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This post was written by David Jiménez

Apple jointly holds the top 5 individual shares of the mobile device and PC markets in Europe and North America. So, when they make changes to the rules of engagement for 3rd parties interacting with users, you can tell it’s going to have a knock-on effect on digital marketing globally.

According to conservative estimations, the new Apple Privacy Policy has cost their Silicon Valley counterparts over $10 Billion in revenue. The actual cost is very likely considerably higher. However, a lot of the fuss around the topic has been about the effects of the new policy regime on email marketing as we know it.

Meta and Google may be well more than able to weather a mere $10 Billion haircut, but where lies the fate of smaller B2B companies who really depend extensively on email marketing? In this post, we’ll be shining some light on this and many more talking points.

So what exactly is the new Apple Privacy Policy?

Apple Mail Privacy Protection, as the new policy is known officially, was introduced in June 2021 and then launched as a feature of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS in September of the same year.

Advertisers are largely reliant on user data — like open and click-through rates, — when iterating strategies for their email marketing. When subscribers open emails and load the images contained in them, the so-called “invisible pixels” in those images collect and transmit feedback data on when the email was opened, the location of the user, and the device used back to the email sender.

What the new Apple mail privacy protection feature does is that it gives users the option to choose whether or not they want to share these data. When a user switches it on, it takes email content on several journeys through proxy servers all over the place, eventually substituting their exact IP address for a randomly generated one. This way, any data collected by the email sender is unspecific and useless.
Let's Take a Bite Out of Apple's New Privacy Policy Update

How does Apple’s Privacy Policy impact email marketers?

The new policy introduces four significant changes in email marketing.

It prevents marketers from reliably tracking open rates

Advertisers have long used email open rates to determine the effectiveness of such variables as email subject lines, send time and even sender name. The most direct effect of the MPP is that marketers will no longer be able to collect this data from their subscribers who use Apple devices.

Protects subscribers’ geographical data

The second biggest pillar of the Apple Privacy Policy is that it masks subscribers’ IP addresses by bouncing email content through multiple proxy servers. It blocks advertisers from obtaining geographical information, which has otherwise been quite vital in designing location-specific emails that have come to be the hallmark of personalization-era email marketing.

Makes users’ device identity

The iOS/Android dichotomy is not just one of the devices’ features and whatnot. Reports suggest that iOS users averagely, earn higher incomes when compared to the Android OS. So, device information is vital for advertisers because it helps them segment the most valuable parts of their audience for enhanced marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, the MPP blocks the collection of this class of data too. While, on the surface, this might seem less consequential compared to the restrictions on open rate and location data, it severely hampers marketers’ ability to cross-sell and up-sell.

Bye-bye, A/B testing

At least, to some extent, A/B testing has gotten significantly impaired. Open rates and location data are two of advertisers’ most vital data classes in segmenting their subscribers for A/B testing. While A/B testing will continue in other forms, this counts as a hard blow to email marketers.

Other notable email marketing regulations

The EU is renowned for leading the charge on regulation across multiple sectors – finance, climate change (the carbon tax), and even the emerging crypto-economy; user privacy is not left out. Beginning with the so-called EU cookie law in 2002, and continuing with the more recent GDPR implemented in 2018, Europe has codified its resolve to protect the data privacy rights of European residents.

Few among the regulations are:

  • Websites are required to obtain explicit consent from users, before activating non-necessary cookies. So, email marketers whose service providers collect cookie data have to inform and ovation consent from their subscribers.
  • The regulation also mandates that collected personal data be collected, processed and stored in accordance with GDPR principles. Under EU law, the Cambridge Analytica debacle, for example, would be explicitly criminal.
  • Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous and given by a clear affirmative action and users must be allowed to pick and choose what cookies they permit to be activated. And consent must be as easily withdrawn as it is given.
  • Email marketers must explicitly state that they will be tracking engagement metrics, and they must clearly state the classes of data that will be collected, their collection methods, and the purposes of collection in an easy-to-read privacy policy.

What should email marketers do?

While the new Apple Privacy Policy has fundamentally changed email marketing, it is not the end. On the contrary, it presents an opportunity for email marketers to reinvent forward-thinking strategies that are every bit as profitable as they are respectful of the users.

Besides, one must remember that these new privacy settings are only applicable for users who voluntarily opt-in. So, it’s not inconceivable that the larger portion of the Apple consumer market will remain open. Regardless, below, we outline a few strategies that marketers can explore in navigating this new world.

  • Consider including interactive media in your emails.

Open rates are the major email metric that has been upended by the policy. What if you could replace those invisible pixels with a more fun option for your subscribers? Interactive media, such as polls and quizzes, can easily stand in its place. What’s more, they can actually be used to obtain more in-depth feedback.

  • Consider using a different set of metrics

For too long, marketers have relied on open rates as a measure of the success of email campaigns. What if that changed altogether? We all know that it’s not unlikely that many subscribers only open emails for a few seconds and are as good as unreached. Why not then develop a new set of metrics for measuring user engagement? Ones that perhaps, might be more revealing of the true state of readers’ minds. Sales conversion rates and subscriber growth rates, for example, are quite more telling of the success or otherwise of any email campaign. One good option is clicks rather than opens.

  • Commit to quality

In most commercial airplanes, there’s an autopilot feature that enables the pilots to take time off for a substantial part of flight time. Pilots engage this button because they know that everyone’s done their homework – the technicians have properly maintained and fueled the plane, and the weather has been correctly forecast. Understandably, a pilot who is not sure all of these have been done will be very reluctant to leave the plane on autopilot.

Email marketing is somewhat similar. We collect email open rates to examine how well received our emails are. What if we just focused instead on creating killer subject lines and content to deliver the desired results: privacy policy or not?

Conclusion

Consumer tech is an ever-evolving sector, as we can see in the new widespread discussions over user privacy. One thing is certain, though — that the new changes are here to stay, and as with every landmark era, there will be losers and, quite remarkably, winners. This means it’s entirely up to email marketers to keep evolving with each policy change, turning every one of them into an advantage.

At Efficy, we stay ahead of marketing trends to keep our clients in the loop and help them stay streets ahead of their competition. We provide one of the top email marketing software in Europe, and we’ve done that by carefully treading the fine line between innovation and regulatory compliance in these parts, empowering our numerous clients to join us as transformative agents in the digital revolution.

In our email marketing handbook, we publish quite a few of the email marketing strategies and skills that we have religiously applied in over two decades of service as one of Europe’s most influential email marketing firms. Book a demo today to join in the party!

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Let’s Take a Bite out of Apple’s New Privacy Update
Let’s Take a Bite out of Apple’s New Privacy Update