How to handle changes in Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

This article provides an overview of how Sendinblue is handling the changes in Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection.

With iOS 15 and Mac OS Monterey, it’s no longer possible to know if an Apple Mail app user opened your email.

Sendinblue has taken initiatives to help you prepare your email marketing strategy for the changes that have an impact on your open rate.

1. How does open tracking usually work?

To know if an email was opened, Sendinblue places an invisible pixel into each email campaign. It’s a very small and transparent image that loads each time the email is opened. By implementing this pixel we can:

  • count opens
  • estimate a contact’s location and time zone
  • determine device type
  • know the email address

2. How does Apple Mail Privacy Protection work?

apple-mail-privacy-protection.webp

People using Apple Mail have the possibility to enable a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection. This feature will not be enabled by default. Once a contact chooses to enable it, Apple Mail will preload pixels, even if the email wasn’t opened.

When your contact enables Apple Mail Privacy Protection, all the emails received in Apple Mail will be reported to us as opened. It would make open rates inflated and unreliable.

3. What does Mail Privacy Protection change for email marketers using Sendinblue?

Mail Privacy Protection has some disadvantages: by preventing email marketers from properly analyzing their campaigns, it will be more difficult for them to offer their subscribers personalized subject lines that they really want to receive. This could therefore lead to more unwanted emails.

The open rate is important in measuring the relevance of an email subject line. It is also used for many functions such as automation.

As Apple Mail will automatically open all tracking pixels, it will no longer be possible to clearly determine which emails have been opened by a human.

❗️ Important
Note that this only applies to Apple Mail — and not subscribers using, for example, the Google Mail app on their iPhone.

➡️ Here are the main changes:

  • Opens on Apple Mail can no longer be accurately counted in the open rates
  • Automation workflows running on an "Open" trigger will no longer work for Apple Mail users
  • Any segmentation based on open rate will no longer be reliable for Apple Mail users
  • Open rate-based A/B testing (such as subject line A/B testing) will no longer work for Apple Mail users
  • Geolocation features will no longer work for Apple Mail users
  • Optimizing the sending schedule (Send at best time) will no longer be reliable for Apple Mail users

4. How Sendinblue adapt to Mail Privacy Protection?

Here are the measures taken by Sendinblue to continue giving a relevant analysis of your email campaigns:

  • Exclude Apple Mail opens when calculating the open rate.
  • Exclude Apple Mail opens from “Open” trigger conditions for marketing automation workflows.
  • Give you the possibility to continue using your automation workflows, but without opening triggers from Apple Mail users. By taking this decision, we can be sure that we are not increasing the number of spam emails.
  • Provide you with an estimated open rate and estimated number of open emails. Based on the data collected by our system, we will be able to give you estimated statistics that are precise enough to measure the success of your campaigns.

5. Our recommendations to improve your email marketing strategy.

Ask yourself if Apple Mail statistics are really important

Take a look at your statistics, you might find that Apple Mail users are only a small portion of your contacts.

Furthermore, there is no reason to think that an Internet user using Apple has a totally different mindset and preferences to that an Android user.

For example, if you perform an A/B test to determine the effectiveness of a subject line (measuring openings among your contacts who do not use Apple), it's a safe bet that the winning subject line will be just as effective for Apple users.

Pivot towards a strategy based on click rate

Apple Mail Privacy functionality may be just the beginning and others, like Microsoft, will soon be rolling out similar systems.

To continue to effectively measure your email campaigns, all you have to do is focus on the analysis of click rate.

If the click rate gives less information about the primary interest of your contacts (which subject line prompted them to open the email, for example), it is still the ultimate measure of the quality of your content. What is the use of pushing your recipients to open your emails if they aren't interested in the content they find there?

Consider redesigning your automation workflows so that events previously triggered by an opening are now triggered by a click. More generally, focus your KPIs and analysis on optimizing the click rate instead of the open rate.

FAQ

What is happening with the clicks, bounce rate, unsubscribe rate?

Nothing. The Apple changes only affect opens.

How will Apple's Mail Privacy affect automation workflows?

Emails coming from Apple will not be counted as an open in your scenario, and will not trigger the next action.

How to handle unengaged filters?

The unengaged filters are based on clicks and conversions. Please note that they are still working for opens coming from non-Apple Mail users.

How is this affecting deliverability?

It won’t affect deliverability.