Mail Privacy Protection: Implications for Spark Users

The privacy world continues to change for email marketers everywhere. Apple has officially launched iOS 15 which contains several privacy…

The privacy world continues to change for email marketers everywhere. Apple has officially launched iOS 15 which contains several privacy measures that will have a significant impact on the future of Digital Marketing. Email open rates have began to inflate across the board — here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.

What is Mail Privacy Protection (MPP)?

Mail Protection Privacy (MPP) is an update for the Apple Mail app that was included in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 as of Monday Sept 20, 2021. This update affects all emails opened within the apple mail app, regardless of which email address is connected (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc). Apple Mail consists of nearly 50% of the email app market share so MPP is going to have an enormous impact on the viability of tracking open rates moving forward for email marketers.

How Will MPP Work?

Email open rates are tracked by embedding a tracking pixel (which is literally a 1 pixel by 1 pixel image) into an email that is sent to a customer. When a customer opens the email and loads that tiny tracking pixel image onto their computer, information is passed back to the email sender to register that email as being opened. Take the sum of these loaded pixels for a given email and divide by the total number of emails delivered and that’s how you get an Open Rate.

However, MPP is going to throw a wrench in that process. Once an Apple Mail user turns on MPP, Apple will automatically load and cache all of the images from their emails (including tracking pixels) regardless of whether or not the user has opened an email or even seen it. What this means is that any email sent to an inbox with MPP will automatically register as an open, inflating open rates and thereby obscuring email performance data.

When Will This Happen?

Apple users are historically very fast to adopt new iOS updates. The previous update, iOS 14 went from 13% adoption in the beta phase to 65% within 6 weeks of the release and was at 93% prior to iOS 15 being launched. When iOS14.5 asked users whether they wanted apps to allow tracking, 96% of users chose to keep their information private. It’s likely that iOS 15 will follow the same adoption rate and that the majority of users will shortly opt in to MPP.

How should you prepare?

Review any campaigns, processes or automations you are currently running that are dependent on Open Rate. Mass email campaigns are an obvious place to start, but there are several other types of campaigns that could potentially be affected:

  • Deliverability or Engagement based on Open Rate
  • Automated nurture flows
  • Send time optimization
  • A/B Testing based on subject lines

Consider switching success measurement to clicks and conversions or another email metric that won’t be impacted by MPP instead of opens. You should also be considering negative metrics like hard and soft bounce rate as well as unsubscribes.

Mail Privacy Protection is the latest development in the constantly changing privacy landscape. With proper awareness and foresight, marketers can adapt to this update and continue to drive awareness and leads for their organizations.