant impact on their business, with two-thirds believing it had permanently changed email marketing.

Some of these changes are not welcome. Recent data indicates that 34% of marketers saw a decrease in email engagement, 32% a decrease in deliverability, and 30% inflated open rates. Further research has revealed that if a sender’s pre-MPP Apple Mail open rates were 20%, they will now have about a 4 to 1 ratio of fake to real opens, meaning that 80% of their reported opens are basically useless data. .

Hits to recycled spam traps are also on the rise since the introduction of MPP, a sign that many marketers are counting false opens or stretching their lookback windows too far. This challenge is becoming more and more pronounced – in early October 2022, Apple’s DPIs fell below 60%.

The new rules of engagement

With currently volatile global deliverability rates, email marketers urgently need solutions to account for what is sure to be a tough season.

In the wake of MPP, many senders have abandoned open rates as their preferred engagement metric, turning instead to click-through rates. Although clicks are fewer and farther apart, they are a more accurate measure of engagement, and there are a number of optimization tactics email marketers can use to boost them.

If you look closely at some of the marketing emails in your inbox, you’ll notice an increase in prompts to “click here” or “click here.” It’s not a mistake. Behind every button is an email marketer looking for proof of engagement.

We are also seeing a move towards greater use of zero-party data, which is intentionally provided by email subscribers rather than stripped from their behavior. A proven method of collecting this data is the preference center: a landing page that subscribers can use to make choices about the emails they receive. Senders should be more proactive in promoting these pages and encouraging their use for a highly personalized experience.

The case of BIMI

With MPP hampering engagement measurement efforts, senders need to be more proactive in using tactics that will simultaneously boost customer engagement and trust. Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI, have proven to be a surefire way to achieve this.

BIMI is an email specification that allows marketers to use brand-controlled logos within supported mailbox providers. It rewards marketers who strongly authenticate their messages by including an approved logo next to their official emails in recipients’ inboxes, so customers know your emails are really from you.

Gmail started supporting BIMI in July 2021, and with the iOS 16 release, Apple now supports BIMI as well. This means that BIMI will now work in around 90% of all b-to-c inboxes, leading to increased trust from BIMI-enabled senders, better brand recall and a higher likelihood of making a purchase. .

At present, BIMI is a competitive advantage, as it is not yet considered a go-to for email marketers. Early adopters will benefit from the positive attributes of BIMI in ways that competitors will not, especially as we continue to feel the impact of MPP.

MPP, for better or for worse

While MPP has certainly made the life of the email marketer more nuanced, it has also forced us to be more creative with our email campaigns and how we measure their success.

Now is the time for senders to be strategic about how we generate clicks and appear trustworthy in the inbox. We know that recognizable emails from trusted sources are more likely to be opened, so Apple’s adoption of BIMI and subsequent support for branded emails will be a boon for those struggling to reach Apple users.

The reality is that MPP is just one of the obstacles to preventing campaigns from turning into customers. Rising global email volumes, an extended holiday season, and the current economic climate are also currently putting downward pressure on email engagement. Email marketers should consider investing in deliverability tools that clear their way to the inbox and avoid the spam folder to generate more revenue and increase the lifetime value of their databases. It’s just about sending emails smarter, not harder.

About Sandra A. Powell

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