With the release of Apple's iOS 15 and Mac OS Monterey comes a new privacy feature called Mail Privacy Protection. It's a significant change by Apple that will result in email providers:

  • Not knowing whether or not an email has been opened

  • Where a subscriber is located when they open emails

  • The type of device and client a subscriber is using when they open it.

With users being prompted to enable Mail Privacy Protection we assume this will essentially be the default for all subscribers using Apple Mail.

Though this is a significant change it's important to note that:

  • All emails will continue to be delivered as normal to Apple Mail

  • Click tracking is unaffected and will still be reported for users who use Apple Mail

This article will cover a few common questions regarding the change.

Will opens not be reported from Apple Mail users?

To track emails currently, SmartrMail places a tiny transparent image (1x1 pixel) into each email campaign. When the pixel is loaded by your subscriber's inbox we can count that as an open and report it. We can also get the IP address and device information which enables us to report a subscriber location and device.

If a subscriber has Apple Mail Privacy Protection on, Apple will will load our pixel remotely whether or not a subscriber has opened the email. This will report an open and results in unreliable open data. The IP address is also proxied so location data is no longer reliable. Device data isn't reported.

Simply this means that all emails to Apple Mail users will seemingly appear to be opened which will over report opens and make that metric unreliable.

Does this affect email opened in any other apps?

No. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature only applies to Apple Mail users for now using a @icloud.com or other apple provided email address.

We are monitoring to see if this affects other email accounts like Gmail that are integrated into the Apple Mail app.

How does this impact my SmartrMail account?

We anticipate impacts to your SmartrMail account from Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection feature.

  • Email stats might report distorted open rates higher than they actually are.

  • Subscriber location data may be incorrect.

  • Send Boost will send to less contacts as all Apple Mail contacts will appear to have opened the email

  • The results of A/B tests on subject lines may be inaccurate

  • List cleaning won't be as effective as all Apple Mail subscribers will appear to be engaged

While open rate data is affected, clicks and purchases are better indicators of how your email is performing and you should default to tracking these to benchmark the success of your campaign.

How is SmartrMail responding to the changes

We're closely monitoring the data over the next month before making any drastic changes to how we report open rates. However as we covered in our iOS 15 Webinar we do have planned changes that will roll out towards the end of October. These include:

  • Estimated open rates: As we get more data on what Apple Mail opens will look like we'll start filtering them out of open reporting and instead report an estimated open rate based on non Apple Mail opens

  • Subscriber ratings: We'll soon release new subscriber ratings that you can use to clean your list based on a holistic view of opens and clicks.

  • Sales tracking: We'll be releasing an option to attribute your sales based on whether a subscriber receives and clicks an email within 7 days

For more info we recommend to read our blog post or watch our webinar recording:

iOS 15: Upcoming Changes to Email Marketing You Need to Know

Webinar: iOS 15 Survival Guide

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