Apple Mail Privacy Protection: What Marketers Can Do Now and the Permanent Changes Ahead

We recently wrote about Apple’s announcement of their Apple Mail Privacy Protection feature and how it changes the information shared to marketers about how customers interact with emails. In a nutshell, the masking of open activity by users, limits marketers’ ability to track open rate for audiences that are using a native Apple Mail application on Apple devices (regardless of the email domain (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.)). While the loss of this metric will have impact, email continues to be an important channel for marketers. 

Steps marketers can take now

While we don’t know the exact date for the launch of Apple Mail Privacy Protection, it looks like it will be coming in September 2021. There are a few things marketers can do now that will position them to better weather the impact on their email programs.  

1) Know your benchmarks

Look at the database of Apple users and benchmark metrics like opens and clicks. This will give clear data to work with after the launch and inform any changes to the program as a result.  

2) Clean up the database

Deliverability will likely rely more on interactions like clicks and conversions, so making sure there is a responsive audience now might help maintain a good sender reputation once the open rate goes away. 

3) Perform some analysis on your historical Subject Line data

If you have been diligent about testing, then you have a good amount of data to review and be able to identify some themes/phrasing that drove lifts in open rates for your campaigns.  Take note of winning attributes by campaign type to leverage as you continue post implementation.    

 Some Strategies May No Longer Be Effective

In recent years, there have been innovations like various widgets that depended on tracking pixels for things like personalizing location or device type. These options will be limited once Apple Mail Privacy Protection is launched:  
  • Emails with dynamic content that changes depending on when it is opened might not work as intended. For example, offer expiration countdowns, or local store hours remaining to shop.  
  • Optimizing send time based on opens will no longer work for this segment. Instead, marketers will need to look at interactions like clicks or conversions.  
  • Automated messaging that is triggered based on open/non-open logic may not activate as intended when launched.  Review your triggered experiences with these dependencies and think about alternative engagement, like clicks, to use for messaging activation.  

The Most Important Metric: Engagement

The overarching goal should be to have an engaged, active audience for email messages, and there are several strategies and tactics that can help increase engagement.  
  • Calls to action

As clicks become a more weighted engagement metric, effective CTAs will be key. Use A/B testing on language, colors, placement, buttons, see what gets the most responses. 
  • Personalization

To increase clicks and conversions, increase personalization throughout. Using first-party segmentation data, transaction history, website behaviors or third-party enrichment attributes can all inform content and messaging strategy to drive your objectives.  Real-time content and message testing is key to optimize for greatest engagement performance.  
  • Triggered messages

Emails based on specific customer actions or milestones are more relevant and get better engagement and response rates than batch and blast emails. Create messages based on customer behaviors or demographics. To name a few, this can include welcome series, cart and browse abandonment, product replenishment, lead nurture, quick start guides, events like birthdays, or even the anniversary of the day they signed up for marketing emails. 
  • Omnichannel marketing

Email should be fully integrated into the marketing mix as one of many channels for communication. Leveraging additional channels like website personalization, social channels, mobile and app messaging, and more can help brands create a more holistic experience that drives better business outcomes  

Email will continue to evolve and inspire innovation so brands can deliver the best experience for their subscribers and customers. This change is an important reminder that it’s all about knowing your customer and delivering the best possible customer experience. Zeta is committed to supporting our clients through these changes to help them reach their marketing goals.


Thanks for your interest in Zeta. To see a demo please complete the form.

Thank you!

Your request has been sent. We will be in touch with you shortly.