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iOS15 Upgrade Shows False Open Rate in Emails

Oct 06, 2021

Apple's new release of iOS15 from September will affect the results in your email reports - suddenly the opening rate will show much higher figures. How does this affect companies and what do you need to do to keep measuring relevant data?

You may have seen the news that your e-mail reports will be affected by the new iOS15 release from Apple, released September 21. If not, we recommend that you read this text. In this article, we describe what has changed and how it will affect your customer communication work.

What happened with iOS15?

In its new upgrade, iOS15, Apple added an email privacy protection functionality. Everyone who upgrades the operating system is asked if they want to receive emails sent to them based on tracking data managed via their Apple Mail app (Apple's own email client).

If users say no, which many believe they will do, Apple will no longer provide third-party e-mail solutions such as Voyado, Hubspot or Pardot with information about whether the email has been opened or not. Instead, it will be reported that all emails have been opened, regardless of whether those who received the emails have actually opened them.

This means that the open rate in your e-mail campaign reports will artificially increase, making it an irrelevant KPI to monitor for the time being.

How many customers will use email privacy protection?

It is difficult to say how many customers this applies to, for several reasons. According to Voyado Litmus, it is estimated that about 50% of customers use Apple's email client on phone, computer or iPad. However, not everyone upgrades their operating systems directly, so the figure may change. In addition, this only applies to those who use Apple's email client, ie. this does not apply to those who have iOS15 but use e.g. Gmail or the Outlook app.

image-pngHow will your company be affected by email privacy protection?

Your e-mail reports will be affected. From September 21 and three months ahead, while users upgrade their operating systems, you will see an increase in the Open rate. As the Open rate increases, your CTR (Click Through Rate) will decrease. Open rate will no longer be valid as a KPI.

What does your customer communication team need to do? 

  • Rethink your current KPIs linked to email campaigns. Focus on other KPIs such as clicks and purchases.
  • Investigate if you have automations in workflows based on the Open rate. E.g. reminder emails that are sent to those who have not opened an email in a number of days, or data cleaning based on activity where the opening rate is a parameter.
  • Review segments where Open rate is a criterion
  • Review A/B tests that are measured on Open rate. These tests are often focused on the subject line of the email. Measure clicks or other interactions instead.

What else can you do?

  • Work with other customer attributes to get to know the customer, e.g. visitor behavior on the site as well as in physical stores, demographic data and heatmaps
  • Make sure you measure what the customer clicks and what they put in the shopping cart, to better understand their purchase journey. 
  • Work with control groups in all e-mail campaigns to measure results
  • Develop a strategy for working with test scenarios as a complement to A/B tests

Last but not least - customers still open emails. What we describe here only applies to a small part of the recipients. Focus on your goals and what you can actually measure. Set other KPIs. Increased email open rate will be the norm in a few months. 



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