Marketing Strategy Digital Marketing

Apple Just Called Bluff on "Email Open Rates"

By Jen Neumann on December, 10 2021
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With recent changes to Apple’s privacy and security safeguards, those who relied on “Email Opens” as a key success metric are left holding a soggy bag of Thanksgiving leftovers. 

In mid-September (2021), the company rolled out sweeping user privacy changes. Historically, these changes take about four months to be adopted by about 80% of Apple users—an enviable adoption rate for a tech company. 

With your last phone update, you may have noticed that your device prompted you to enact new privacy settings. Among these settings are ways to mask your activity, location and information from marketers. While still in beta as of the time of this posting, expect these changes to become widespread — and soon. Some marketers are already seeing the effects in their reporting. 

For those who run email marketing campaigns, it means that your “open rate,” which was a poor metric to start with, is going to be bloated now that Apple will pre-open user emails who enable the new security and privacy setting. 

How will this impact reporting on email marketing campaigns?

  • For B2B emails, this will show open rates rising an average of 30% higher, with no actual increase in engagement. 
  • For B2C lists, that number will be higher as they are more likely to be reaching consumers with iPhones. Early estimates predict open rates will rise by 50%, again with no increase in clicks, purchases or inquiries.

Other changes you may notice if you're using an integrated CRM platform:

  • Hidden IP addresses: while you may have been able to get a clear picture of where your target audiences are (literally) coming from, that will become a little murkier and more regionally represented.
  • Hide my email: Apple creates and attaches unique emails (they look like gibberish) to user activities (think replies and click-throughs) that will look like several different contacts performing an isolated activity, even though it may be a single contact. 

This might feel frustrating to some, but open rates haven’t been a reliable metric since email marketing went mainstream. These changes push marketing teams to dig deeper for more engaging content and rethink what they ask of their audiences. 

This isn’t something that Apple broke for marketers. These changes are a direct result of bad behaviors like selling user email addresses and spamming, failure to respect opt-outs, and practices that mine information inappropriately. And where Apple goes, so goes the rest of the tech world. 

Permission-based marketing is more important now than ever. This shift puts the emphasis where it should be: good, quality content that is helpful to the end-user. Marketers who are integrated with sales, service and operation have an opportunity to personalize and drive better engagement by restructuring what happens when someone receives their email. 

A few ways to increase and measure engagement:

Monitor the inbox: Ditch the “no-reply@” email. For that matter, don’t say in your footer or auto-reply email that, “This email is not monitored.” If you're concerned that you'll receive too many inquiries or responses, enact automation that routes replies to the appropriate department based on content. Just don’t let this opportunity to engage directly with your audience slip by. 

Refine click-through opportunities: Make your calls-to-action (CTAs) clear and offer opportunities to engage beyond the “shop now” or “read more” buttons or links. Give more options to ask questions, link directly to chat or click to call, and encourage replies. 


I can't say it enough. If you aren't using an integrated CRM you are leaking data. A good CRM/Marketing platform can help you make sense of insights from your campaigns and allow your sales team to nurture prospects through the sales funnel more efficiently. So ditch the bargain email marketing platforms, start using better insights, and integrate AI/automation to enable your team to drive better results.

Not sure where to start? Hit that button below to start a conversation with us, and we'll put you on the right track.


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