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The upcoming rollout of iOS 15 some time this fall means that, for the most part, open rates are dead. But, essentially, what does that mean for email marketers, or marketers in general who depend on email for conversions?
We talked with a few email experts to get their insights into the iOS 15 open rate debacle, as well as how marketers should respond.
Jaina Mistry, Sr. Manager of Email Marketing at Litmus, told Omnisend that iOS 15 and the introduction of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection are “a wake-up call for email marketers and a catalyst for change in email marketing.”
Mandi Moshay, Director of Retention for Common Thread Collective agreed, telling Omnisend that “iOS 15 marks a big turning point for email marketers.”
While the open rate is a metric that is relatively easy to move away from, “there’s so much within a healthy email program that’s reliant on open data that will have to be pivoted, including mailing segments, automated triggers, branching logic within automations, and list hygiene, to name a few.”
‘Marketers should be prepared’
Because of these big changes, both Moshay and Mistry are telling email marketers to start getting their strategies ready now.
“Marketers should be prepared to stay nimble in this ever-changing landscape,” Moshay says. She recommends that marketers act now so that by fall, when iOS 15 is released, they can be ready to make that change.
“Before iOS 15 it’s important to run an account audit to get an understanding of where you’re relying on open or IP data to power your program. Pivot your reporting as well to ensure you have historic baselines that don’t use open data so you’re clear on what success and growth look like in an open-less future.”
Mistry tells Omnisend that marketers can use tools like Litmus’ Email Analytics to understand their current audience makeup to, for example, see the open rate data for Apple Mail recipients. “With that data under your belt, email marketers can understand if this update will impact their email program and then form a plan to handle the change.”
Moshay also recommends that marketers use open rate data now to set benchmarks. “We’d also recommend prioritizing testing that will give you directional insights for subject lines, time of day, and day of week for deployments before we lose open data as a metric for defining success.”
The idea that this pivot needs to happen now is shared amongst most email marketing experts. Mistry suggests that email marketers start incorporating conversions into their campaign metrics, if they aren’t already doing so:
“If you don’t already, reframe what success is for your email campaigns to move away solely from email engagement towards email engagement AND conversions. How many subscribers click and register for a webinar, or download a piece of content, sign up for your services, or did the action you wanted them to do because of the email you sent?”
In any case, now is the time to act. “The sooner marketers can adjust toward this new reality, the better,” Moshay tells Omnisend. “If you wait until September you’ll be behind the curve right when your focus should be on BFCM.”
The future of privacy, tech giants and email marketing
When looking ahead at what is down the road after iOS 15, one question seems natural: will there be any more surprises down the road?
While Mistry recognizes that there’s fear that other providers like Google will follow suit, which she’s unsure about, it seems clear to Moshay that marketers need to be prepared for even more changes.
“We’ve seen a recent wave of privacy legislation in GDPR and CCPA,” she tells Omnisend, “and I would expect more changes to come that dictate how email marketers can collect, store, and use data, whether that’s handed down from the state/federal level or through other platform providers.”
However, Moshay reminds marketers, it seems to be getting harder for PPC marketers and those who deal with digital advertisement than email marketers.
“The impact of privacy changes on email marketers is pale in comparison to the rollercoaster our counterparts in paid ads are facing. Building relationships on permission-based channels like email and SMS can help to future-proof your brand against the changing whims of big tech. The insane ROI is just icing on the cake.”
Nonetheless, all these changes present an opportunity for faster, more adaptable marketers to stand out from the crowd.
“The Wild West days of digital appear to be coming to an end,” Moshay says, “but I am excited at the potential for marketers to get more creative in their efforts to win customers and build relationships—through fulfillment, experiences, concierge services, creative rewards for loyalty, etc.—even if these efforts are difficult to measure and scale.”