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iOS 15: Apple Mail privacy updates –  Implications for online businesses and Fresh Relevance’s approach

July 13th 2022

Mike Austin

By Mike Austin

CEO & Co-founder

Apple Mail privacy updates

June 2021 has seen a series of new privacy updates from Apple, including the announcement of their Mail Privacy Protection initiative. These measures are designed to protect the privacy of the end-user. The changes will help users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and mask their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.

These changes will affect users who use iMail as their email client and have opted-in to Mail Privacy Protection. Given the wording of the opt-in, industry experts are predicting a near 90% opt-in rate.

Apple Mail Privacy Protection opt-in notice

Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple said, “Every year, we push ourselves to develop new technology to help users take more control of their data and make informed decisions about whom they share it with.” And with growing consumer concerns over privacy and the so-called cookie apocalypse on the horizon, these updates perhaps come as no surprise.

Read on to learn more about the potential implications for online businesses and how Fresh Relevance clients can continue to succeed amidst the changes.

Invisible Pixels and Live Content

Invisible Pixels allow marketers to know when their emails have been opened. With the Apple Mail privacy updates, invisible pixels will be banned, meaning marketers will no longer have this ability and what’s more, it will seem as though every email sent to an opted-in Apple device has been opened.

This means if your ESP or dynamic image provider charges you per impression, you may end up being significantly overcharged for phantom opens, as well as having implications for those who measure open-rates and send-time optimization.

Live email content – content that populates at time of open rather than time of send – will also be affected.

The upcoming changes mean that most email content will no longer be loaded at open-time within Apple Mail, which will have implications for the use of live content in emails to recipients using Apple Mail who have opted-in to the privacy updates.

As such, it’s more important than ever to have a real understanding of your customer profiles to ensure your personalized content is as accurate as possible before send.

Fresh Relevance’s approach

Fresh Relevance provides unlimited opens at no additional cost, so you can continue to send to your audience without worrying about a huge bill.

Email content powered by Fresh Relevance will be generated between send time and open time within Apple Mail. We will encourage many of our customers to throttle their send-times to afford them the opportunity to A/B test effectively. We also suggest that email marketers avoid sending emails overnight, but instead choose a time when recipients are actively using their Apple devices to reduce or eliminate the impact of Apple’s changes.

Fresh Relevance uses a wealth of real-time customer data to empower our clients to deliver one-to-one experiences at scale. With Fresh Relevance, your segments will always be up to date with real-time behavioral and transactional data and you can gain a better understanding of your customers through audience analytics. This means you’ll be able to craft personalized emails that resonate with each customer, without the need to rely on live content.

Learn more about behavioral targeting with Fresh Relevance.

Example of personalized product recommendations in marketing email

Fresh Relevance provides a marketing rule which let you swap out time-based or location-based content when it is opened. For example, if you use a countdown timer in an email, you could use a marketing rule to replace that with a banner if the email is opened by the Apple Mail Proxy.

A note on caching

If dynamic content goes out with the same URL for every email in a batch, Apple may load the corresponding image once and every recipient will see this one image loaded from Apple’s cache. If you don’t want this (for example if your business rules should result in 50% seeing one image and 50% seeing another), you’ll need to make sure there is something unique in the URL to defeat caching, for example the query collection could include e=email address or eid=unique ID.

Location-based content

Location-based content helps you engage your recipients by tailoring the experience based on where they’re located, ensuring that they see offers most relevant to their current context.

The Apple updates will have implications for technology that relies on opening IP addresses for location-based content, which have long been viewed as invasive in the industry.

Fresh Relevance’s approach

Since email IP geotargeting is notoriously unreliable, Fresh Relevance has always given our clients many more accurate and ethical ways of understanding a recipient’s location, including website IP tracking and integrations into CRMs (think delivery address). This means with Fresh Relevance, you’ll still be able to engage subscribers who use Apple Mail with location-based content, regardless of the privacy updates.

If the images in a message are opened by the Apple Mail proxy, Fresh Relevance detects the Apple proxy and ignores any IP data from there, to avoid locating them to a data center. Fresh Relevance will then follow the normal process of looking at other locations we have for that person, for example from previous web behavior or from uploaded postal address data.

If that’s still not enough, you could also replace the location-based content with a banner using the Fresh Relevance marketing rule.

Example of location-based content in marketing email

At Fresh Relevance, we’re passionate about helping our clients succeed with personalization whilst protecting consumers’ right to privacy and transparency.

As big proponents of online privacy we welcome the changes Apple are making and look forward to these becoming industry standard, as the banning of third-party cookies has become. Over the past years we’ve steadily reduced our reliance on these styles of tracking and this in turn means that the effects of these changes for Fresh Relevance customers are relatively minimal.

Want to learn more about how the Apple Mail privacy updates will affect you and how Fresh Relevance can help? Book a free demo to chat to one of our personalization experts and see the platform in action.

Book a free demo to find out how we can help your business succeed

Mike Austin

By Mike Austin

CEO & Co-founder

Mike Austin is co-founder and CEO at Fresh Relevance. Recognizing the challenge of data aggregation in the ecommerce space, Mike launched Fresh Relevance in 2013 with co-founders Eddy Swindell and Pete Austin to solve this need and optimize the customer journey.