How Apple’s email privacy updates impact your not-for-profit

by Garth Stirling
January 19, 2022

Apple’s email privacy updates: How to get ahead

Email is the number one communication channel to inspire giving (and repeat giving). 59% of organisations cited email as the top ROI-generating marketing method. While direct mail tends to bring in about $7 for every dollar spent, email marketing produces $38 for every dollar spent (Campaign Monitor, 2020).

So if you haven’t prepared for the change of email privacy as we know it, you had better start now. 

Email privacy is changing, with Apple’s new Mail Privacy protection Update coming into full force this year. For organisations using EDMs (so … everyone?), this increased regulation stops you from getting key information from email sends - including whether an email has been opened or where your audiences are located.

While this news isn’t new (the update has been expected since June), many not-for-profits are playing catchup, wondering how these rules will affect their marketing now and into the future. 

Read ahead for the most up-to-date changes, and how you can still use email to grow your cause for good. 

The low down on Apple’s email privacy changes

52% of all emails are opened through Apple Mail (Litmus, 2021), so these new privacy laws are significant for almost everyone. The updates, which came into force with the September release of iOS 15, introduced strict privacy features to support better user control. 

But what exactly do they mean for you? 

From now, Apple mail will: 

  1. Block third-party tracking pixels. Pieces of code you embed to track campaign performance will be blocked for all users opening with Apple Mail. 

  2. Skew your open rates. The new update causes all emails to appear as ‘opened’, skewing your rates to 100%.

  3. Block real-time content. Delivered emails will be cached within 45 minutes, preventing updates to real-time content in the email. 

  4. Block IP addresses, stopping you from tracking user location. 

  5. Make your send-time optimisation ineffective. 

These updates are important, because the way we’ve reported on our email marketing effectiveness and gained insights to help optimise emails is becoming more difficult, as open rates can no longer be trusted. 

This is in no way the death of email as we know it, but it’s probably time to rethink your email strategy. 

Email is still a powerful tool for connecting with your supporters and raising funds for your cause. Here’s all you need to know to make the most of email with Apple’s new privacy laws:

How to change your email strategy ahead of Apple’s Mail Privacy Updates

These 4 easy quick-win steps will help you navigate Apple’s privacy changes, and help you achieve great results for your next campaign.

  1. Stop relying on open rates to measure email effectiveness. 

Conversion was always a better measure of your email campaign’s success, but now the difference matters more than ever. To gain the best possible understanding of audience engagement, track your click-through-rates like a hawk – along with signups, purchases, donations, shares and other indicators of what your audience is actually doing with your content. Google Analytics and custom UTM links are your friends now.

You can also utilise regular customer satisfaction surveys (yearly to your whole list, quarterly to segments) to get a better idea of what your audience wants from you. 

  1. Replace dynamic content with high-impact visuals

Any email content pulled from an external source will no longer update in real -time. Similarly, countdown timers based on email open time will no longer be accurate. If you’ve been relying on these to boost engagement, it’s time to switch gears. For example, try incorporating highly compelling, attention grabbing imagery instead.

  1. Rethink segmenting 

With the new changes to Apple Mail, you’ll no longer be able to segment based on IP address. But segmenting is as important as ever – maybe more so! Try segmenting based on user behavior: clicks, purchases, or donations. 

Also: make sure to keep your list clean! If you haven’t regularly been purging inactive subscribers from your mailing list, now is the time to start doing so. That’s one of the best ways to ensure your emails keep showing up in the inboxes of the people who want them.. 

  1. Make sure your automated series and reminder EDMs aren’t tied to open rates. 

If you’re sending automated or reminder emails based on open rates, you’ll want to think again. Your open rates are far less reliable now, giving you less control with follow-up emails. As an alternative, set different triggers for automated emails. And try engaging your supporters across multiple channels, including Facebook and Google ads, to persuade them to take another step with you.

Don’t panic. Email is still one of the best ways to engage your supporters.

Digital marketing is dynamic, and our platforms are always changing. That’s the excitement of digital! So instead of seeing Apple’s privacy changes as a threat to your marketing efforts, embrace the opportunity to refine your strategy and innovate. 

As a digital-first agency, we’re seeing every day how digital can help non-profits get better results and increase their impact with every new campaign. If you want to get ahead of the curve, let us know today