Email marketing is about to change forever - how can brands adapt to these changes, and what metrics should we be looking at? Following on from the recent changes in advertising caused by the Apple iOS14.5 update, Apple is currently in the midst of rolling out iOS15, which will have an even greater impact on digital marketing, and Email Marketing in particular.
iOS15 includes two key features that will impact email marketing - Mail Privacy Protection and Hide My Email. Much like the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) Framework rolled out in iOS14.5, there will be a choice for the user, but with a resounding number of people not opting in to be tracked through Apps, we expect the same with email.
With Hide My Email, users can create unique, random email addresses that forward to a personal inbox. If a user needs to sign up for a purchase or to receive a discount code, they will now be able to create a random Apple-created email address which will consist of random words and numbers with an @icloud.com domain rather than using their real email address. This feature will be integrated into Safari, Mail, and iCloud Settings and creates an accessible way for people to protect their real email addresses from spam.
The Mail Privacy protection will prevent email senders from tracking whether a user opens an email, how many times they viewed that email, and whether they forward on that email. It will also hide the IP address of a user so that senders are unable to determine their location, and connect email habits with other activities online.
Email Marketing has been a huge part of the digital marketing mix for some time, contributing between 20-40% of revenue across our client base, and much the same across the industry. The new iOS 15 features will undoubtedly change the way we use email marketing going forward and have huge implications for businesses that aren’t prepared.
So what will this change?
- Email sign-ups become skewed. The collection of authentic and accurate email addresses will be harder with many users opting to use ‘fake email addresses’ when entering details at checkout or when signing up via a pop-up on a website.
- Reporting and Optimisation will become difficult. Open rates may be inflated, and click-through rates may be obscured.
- Subject line tests will become extremely hard to get any useful data out of.
- Automations like those after someone opens an email will become redundant.
- Engaged audience segments and unengaged segments based on open rates will become inaccurate.
- Send time optimisation will become obsolete, with many ‘opens’ being tracked right after an email is sent to Apple users.
- Location tracking and targeting may no longer be reliable with IP addresses being blocked.
Much like our suggested approach to iOS 14.5, more than ever brands need to focus on creating deeper, personalised engagement with their customers (and potential customers), rather than a light-touch and volume-based approach. Gone are the days of running competitions to generate 10,000 email sign-ups! Similarly, brands will need to take a holistic approach to the measurement of their email marketing performance. We suggest focusing on true engagement (clicks, replies, questions asked), revenue generated (and the correlation of that revenue with your email content), and of course, customer lifetime value.
In saying that, there are a number of key actions you can take now to ensure you are in the best position possible for when iOS 15 rolls out.
Steps to Prepare for Apple’s Changes:
- Focus on data protection, transparency, and building honest relationships with your customers.
- Start looking beyond Open Rates to track email marketing effectiveness. Start actively tracking click & delivered rates. You’ll want a good benchmark now for when open rates become a thing of the past.
- Clean your lists and suppress any dormant contacts now - these may suddenly appear in ‘engaged’ segments you don’t want them in.
- Build new segments based on recency of sign-up, purchases, on-site behaviour, AND engagement.
- Test, Test, Test. Whilst you have the ability to, test as much as you can - Subject lines, Sub-Text, Timing, Content.
- Evaluate all emails and ensure they are as ‘clickable’ as possible. Stop sending single image emails that generate no relevant data.
- Utilise the algorithms built into your email platform to identify the best send time, subject
- SMS - if you haven’t already implemented an SMS strategy, now is the time to do so. As SMS doesn’t have a pixel, there isn’t a great way to measure open rates for these messages. Clicks and replies are the only signals of engagement on SMS.