The Death of the Open Rate

Apple recently made an announcement of tracking changes that could directly impact the success of your email marketing program. According to Apple, “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.”

What This Means for You

With the update, Apple users will have the option to select if they want to “Protect Mail activity” or “Don’t protect Mail activity.” We expect most users will choose to protect it. If they do, email platforms like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc. will not be able to track if the user opened an email. If they chose the option not to protect, open rates are still skewed because the tracking pixel would load for every email whether it’s opened or not.

There’s a lot of speculation still happening as the industry wraps its head around this change. However, this could mean communications dependent on open rate such as A/B tests, email open automation triggers, and send time optimization are rendered useless.

Our Recommendation

Ultimately, open rates and click-through rates are measures of engagement. We want to understand how many people took an action out of those who had the opportunity to take an action. Since most email boxes are overloaded, a user may never see the email that was sent and therefore did not fully have the opportunity to take an action. We recommend putting greater emphasis on click-through rate. This means the vast majority of emails should have a clickable call to action to better assess how engaged the user is with the content.

This approach has a significant upside of improved advertising retargeting. Advertisers could further retarget highly engaged email audiences by prioritizing the click to the website, and also have better email audience data because the activity of those users is captured by Google Analytics on the website.

Final Note

While people continue to use multiple email apps like Outlook and Gmail, the Apple Mail Privacy Protection tracking change is likely to have a significant impact on digital marketing strategy.

I encourage you to stay flexible and think of creative solutions as the digital landscape continues to change this year!


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