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10 tips to improve deliverability & list cleaning after iOS 15

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In case you needed a reminder, email opens are dead. Well, at least they will be some time this fall.

Apple’s iOS 15 is going to bring in some privacy changes that will impact what email marketers can see about their recipients’ interaction with their emails.

The biggest change is that open rates will not reliably be communicated any more. Preliminary tests suggest that after iOS 15, Apple Mail will report 100% open rates for their users. This will have varying impacts on other parts of email marketing, but it will have a huge effect on deliverability and list cleaning. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Today we’ll show you 10 quick ways you can ensure your list is clean and active so that you can maintain or improve your deliverability after iOS 15.

Do you prefer video content? Check our video:

#1 Segment contacts now by clicks

There are roughly three to four months before iOS 15 is released. That means that marketers still have enough time to use open rates as a metric for engagement. 

However, instead of using it as the primary metric to segment their most active contacts, marketers should be using it as a secondary. The primary metric should be clicks.

This is helpful for marketers to understand how clicks correlate with engagement and the traditional open rates, and also to begin creating a habit of relying on clicks.

Think of this as a weaning period as you lessen your dependence on open rates.

#2 Track purchase behavior

Bouncing off the first tip, it’s now crucial (yes, right now) that you are tracking purchase behavior. The reason is simple:

Recent purchases are the highest form of engagement.

After all, opens are mostly measured as a probability of the next action: clicks. Clicks are measured as a probability of the next action: the purchase. 

purchase segment
An example of an Omnisend segmentation to identify customers that have purchased in the last 30 days.

All other metrics only point to that ultimate conversion, and it should be the ultimate metric you track. 

#3 Track website activity

While opens are a few steps removed from a purchase, they are nonetheless a good indication of how active your subscribers are (or how interesting your content is). 

One way to get similar feedback is by tracking website activity. People who visit your website are interested in your products or services, and are most likely willing to hear from you.

#4 Segment by subscription date

We discuss sunsetting in depth in the next point, but in general sunsetting is the process of gradually unsubscribing contacts from your list after periods of inactivity.

At the moment, this relies heavily on open rates. However, marketers will need to find different ways to identify inactive subscribers.

One way is to start creating segments based on subscription dates. Older contacts will more likely become inactive than newer subscribers, and you can start sending out automations or campaigns based on these segments.

#5 Sunset now with opens, then sunset with clicks

Before iOS 15, it’s best to use open rates while you still have access to them and start sunsetting inactive subscribers. We have a recommended schedule for sunsetting based on open rates, which you can see below:

sunsetting based on opens

After iOS 15, your sunsetting practices will need to change. You will need to dedicate time to periodically active sunsetting campaigns.

You can do this by sending your subscribers an email asking if they still want to receive communications from you. If they do, they will have to click on a button or follow a link.

Unfortunately, this means that you’ll have to say goodbye to those subscribers who don’t click on the link. This concept can be hard, but in general recipients that don’t engage with your content and don’t want to hear from you are ultimately a waste of your time, energy and money.

#6 Validate your contacts and clean your lists

It’s important to keep your lists clean in order to avoid any sort of spam traps or invalid email addresses. This goes beyond re-engagement campaigns.

For this step, which we recommend you do at least once per year, you should use a third party tool like Mailgun (recommended) or Neverbounce.

In the video above, we show you how to segment your contacts and test them against Mailgun’s validation to ensure that the email addresses don’t pose any medium or high risks to your reputation.

Because Mailgun, Neverbounce and other services are not free, we recommend that marketers start with cleaning only a part of their lists, such as those that subscribed a long time ago.

#7 Use double opt-in

Double opt-in is one great way of ensuring that the email addresses used to sign up to your newsletters are actually real. 

double opt in
An example of Omnisend’s double opt-in for signup forms

With double opt-in, the recipient signs up (the first opt-in), then has to opt in again when they receive the confirmation email.

#8 Run inbox placement checks

In order to keep a finger on the pulse of your deliverability, you should run inbox placement checks periodically. While this  cannot provide you with 100% accuracy, you’ll get a general idea of the performance of your email sends and the placement in your subscribers’ inboxes.

#9 Increase content clickability

Not everything you need to do to prepare for the iOS 15 changes will have to do with the technical aspects of email marketing.

For instance, now that opens are dead (soon), you’ll have to focus more on clicks. Now that you’re focusing more on clicks, you need to add more clickable items elements in your newsletters and automations. 

That’s how clicks will be able to better replace the opens-as-engagement metric we’ve come to rely on. 

Even more, you should be making sure your campaigns and automations are more clickable now, already, so that you can track the changes and set a benchmark that you can currently compare to open rates.

#10 Keep an eye on bad metrics

Last, but certainly not least, you should be keeping an eye out for any bad metrics, which include spam complaints, unsubscribes, and hard or soft bounces. 

bounce rate
An example report of bad metrics you can find in Omnisend’s platform

If you have a truly healthy and clean list, then these bad metrics should never be high. However, if you notice some changes with these bad metrics, you should double check your contacts for any anomalies, such as spambot attacks.

Other reasons for higher bad metrics could be that you recently made a drastic change in your content, and your subscribers don’t recognize your brand anymore.

Another reason could be that you’ve simply sent too many emails and have annoyed your subscribers. These bad metrics can really impact your deliverability, so you should be pretty fast in reacting to any changes that you notice.

Wrapping up

When it’s all said and done, the lead-up to the big iOS 15 release is an opportunity to change and grow while the conditions are still the same.

This is a great time to set benchmarks and learn what non-open metrics can help you understand your subscribers’ engagement better. With this information, you’ll be able to improve your list cleaning and overall deliverability.

To find out how Omnisend is reacting to these iOS 15 changes, be sure to check out our open letter.

And, of course, now is a great time to try out Omnisend and see how our marketing automation platform can help you build great relationships with your subscribers and customers.

Get started with Omnisend today & drive sales on autopilot with pre-built automation workflows
Bernard Meyer
Article by
Bernard Meyer

Bernard is the Sr. Director of Communications & Creative at Omnisend, with a passion for good research, helping ecommerce businesses with their marketing automation needs, and beating absolutely everyone in Mario Kart 64.