Does your organization ignore technology updates and their warnings?  If we have learned anything over these last few years, is that when a tech provider sends out early announcements of their updates… it is usually something major and something that should not be ignored. 

In June of 2021, Apple announced some significant changes coming to its Mail app when iOS 15 for mobile devices and Monterey for Macs are released this fall. These changes will affect consumers as well as the entire email marketing ecosystem. 

The three most significant changes are promoting the fact that Apple users can hide their email addresses, Apple will now also hide Mail users’ IP addresses, and Mail users can opt-out of tracking. 

The hiding of email addresses for Apple users isn’t new, but in its ongoing effort to improve privacy and security, Apple will be promoting it more in the latest update. The process Apple uses to “hide” email addresses is creating a unique, random address whenever a user signs up for apps via their Apple device so that a company can’t obtain their actual email and set up customer profiles on them. In addition to hiding email addresses, the new update will also add the ability to hide IP addresses, meaning trackers won’t find a user’s location and base a profile off of that. 

Perhaps the most significant change is the option for Mail users to opt out of email tracking. This is a huge change. For over twenty years, marketers have used invisible pixels to track when a user opens their email. But with online privacy becoming a growing concern in recent years, Apple is giving its customers the option to avoid this altogether when using their Mail app.

This means that it will be impossible for you to track open rates on a significant portion of email users. It’s estimated that about 40% of email users utilize Apple’s Mail app, and when presented with the option of being tracked through email, only about 6% of users opt-in. This means every email marketer will see a significant drop in open rates after iOS 15 and Monterey are released.

Open rates may only be one metric that we use, but it affects other metrics as well. Without open rates, it will be impossible to determine click-through rates and unsubscribe rates, which have long been the primary ways we measure the impact of our content. You won’t even be able to tell if an email was received or not. Many things we take for granted will be going away.

Areas that won’t be affected by these changes are clicks, actions, unsubscribes, and complaints. These have always been the most important metrics used to measure content impact, so the world won’t come to an end. But it does mean email marketers will have to change some things and get used to a new normal, especially if other companies like Google or Microsoft follow suit.

Changes in technology are inevitable; but don’t panic. Simply prepare for the changes by staying informed on the advances in technology while experimenting to keep your marketing fresh. And never forget that nothing replaces timely, engaging narrative from a credible source.