Why your email strategy should change in 2023

About Mail Privacy Performance (MPP). 

Imagine thinking you have above industry-average email performance, only to find that your content is not converting at all.

This is largely in part due to Mail Privacy Performance (MPP) on Apple devices, that pre-downloads emails and email images to each device, regardless of whether or not the user opens and reads the message — artificially inflating open rates. It is to protect users’ privacy, but it makes it really difficult for marketers and fundraisers to know whether their emails have been opened. 

And with 52% of all marketing emails being opened through Apple Mail — and upwards of 90% of Apple users, who have opted into MPP, it means these strict privacy laws have changed email as we know it.

As explained by Apple (Apple, 2021):

“Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.” 

How does this affect your organisation?  

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

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

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

  • Blocks IP addresses. This will prevent you from tracking your users’ location. 

  • Make your send-time optimisation ineffective. 

But don’t fear. These changes aren’t the be all and end all for email. In fact they should sharpen your email strategy for 2023 even more, and increase the effectiveness and performance of the highest ROI digital channel there is.   

Our recommendations for adjusting your email strategy in 2023

  1. Change how you  measure performance, from open rate to conversion rate

Up until now, most organisations have been relying on open rates to measure an email’s effectiveness. However, with MPP coming onto the scene, it’s more important than ever to change that up. 

To get a better understanding of your email’s success, look at its conversion rate instead. Track click-through rate to understand audience engagement — along with sign-ups, donations, shares and more. And don’t be afraid to make use of Google Analytics and UTMs.

Open rates should also be considered, but only after benchmarking. Remember, conversion and click-through rates will now be your best friends. They are by far the most important indicators of success, as they always have been. 

  1. Create a new benchmark for your your emails. 

MPPs have made it extremely difficult to understand who is truly opening your organisation’s emails. That’s why it’s important to create a benchmark so that you can gauge and estimate your organisation's estimate and make adjustments accordingly. 

Track your open rates over a three to six-month period — and once your open rate is steady, you can use that figure as your benchmark. You can then compare your open rate to that number. 

  1. How to know when A/B tests succeed 

A/B subject line testing involves comparing two variations of emails with different subject lines to a small portion of your email list. Often, the success of the two emails is determined by the subject line that receives a higher open rate — with the winning email being sent to the rest of the list automatically. 

However, with MPP impacting the reliability of open rates, you can no longer rely on this metric when it comes to A/B testing. So spice it up! And adjust your test goal to increase click rates.

  1. Say goodbye to Non-opener Resend (NOR)

Non-opener resend was a tactic where organisations sent the same email (with a new subject line) to anyone who didn’t open the original email. This used to be a great tactic, but with MPP its accuracy is limited. We recommend either scrapping this tactic or segmenting iOS users to not use NORs with them.

  1. Make your emails interactive 

Due to MPP, it is more important than ever for you to understand who is actually clicking on your emails. 

You can do this by integrating content that encourages that interaction within your emails to help drive clicks. Whether it’s a poll, call-to-action links in pre-header texts and more, these features could help you accurately determine the number of people engaging with your content — completely bypassing MPP. 

  1. Include great content (obviously!)

A great email strategy has always been about great content. 

When readers invite you into their inboxes, it is up to you to make their time worth their while. To respect that invitation, you must offer value in exchange for their time and the best way you can do that is to deliver truly meaningful, relevant and engaging content — content they want to read. 

The best way you can do that is by listening to them and understanding their interests — or in other words, what makes them click. When ask them to participate in surveys or polls, you should listen, too! 

Despite all these updates and changes, email remains the ROI king! 

MPP is not the end of the world and small changes can ensure you still have an effective, measurable email strategy. But MPP has forced us to really look at what to measure and why it matters — and to focus on building great content that gets clicks, instead of snappy subject lines that get opens but no action. It’s all about substance, not form.