Understanding Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Update

Morgan Nicholson
October 5, 2021
Learn how to adapt to the changes in email performance data by planning for Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection update.

As digital marketers, we navigate technology changes all the time. For example, now that Apple has released new privacy features in iOS 15 and Mac OS Monterey like Mail Privacy Protection, we know it's essential to understand how those features will impact email marketing holistically. 

Will Apple’s update make tracking harder? Sure. Will it make your emails any less great? Nope. Since we recently answered your SEM questions, let’s explore Apple Mail Privacy Protection and ways to prepare for it.

What Is Apple Mail Privacy Protection? 

If you're unfamiliar with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection update, it's basically a privacy feature that hides your IP address to block a sender from tracking your location, what you do online, and seeing if you've opened their email. It also prevents a sender from seeing the device you use to open their emails. 

While this sounds like a metrics nightmare for email marketers, privacy updates like these are generally positive in the long run, making it important to adapt.  

How Apple Mail Privacy Protection Impacts Emails

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection features only affect Apple Mail users, and those who’ve toggled the feature within the Mail app. So, for now, you can still track anyone using the Gmail app or others outside of the Apple ecosystem.

Depending on how many of your subscribers exercise their privacy, the impact may vary. This update will, however, cause metrics like open rates, clicks per unique open rate, geolocation, device usage, or anything else captured by IP address to become less reliable or inflated. 

Beyond reporting, Apple’s privacy update could change how you manage segments, resends, A/B tests and automations. For example, automations or resends triggered by non-openers will be a no-go for people using Mail Privacy Protection. Similarly, A/B tests based on open rates like subject lines will become slightly skewed for these users. But remember: open rates aren’t going away. They’re just becoming a little more mysterious or inflated. Metrics like clicks—not clicks per unique visitor—continue to be reliable. 

How Do I Prepare?

The best place to start is taking a look to see how many of your subscribers use Apple Mail. If you’re unfamiliar with how to do that, here’s how in Mailchimp, and here’s a reporting refresher for Klaviyo

Once you have a good sense of how many subscribers are impacted, it’s time to do a little platform housekeeping to anticipate shifty metrics. At Good & Gold, we took Mailchimp’s advice to

  • Stop placing so much emphasis on open rates—they will be inflated, and they were never very reliable. Think of open rates primarily as your tool to test subject lines and send times.
  • Start collecting location info directly from your contacts by requesting that recipients update their profiles or provide zip codes when they sign up.
  • Review audiences and make sure location data, open rates, and other criteria are used appropriately within your segments.
  • Update automations and consider how open triggers will impact flows.
  • Consider using triggers like “did not click” instead of “did not open” when resending to lists with high Apple Mail subscribers.

In a Nutshell...

As daunting as this sounds (or reads), we’re approaching this as an opportunity to continue doing what we do best: create highly engaging emails that generate revenue. 

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