The new update to Apple software is getting a lot of attention from digital marketers and is causing more than just a little concern from brands that rely heavily on email to make meaningful connections with customers. For over a year, warnings have been sounded that one of the greatest challenges for data collectors and marketers in 2021 will be complying with regulations concerning the collection and use of consumer data. While the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023, actions necessary to meet compliance needs to occur in advance of the deadline. That time for email marketers is upon us, and the will of the consumer is driving the agenda.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 81% of consumers said they need to trust a brand to buy from them. By 2023, it is predicted that 65% of the world population will have personal information protected by data privacy laws. Clearly, compliance cannot be ignored.
With the arrival of Apple version 15 software, the “Mail Privacy Protection” feature will prevent advertisers and publishers from seeing how targeted consumers respond to a brand’s emails. The changes will require a reevaluation of the methods used to measure, monetize or use a popular email channel. The updates “prevent email marketers from using invisible pixels to collect information from recipients when using Apple’s Mail app for iPhone, iPad, Mac computers, and Apple Watch. Users will be granted the opportunity to mask their information regarding when and where they open an email, what device they use, and any other online activity linked to that device.” While alternatives exist for Apple email products, Litmus found Apple on iPhone held the biggest share of email openings. Future emails to consumers who opt into Apple’s “Mail Privacy Protection” will generate user information that won’t be very useful for marketers.
Erik Fialho, chief operating officer at LeftLane Sports, said “The change makes it more difficult to do things like A/B testing subject lines to figure out which one is most successful in getting people to open. Ultimately, it’s just going to be more difficult over time to use email, in general. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that email is going to go away. It’s still a very profitable marketing channel. It’s still a very useful tool. But that’s one of the reasons that we started to look at other communication methods.” For some time email open rates where championed as an effective method to measure an email campaign’s success. But others have long questioned the metric as being a valuable indication of consumers real intentions and argued that click through rates was a much more valid measure of consumer engagement.
A shift to “click through rates” requires brands to place more emphasis on creating more effective, engaging messaging to ensure that a targeted audience is actually taking action. For marketing organizations that have deferred the creative to technology in the past, a new day has arrived. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is certainly going to alter email marketing and the consumers who seek a personalized experience from favorite brands. The implementation of privacy data protections will go a long way to promote trust between sellers and customers and motivate email marketers to innovate and improve upon the email experience. The goal now, more than ever before, must be to focus on making a meaningful, trusted and personal connection.