When Apple announced Mail Privacy Protection, earlier this year, it threw marketers into a bit of a frenzy. No one knew exactly what the effects of the new feature would be, but we knew it’d change the way we thought about and reported email marketing metrics.
The announcement had shades of GDPR, for those in the digital marketing world who were around to remember it. And while it seems like MPP’s effects won’t be as broad, the feature still has wide-ranging implications for the future of email.
While a lot of marketers will mourn the loss of data like opens and geographic location, we’d argue that MPP is actually going to be a good thing for everyone involved in the email marketing industry.
How Mail Privacy Protection effects marketers
If you’ve heard the terms Mail Privacy Protection, MPP, or iOS 15 tossed around the past few months, but aren’t sure what they actually mean don’t worry! We’ll catch you up really quick.
In September, Apple released its new software update, iOS 15. And with it came a new feature: Mail Privacy Protection.
In short, MPP does two things:
- Effectively disables open tracking
- Obscures the user’s IP address, removing an email marketer’s ability to know their location
For more on how it works, make sure to check out our guide. But to understand what the feature actually does, those are the two things you need to know.
Now, while that might not sound too bad, there are some serious implications for email marketers. The first and most obvious implication is that MPP makes open rate tracking far less reliable, putting the future of open rates as a metric in serious jeopardy. And as if changing our metrics and reporting wasn’t enough, it also means you’ll probably want to rethink any automated journeys you have set up that have automation steps based on whether or not a person opens an email.
While the loss of geographic data might not seem quite as drastic, there are a lot of marketers who depend on that data for list segmentation purposes. For instance, if you plan on sending different emails to different subscribers based on location, that becomes a bit trickier. Rather than relying on collecting that data automatically, you’ll now have to ask your users for it first-hand.
Losing this data also means that send time optimization — a popular feature among ESPs — will be less dependable, as it won’t have location data for a lot of users.
Why this is good for the future of email
This doesn’t exactly sound like a win for marketers, does it? While we’d agree that the loss of some data and functionality is inconvenient, we do think MPP will ultimately be a good thing for the future of email.
How? Because MPP will force marketers to focus on the experience they’re creating, not optimize their campaigns for hollow metrics like open rate.
With all of the email marketing metrics available to us, it’s become too easy for marketers to define success by top-line metrics like open rate. While those metrics are helpful, they’re not the end goal.
Our hope with MPP is that marketers will feel less compelled to write a deceiving subject line that overpromises and underdelivers on what’s actually inside the email, and more compelled to deliver value and enhance their subscriber experience every chance they get.
And hey, by focusing more on the experience you’re creating with email and the value you’re giving your subscribers, odds are, your metrics will probably all start to look better anyway. Funny how that works 😉
How to focus on the user experience in your email marketing
So, what does it actually mean to focus on the experience when it comes to email?
Don’t be deceptive with your subject lines or CTAs
Like we mentioned, it’s easy to feel compelled to write deceptive, overpromising subject lines or calls-to-action for the sake of seeing higher open rates or click rates. But ultimately, when subscribers catch on to the fact that you’re consistently letting them down with your actual content, they won’t keep coming back.
To be clear, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t follow best practices and make your subject lines and CTAs clear and engaging. We’re just saying that you shouldn’t try and boost your stats at the expense of your subscribers. If you can’t make the content of your email or the content you’re linking to compelling without lying about it, you probably shouldn’t send it in the first place.
Align your email goals to business goals, not just metrics
While email-specific metrics like open rate are a helpful proxy for success, they’re not the definition for success itself. We don’t just send email so that people open it — we do it do contribute to larger marketing and business goals, like website visits, purchases, or revenue generated.
Now that metrics like open rate and click-to-open-rate (CTOR) are out the window, it’s time to start re-thinking how we are going to define success with email. And in doing so, it’s also a good time to make sure your email marketing strategy is based around your broader business goals.
Focus on adding value
Let’s be honest, most marketing emails just feel like noise. Inboxes are crowded, and users are constantly scanning through to decipher what’s important and what’s not.
So, what’s the key to being one of the names that people look out for? Consistently add value to your subscribers.
This will mean different things to different types of people and businesses, but a good question to ask before sending a marketing email is whether or not you have a reason to be in their inbox. If you don’t, and you’re just sending for the sake of sending, then it’s probably best to rethink it.
Begin with the end in mind
When crafting a campaign or a single marketing email, it’s important to have your end goal in mind when you start. What, exactly, do you want to teach your subscriber, tell them, direct them to? Knowing what action you want them to take before starting will help inform all of the decisions you make when creating your actual campaign, leading to a better email experience for everybody.
Apple threw the email marketing world for a loop when they suddenly announced Mail Privacy Protection earlier this year. And while it may have sounded scary at first, marketers will adapt (just like they have with every other major tech update), and ultimately, we think they’ll be better off for it.
Here’s to hoping MPP brings a new focus on the experience that marketers create for their subscribers.