The Apple Email Tracking Block – And a new strategy for your email analytics

This is one of those times when a slew of Apple announcements isn’t met by only shrieks of excitement, but also by yells of despair from marketers. As announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), a few of the updates regarding increased privacy of email tracking as well as the new iOS 15 update which brings transparency of personal data usage. It also brings a bit of fear to marketers who worry about the abrupt disruption of a tool that we’ve seen as nothing short of being one of the most effective and indispensable channels available to marketers.

You may already know that marketing emails often have pixels or images that relay information back to analytics, as to when, where, and how many times an email has been opened. Apple though has announced that when the updates take effect, the iPhone and Mac’s mail client will hide the device’s IP addresses when messages are opened – which will hide if, when, and where emails are opened.

This if, when, and where constitute vital data for targeting – and the oncoming unavailability has already caused mass hysteria among marketing circles and forums (take a look at the reactions here, here & here (The verge, Search Engine Journal, Tech Crunch, BBC). Does this mean you should be worrying too? Let’s take a more detailed look.

Why you should worry

As we’ve spoken about, email marketing isn’t just a channel – it’s an institution in itself. Email marketing has become a boon for experienced digital marketers and the new immigrants to the digital landscape alike. So much so that it’s become the most-used channel for marketing with a staggering potential of 4400% ROI – that’s $44 for every $1 spent.

The Apple update could upset this very gratuitous statistic and change the ROI and performance of email marketing, by making DIY segmentation and targeted messages more difficult. But how much will this change? The effect could honestly vary. Much depends on the details of the updates which haven’t been released, and also on the actual impact when it does roll out.

Another factor to maybe worry about – will other email providers like Google and Microsoft follow suit?

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Why you shouldn’t worry so much

The new update would only apply to those that use Apple’s email client which makes up 38.9%(apple iPhone) & 11.5%(apple mail) of the market. This means that marketers would most probably be affected only by not having access to a niche, and can still play around within the larger universe of email marketing. With the new privacy feature being a paid add-on and it being a hassle to use across a variety of devices, some experts have also commented that there may be a low take-up and might remain as just a ‘fringe activity’.

Not to mention that tracking via IP addresses too has been on the way out for quite a while now. As one of the oldest mechanisms for location targeting and cross-device measurement, IP address tracking has long come under heavy scrutiny by regulatory authorities all over the world. With already being considered as personally identifiable information in Europe, and as personal data under the CCPA – the status of IP targeting as an advertising identifier is precarious and a very creepy method. With someone’s IP address and some imagination, you could actually identify and find that person (see The Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Office’s research on this). Not to mention, being incredibly unwieldy and inaccurate too, thanks to VPNs.

The way forward & through

As we’ve seen in recent times, the new and increased regulations have come about in response to users demanding more privacy in using their data. While this may seem an inconvenience to marketers, it allows for building a better, safer, and more cohesive brand experience for consumers.

But how exactly could this happen? Marketers can still see a very fruitful way to make email marketing work for them with audiences using Apple’s email client. By using Meiro CDP in conjunction with your emailing platform – a solution could help marketers see the analytics they absolutely need, without coming across as stalking their recipients.

Using Meiro CDP – instead of tracking mail opens via IP, you could use decorated links instead – to detect that an action was taken from a specific email. Take for example, if through the emailing platform, you would send an email to [email protected] You could in CDP immediately tag this email with an ID 123. Then in the email body, you could include a link pointing to the website of the customer with the ID 123 as a parameter: example.com?utm_term=123.

Apple email tracking

Then, when the recipient clicks on the link and arrives at the website with Meiro Events – it would track the link and extract the ID from the UTM parameter. Profile stitching would connect all the dots together and you could know when and if the recipient clicked on the link, and arrived at the website.

This method would cover most use-cases for marketers allowing to calculate ROI for the email marketing component of a campaign, and by connecting it to the bigger picture via profile stitching – could make for a new, improved and more ethical manner of targeting.

Conclusion

With each passing year and each round of updates, tech companies are only going to crack down harder on traditional tracking practices, which could disrupt your marketing performance in myriad ways. With Meiro CDP on your side, you would have a solid base that is flexible enough to evolve, accommodate and surpass such changes and then to protect your business interests.

Want to know more about how Meiro CDP can amp up your email marketing or even your data strategy? Give us a ping and we’ll catch up over a coffee soon!

If this article got you thinking, get in touch!

Manish Gambhir

Business Solution Manager Manish is a hardcore adtech and martech industry professional. There are a very few technical problems that baffle him, as chances are he has tackled them before. Manish takes care of Meiro's partnerships and drives a network of Meiro's friends, partners and cooperators.
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