Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection. What does it mean for you and your business?

Apple's latest iPhone and iPad updates include a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection, which may have important implications if you send out newsletters and marketing emails to your clients.

According to Apple

In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.
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Apple's Mail Privacy Protection feature

These invisible pixels are often called ‘tracking pixels’ - tiny images embedded into the email. When an email is opened, the device downloads this pixel from a server, which then knows the email has been opened.

In fact, if you found this article from our newsletter, that newsletter has a tracking pixel. Like us, if your business sends marketing emails using a service like Campaign Monitor or MailChimp, your emails will likely contain these tracking pixels too.

Tracking pixels allow these email marketing services to provide you statistics like the open rate, how many times the email was opened, and the type of device used to view the email. For small and medium sized businesses, this can be useful information for identifying which emails resonated with customers, and crafting future emails that better serve their clients and meet the businesses marketing goals.

Tracking pixels are not inherently 'evil' and invading clients privacy. They're just a tool. And unfortunately like any tool they can be misused.

From mundane examples of annoying spammers who’ll flood your inbox once they detect you’ve opened one of their emails, to more insidious examples like widespread surveillance tactics used by corporations to track millions of individuals across the web. This data may then be sold to other companies, political parties or even other nations looking to influence our own.

That's why Apple has decided to intercept these tracking pixles and mask the users IP address, location data and reports all emails as opened (making open rates for these devices useless).

Personally, I've enabled this feature on my own iPhone, along with many of the privacy focused features Apple has released over recent years. I think these changes are great for users, and hope the trend continues towards privacy focused technology.

But what about your business?

Campaign Monitor has put out a great article which explains the new feature in depth, and also how businesses can adapt to use other metrics to evaluate their email marketing campaigns.

The key takeaways include:

  • Open rates, geographic targeting and device segmentation will be less reliable.
  • Think about your business goals and how you’re using email marketing to reach customers.
  • Click rate will remain unaffected by this change, so give your customers a reason to click on the email rather than just browse.
  • Use your website analytics to gauge your email marketing performance.

Despite these changes, we believe email marketing will continue to be a powerful tool for small to medium business. Did you know that $1 spent on email marketing can translate into $44 in sales! (source).

Get in touch to discuss how we can help navigate these changes, and market to your customers while still respecting their privacy.