FAQ: What Your Company Needs to Know About iOS 15

6 minute read

Team Adestra

Earlier this month, Apple announced additional data privacy updates coming with the release of iOS 15. These latest changes take the privacy updates of iOS 14.5 to the next level – putting a heavier focus on email privacy and tracking.

This announcement has prompted new concerns about how companies will interact with their email audiences in the future and will require marketing teams to run impact assessments on their current email KPIs and automated customer journeys.

Our on-demand webinar, What iOS 15 Means for Your Email Program, takes you on a deep dive of understanding the new privacy updates.

iOS 15 FAQ

When is this happening?

Right now, Apple is expecting to release iOS 15 to all users sometime in September 2021. However, there may be a beta test for some users as early as July.

What’s changing to email?

Regarding email, Apple’s iOS 15 gives its users:

  1. The ability to remove email open tracking
  2. The ability to block their IP address
  3. The ability to use randomly-generated email addresses for email signups

Who will this affect?

These changes are exclusive to Apple Mail users who update to iOS 15. Those who use other email apps (such as Microsoft Outlook or Gmail) will not be subject to the new iOS 15 features. That said, we shouldn’t expect this to be the case forever – rival email and app providers will likely follow similar guidance in the future. 

Why haven’t I heard of this yet?

If this new guidance from Apple took you by surprise, you’re not alone. Dan Oshinsky, owner and author of Not a Newsletter, spoke with ten major ESPs following the announcement, and none of them had been expecting it or had the time to plan their reaction plan to the news.

What will happen to our open rate tracking?

While open rate tracking isn’t going away, it is going to become much more unreliable. Why the confusion? The tactics used to disguise whether an email has been opened or not are still a little unknown – some people speculate all emails will now register as unopened, with other people expecting all emails to show as opened. This disparity means open rates will likely either take a significant drop or shoot sky high, skewing all your metrics.

How will I know my audience is engaged?

If your ultimate goal is to get users to your content, include prominent CTAs (but not too many!) and track your click rate. While click rate is good for some, you may be more interested in how many people make a purchase based on an email. In that case, start tracking your conversion rate.

Judging engagement by open rates was easy, but it wasn’t always the most effective. Once you’ve decided the metrics most important to your brand, optimize your emails to attract those metrics.

Should I change my segmented lists?

Look at the lists your team is currently using and see where open rates influence your decision. If open rates play a primary role in your segmentation and interest tagging, you’ll need to make some changes. You can use several metrics to segment your audiences, such as purchase behavior, signup date, clicks, or website activity.

That said, while open rates are still at the most reliable, you may want to create a segmented list based on your current email opens. It will be necessary for your company to analyze and compare how open rates correlate to clicks, conversions, or other factors.

How am I supposed to link all of this user data together?

First-party data is your friend. While third-party cookies are on their way out, first-party data becomes even more critical with the release of iOS 15. Your ability to track a user’s journey on your website, your app, or your email is going to rely on linking these moments

How can we maintain good email list hygiene with all these changes?

Right now, use reliable open rates to your advantage. Start by looking at the audience who isn’t opening your emails and removing inactive users now. If you usually enroll them in a re-engagement campaign, you may need to step up your timeline so you can ensure you’ve narrowed your audience down to the most engaged users before September.

How can I be sure we are only sending to valid email addresses?

While considered a premium feature of iOS 15, Hide My Email generates a unique email address so users can keep their email addresses private. We don’t expect your email list to become filled with dummy email addresses; unavoidably, there will be some. If you’re not now, use a double opt-in to make sure your new subscribers are genuinely interested in hearing from your brand.

We have revenue tied to open rates – are we going to lose money?

If you have email and newsletter revenue models tied to open rates, now is the time to identify alternative methods of tracking success such as conversions, clicks, or a combination of multiple metrics. Determine the best metrics for your company and then work with your team to convert your current, open rate-based pricing over to your new metrics.

You’ll need to clearly announce the change to any of your current advertisers and make sure you’re knowledgeable on the topic. Coming from a world where the open rate was king, your advertisers will likely ask why this change is necessary, if this means they will be paying more money, or whether or not your new metrics are valuable.

Will this affect our existing automated campaigns?

For many companies, open rates are one of the frequent triggers of automated campaigns. Look at all your existing workflows and customer journeys to see where email opens factors into the launch. For those triggered by an email open, consider basing this on an alternative data point.

How will this change any integrations we use?

ESP integrations may or may not be affected by iOS 15. The extent they’re affected will rely on whether your integrations use email opens or open rate as a trigger to make a phone call or take another action. Review your existing integrations, understand the role email open rates play in these decisions, and make corrections as necessary. 

This is a lot to take in! What is the main thing I should do right now?

Focus on your key metrics: conversions and click rate. These essential metrics will not be affected by the updates and should remain key variables when testing successes or judging the effectiveness of your email campaign.

We suggest you take time before the September release to create a baseline to measure against going forward. Consider testing subject lines, send times, days of the week, and other elements while open rates are still mostly accurate.

The email landscape changes rapidly. As we all learn more, we will be sure to provide you the insights you need to deliver success.

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