Email best practices

How can marketers prepare for Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

The Apple Mail Privacy Protection launched September 20. We tell you how email marketers can prepare.

Hermes asking for directions



Privacy – we all want it, especially as we embrace more and more global technology. When it comes to our emails and other online activities, most of us want to be assured that the things we do are only being seen and used by the people we choose. So, when a new privacy measure comes along – like the new Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature – we’re all usually pretty happy about it.

Unfortunately, the same happiness isn’t always the case for email marketers. With Apple Mail Privacy Protection preventing you from seeing open rates, how are you supposed to market effectively? Is email – gasp – finally dead?

Have no fear… email marketing is here to stay, but you just might have to change your strategies to successfully adapt to the new normal. We’ve partnered with Bloomreach to give the updated scoop on the Apple Mail Privacy Protection and to share the steps you can take to ensure the continued success of your email marketing program.

What is Apple Mail Privacy Protection?

Nowadays, users are wanting more control over their user data, and more say in how much of that data can be used by marketers. And companies are taking note.

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection aims to restrict that user data for marketers – namely, by “[preventing] senders from knowing when [users] open an email, and [masking] their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.” Users will be able to to the feature on and off via the popup shown below.

Source: Bloomreach

So, yep, this means that, most importantly, email marketers won’t be able to track open rates for Apple Mail users or use dynamic content that is powered by the user’s IP. Because of this, you may worry that your campaign tracking and audience targeting may become less accurate.

Before you panic, however, there are steps you can take to keep your email program on the right path – open rates are far from the end-all be-all of audience measurement. The Apple Mail Privacy Protection was launched September 20 as part of iOS 15, and it’s best to be prepared as quickly as possible.

First, make sure you understand what the Apple Mail Privacy Protection update means and how it might affect you by checking out our blog post Apple Mail Privacy Protection: Is Email Marketing Dying Again?.

Next, it’s time to take action. So, what can you do?

How you can prepare for Apple Mail Privacy Protection

Luckily, the ways you can prepare for the Apple Mail Privacy Protection aren’t difficult or unheard of. Email has been evolving since its inception, and email marketing has always successfully adapted to follow suit. You may already be familiar with some of these practices but, if you’re not, now is a great time to add them to your marketing toolbox. Bloomreach and Pathwire have found these following practices to be foolproof when open rates can't be relied upon.

Manage list hygiene when open rates are unclear

Keeping a clean contact list is one of the most important things you can do when pursuing a successful email marketing strategy. Often, marketers use open rate tracking as an easy shortcut for list hygiene – if someone hasn’t opened an email within a specific time frame, they’re taken off the list to boost rates.

But, when you can’t see who’s opening your emails, you need to be proactive in building and maintaining a clean email list. First of all, when adding new contacts to your list, always confirm their sign-up via double opt-in. Double opt-in sends a message to every email address that signs up for your emails, and asks them to confirm their signup before being added to your list, as shown below.

This method helps to ensure that misspelled, nonexistent, and spam email addresses will not fill up your contact list. Instead, you’ll have a vetted list of real consumers who will keep your engagement steady and not mark you as spam. Here, quality is definitely more important than quantity.

You can also use email verification tools to bulk-clean your existing email list. Once again, pay attention to quality over quantity. Once you catch and purge unwanted addresses from your list, you’ll have a smaller but much more representative group of consumers to market to. Bloomreach and Pathwire highly recommend checking your list hygiene now as users begin to opt into the Apple Mail Privacy Protection, as you have the highest level of data available to help you properly clean your list.

These methods can easily help you keep your lists squeaky clean and your open rates more consistent without the need to actually see your open rates. Then, after building your great contact list, how can you effectively manage engagement?

Measuring email marketing success beyond open rates

Losing insight into your open rates may feel like a hit to your email program, but it’s important to remember that open rates are only the first step in the process. Keep an eye on your click-through and conversion rates. Really, these are the two that matter most to your strategy. After all, if 100% of your audience opens your emails but 0% of contacts click through or complete a purchase, you haven’t accomplished your end goal. On the other hand, if 50% of your audience opens your emails and 25% of your subscribers click through or complete a purchase, you’ve created a great amount of consumer interest and follow-through.

Additionally, you can use different tools to hone your email marketing strategy. A/B testing allows you to test different subject lines, preheaders, and other content for segments of your audience. Even without open rates, you can measure which types of content give you the highest click-throughs and the lowest unsubscribe rates.

Finally, you can always go straight to the source and create customer surveys. Surveys that ask your audience what they like and don’t like about your email marketing strategy will always provide you with great insights about how to change and improve your messages.

Other strategies to prepare your audience segments before the privacy feature rolls out include optimizing your existing flows for alternative metrics, focusing on an omnichannel approach, and using a combination of AI and zero party data to drive personalization. Find what works for you and stick with it.

Wrapping up

We hope we’ve made it clear that, while the Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature may seem scary at first, the reality is that invisible open rates shouldn’t be a negative for your email strategy if you rely on other tactics to measure engagement. Remember to focus on your other rates and use tools like double opt-in, list validation, A/B testing, and surveys to keep up with your audience and what they want. They’ll get the privacy they want, and you’ll get the data you need – and that’s something to never be afraid of.

Want more Apple Mail Privacy Protection tips from Bloomreach and Pathwire after Apple Mail Privacy Protection takes effect? Keep a lookout for our webinars at Email Camp and register for Email Camp 2021 by Pathwire now to get updates.


This post was written by Mary Dolan, Content Marketer at Pathwire, and Divya Mulanjur, Product Marketing Manager at Bloomreach. Bloomreach is a premier digital solutions platform that combines the power of unified customer and product data with the speed and scale of AI and predictive decisioning. With Bloomreach, users can deliver peerless consumer experiences that convert on any channel and every journey.

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