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That’s Rich: Somebody’s watching me

Mail Privacy Protection is going to have a significant impact on e-commerce and more sophisticated companies with larger marketing budgets.

September 28, 2021
By Rich Porayko


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I’m fine. We’re fine. Everything is fine. It’s a mess. On top of the abnormal headaches, our industry lost some really good people recently and we have a dead-heat, snap election! 

Between the election, Delta variant, vaccine passports and the fall of Afghanistan, a lot of people are even more on edge, and the tinfoil hat crowd has crawled out of the woodwork.

No, Karen, the vaccine will not track you. Your smartphone and tablet already do that. Email marketing has been tracking you for years though. Marketing emails contain invisible pixels that report info back to the sender on who is and who is not opening, what they are clicking, when they are doing it and what device they are doing it on. This happens when the emails are opened and the images are downloaded, usually automatically. It’s one of the many reasons why email marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing.

This will all be changing when Apple’s IOS 15 drops this fall with its “Mail Privacy Protection.” Mail Privacy Protection is going to affect your company’s email marketing, no matter which platform you are using. Read on and take some time to get familiar with what is and is not changing as well as some simple tips moving forward.

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Announced in June 2021, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection will give users of Apple’s Mail app for iPhone, iPad, Mac computers and Apple Watch the option if and when they want to open marketing emails. It is expected that most Apple users will opt in. Apple Mail will then start preloading images including the tracking pixel regardless of whether the recipient actually opened the email or not. This will allow users to mask information such as where and when they open an email, what device was used and other online activities linked to that device. 

According to Litmus, Apple Mail is one of the most popular email clients in use today, accounting for 52 percent of all emails opened in 2021. Essentially, that means pixels and open rates will no longer be reliable as a performance metric. That’s a game-changer. 

Since the data on who is and is not opening emails will no longer be reliable, auto-sending to non-openers will not be possible. That is a well-used, time-trusted marketing tool that is no longer available in the toolkit. 

On the bright side, there are certain advantages to the glass industry lagging behind the adoption of technology. With B2C accounts, we see over 90 percent of recipients on mobile devices. With the glass industry, we only see around 20 to 25 percent of email recipients and website visitors using mobile devices for work. I estimate that Mail Privacy Protection will likely affect about 15 to 20 percent of my glass industry subscribers.

Some data will be limited. Email list segmentation, automation and A/B subject line testing will change or cease to exist. These will be a non-issue for most glass companies as these are techniques that are not typically called for by our trade.   

Mail Privacy Protection is going to have a significant impact on e-commerce and more sophisticated companies with larger marketing budgets. For most glass companies that use email marketing, the stakeholders need to be aware that this change is coming and it’s going to permanently skew their open rates. For the most part, everything else can be worked around if you are simply looking to send a newsletter or promo every month. 

Moving forward, consider how you measure email marketing. Once IOS 15 hits, develop a new baseline to work from and study the trends but go beyond opens and clicks. Look at conversion rates; the percentage of recipients that take a specific action like call a phone number or make a purchase. Or focus on list growth; how fast you’re building your email list. Keep your eye on click rate: the percentage of recipients who click on an email. And forwards/shares are obvious metrics to watch. •


Rich Porayko is a professional writer and founding partner of Construction Creative, a marketing and communications company. richp@constructioncreativecom


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