Report Analysis

Apple Mail Privacy Protection: How Does it Affect Your Newsletter Reporting?

Reading Time 4 min.

The Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) feature was released on September 20, 2021. What is MPP and what impact does it have on your email marketing?

Everything You Need to Know

  • The latest iOS 15 update allows Apple Mail users to prevent their email opens from being tracked
  • Email marketers can no longer track the subscriber’s location or the device they use for reading an email
  • Apple automatically pre-loads all images including tracking pixels without subscribers actually opening an email
  • Open rates in your Newsletter Reporting therefore no longer provide reliable data
  • CleverReach now excludes Apple Mail users from open rate reporting and open-based automation workflows
  • You can still use the click rate and other performance metrics to measure the success of your email

What is Mail Privacy Protection?

A new privacy setting for receiving emails was introduced this month for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey and watchOS 8: Mail Privacy Protection (MPP).

When opening the Apple Mail app, users can decide whether they want to hide their own IP address or not. However, for users who have not used the app before and now activate it, MPP will be a default setting. The selected setting will then be applied to all Apple devices in use via the Apple ID.

If MPP is set to active, Apple first loads content from delivered emails via a proxy server before the user (the recipient of your email) actually opens your newsletter.

Why Mail Privacy Protection Matters for Email Marketing

Apple downloads the entire content of delivered content when opening their Mail app. This also includes images and tracking pixels which are relevant to newsletter marketers. By using these elements they can evaluate whether a recipient has opened the delivered email, clicked links in their newsletters and much more.

As these data are now automatically downloaded before a recipient actually opens your email, reporting metrics like open rate are increasing, but no longer reliable. Email service providers like CleverReach® therefore don’t track real opens by recipients but fake ones from Apple servers.

This makes is impossible to track when and whether recipients have opened your newsletter themselves. Open-based newsletter campaigns (e.g. follow-ups or AB-Tests) no longer work with Apple Mail users. Only when they click a link or image in your newsletter you can be sure that it was the recipient who opened your email.

Additionally, the Apple proxy server reports a generalized IP address back to the sender. Apple “masks” the exact location of your subscriber, which makes segmentation based on this metric significantly difficult.

What Does CleverReach Do About MPP?

Recipients using Apple Mail, who have enabled the Privacy Protection feature…

  • are no longer included in the “open rate” statistics in our Reporting, as long as they didn’t click on a link
  • are automatically excluded from THEA automation statistics working with opens as a trigger

These changes only affect Apple Mail users. This means that the impact on your Reporting depends on the number of Apple Mail users among your recipients.

In general, however, Apple’s share of the most popular email clients is already 48%, according to Litmus. It can be assumed that in half a year at the latest, all users will have carried out the latest update and most likely also activated the Privacy Protection.

Tips: What You Can Do

In the world of email marketers it has been rumored for some time now that the open rate is no longer THE performance metric. Even if we don’t quite agree, privacy updates such as the Apple Mail Privacy Protection make the open rate less and less reliable and convincing.

That’s why it’s essential to evaluate the success of your newsletter campaigns by also considering a bunch of other performance metrics. We recommend the following steps:

  • Use the CleverReach Reporting or other tracking tools like Google Analytics to check how many of your email subscribers are Apple Mail users. This allows you to better calculate the impact of the MPP update and analyze changes in your open rates.
  • Take a look at your Automation workflows and AB-Tests. It could make sense to reorganize your email workflows and split tests and define other figures, e.g. clicks, as triggers.
  • Think of other KPIs (click rate, conversion rate, purchase data, bounces, subscriptions and unsubscribes) you can alternatively use to monitor the success of your emails and create segments.
  • If the location of your recipients is important for your email marketing, it now makes sense to explicitly ask them about it and transfer the information to a data field, e.g. via a form. This better ensures that recipients receive the right content for their location via newsletter.
  • Apply findings from the behavior of other users to that of Apple customers. At the end of the day, someone who uses Apple Mail won’t have particularly different subject line preferences than an Android user.

 

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