Thank you Apple, we L.O.V.E. MPP!

Apple delivered the email marketing community a gift at the WWDC this past week, and we at iPost cannot be more excited.  In case you haven’t heard, Apple will be releasing “Mail Privacy Protection” MPP later this year with iOS15, iPadOS15, watchOS8, and macOS Monterey.

Here is what we know so far about Mail Privacy Protection (MPP):

  • IP addresses will be blocked.
  • The opening times of emails will now no longer be accurate at all
  • Email opens will be completely inaccurate – All emails will be marked as open whether a person reads them or not.
  • Tracking Pixels (or “spy pixels”) will be opened by default
  • All remote images will be preloaded before hitting the users inbox
  • The iOS proxy will prevent getting client breakouts between iPhones, iPad, and Apple Mail. This is in line with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook proxies, so knowing your percentage of mobile vs. desktop openers seems like a thing of the past (more than it is already)
  • Detailed email headers will not be available
  • Device type will not be known
  • Fake email addresses can be used to sign up for newsletters and sign in to some services.

*Thank you, SRH Design, for this information.

The email community is all abuzz over this change and is trying to figure out ways to either technically get around it or talk about its impact on automated triggers, testing, STO, more unwanted email, etc. It appears as if the landscape is divided around this change, but the chatter is coming from Vendors/Influencers in the space, while the questions about what’s next are trickling from brands.

There are blogs and articles around things you should do right now to prepare and checklists so that when the release drops, you can pivot, and the magic will happen again.  That said, this news is less than a week old and will require some careful thought going forward.

WITH MPP RELIANCE ON OPEN RATES HAS TO BE RE-THUNK

If you have an open rate of 35% on a particular campaign or across your program, chances are you are pretty proud of it.  In some cases, you might open a meeting with that stat or look at some benchmark study to compare how awesome you are.  However, if your open rate is 7%, you might look at that stat and think that you are failing somewhere. While slightly necessary for directional decision-making, the open rate is still something marketers hold onto as a classic metric for performance.

The bottom line, it makes us feel good or bad about our program and is therefore classified as a vanity metric. Thus, an open rate is not something anyone should lead when talking about email marketing. Still, it sure is always a hot topic at conferences, in benchmark studies, and the classic question of “what is a good open rate?” that many people want validation for the things they are doing. Those that oppose the notion that the OR is a vanity metric are perfectly entitled to their opinions. While we respect their disagreement, we hope you can appreciate the idea that OR is an old metric that has seen better days, and Apple is now challenging us to “rethink” how WE as an industry measure email.

WHAT GOT US HERE, WON’T GET US THERE*. (*credit to Marshall Goldsmith)

We got here because the subscriber wants their privacy back, and they have been signaling us for years, and it just so happens that Apple listened.

We can also thank laws like GDPR, CCPA, CDPA as warning signals that change was/is happening.  Throw in a couple of thousand data breaches, monetization of open tracking data, and Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature, Thus have the makings for some pretty hellacious changes when it comes to tracking people.

As a community, we can either fight it and try to look for ways to continue to “track” people, or we can adapt to what our subscribers are telling us and experiment with some fantastic things that will offer greater value to them.

The email industry has faced many challenges in the past. Things like Google Wave, FB Messaging, Tabs, Hotmail Sweep, SMS, Slack, Outlook rendering, AI, Neural Networks, GDPR, CASL, CCPA, and others have all gotten our email shorts in a knot and have us all thinking that email will fundamentally change or die a slow death. Yet, the email channel survived, and we will survive this OpenApocalypse :-) that is upon us.

However, we won’t get there by trying to revert to what was.

DID MPP RUIN EMAIL MARKETING? WHAT’S NEXT?

First, take a collective deep breath around all of this.  This is not the end of email marketing, nor will your program die without accurate open rates. It might sting for a bit, but then again, nothing worth doing is easy and without some pain.

Second, there is no single solution that will solve it all for everyone, but now is an excellent time to reevaluate your program, including your success metrics, knowing what lies ahead. A suggestion we have is for you to engage with us at iPost with our eValuate program.

Third, this announcement and what is out now for Apple Mail is in a developer preview.  Things might change when the final release happens. (specifically in how they message it once Mail fires up for the first time)

Fourth, don’t go all Gmail Tabs on Apple Mail users and ask them to change email clients so that you can continue to live out your open rate obsession.

Fifth, isolate your Mail App users now and build a benchmark of what their open rates have and continue to be leading up to the release. It will make you feel good to know historical open rates, and you might be able to use that as an influence attribution/metric in the future.

Sixth, consider doing some research on your audience. We have many suggestions about this at iPost and encourage you to reach out.

Seventh, get your collective testing $h1t together. If you have dabbled in testing before, consider a formalized calendar/plan.  If you have thought about testing but just never pulled it together, buckle up and get ready to test into what can and will work for your program when it comes to this. iPost can help with both of these.

Last but not least, don’t fall for quick fixes to solve this problem. They will likely be quick fixes and only that. Gut tells us this is here to stay, so think long term.

WHAT IS iPOST DOING?

If you are a customer of iPost, (I highly encourage you to become one if you are not :-), please know that we are actively having discussions around this, and they will likely continue for weeks to come. We don’t want to release or promise something in haste, and we hope you can appreciate our transparency and the commitment we have to our customer base and those they email.

GOING FORWARD

There is no singular fix that will bring back accurate reporting on open rates post Apple release right now. Sure, there are theories and hacks, but nothing concrete.

What we need to change are our attitudes. We need to change the conversation, the idea and expectation of the “entitlement of open tracking” to the “privilege and respect of privacy in engaging” with all subscribers.

Let’s get started.