On June 7, Apple hosted its World Wide Developer Conference, an annual event often used as a platform to announce new products and updates. On Keynote, Apple revealed more details about what users and businesses can expect from iOS 15, the latest software update for the iPhone and iPad operating system.
While some of these changes will benefit everyone, others are intended to benefit the user – and protect their privacy – in a way that in turn will shake up the marketing landscape and affect how advertising professionals can monitor, collect and measure important user data.
Today, we discuss the iOS 15 update, what it means for you, and how you can mitigate damage to your marketing strategy when it launches this fall.
What does the iOS 15 update contain?
A wide range of new features were discussed with the upcoming iOS rollout, from redesigning Safari, Maps and Messaging to FaceTime functionality enhancements. And while these caused some tension, the changes that stalled the market world were the various privacy features that will soon take effect.
In recent years, there has been a strong public backlash against technology companies harvesting user data. Apple addressed this prevailing mood in April with the release of iOS 14.5, which allowed users to prevent apps from tracking their ad targeting activities. While activity tracking has always been aimed at improving the user experience, only 4% of users have chosen to let their apps track them.
Clearly, Apple users value their privacy over targeted ad content – Apple quickly took notice.
The tech giant leaned even more into this movement with their own privacy-focused advertising and additional updates that will impact several major aspects of the marketing funnel, particularly with regard to email marketing services.
iOS15 Privacy Updates
Following the release of iOS 15, Apple SVP for Software Engineering Craig Federighi had this to say:
Confidentiality has been central to our work at Apple from the very beginning. Every year, we push ourselves to develop new technology to help users take more control of their data and make informed decisions about who they share it with. This year’s updates include innovative features that give users a deeper insight and more detailed control than ever before.
These privacy features were primarily related to email, with two main aspects to consider.
# 1 Mail Privacy Protection (MPP)
While Apple has relied on Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) to protect Safari users for years, the latest iOS iteration strengthens ITP by hiding user IP addresses from trackers. This change makes it impossible to exploit the user’s IP addresses to track a person across multiple sites, making it more difficult to design a complete and useful user profile.
With the Mail app, the MPP feature protects everyone by preventing senders from using invisible pixels to collect user data. Emails are first downloaded and opened via a proxy server. Thanks to the software update, senders no longer know when an email has been opened unless the iPhone user selects this type of tracking.
This is likely to result in three major changes to marketing metrics:
All emails are “opened” in advance as they are filtered through the proxy server and show inflated and inaccurate open rates. All images are “pre-rendered” and a copy is made, which is sent to the Apple Privacy Cache with the IP address of the general region rather than the exact geographic location. IP addresses will be inaccurate, thus preventing detailed location or time zone targeting.
# 2 iCloud Plus
iCloud Plus is an upgrade to Apple’s cloud storage service, built to keep photos, documents, and notes secure, up-to-date, and available on all Apple devices. As part of the new subscription service, there are several privacy features, including:
iCloud Private Relay – Similar to a VPN for iCloud subscribers, this encrypts user activity on Safari and hides both network traffic and IP addresses from visited websites. Each user request is sent via two separate Internet relays. The first gives the iPhone user an anonymous IP address. The other server decrypts the URL and then sends it to the correct destination.
The decentralized operating system is neither controlled nor visible by Apple. In addition, the server cannot identify individual users. Finally, Private Relay will also eliminate “fingerprints” that allow companies to track your dedicated IP address anywhere on the Internet. For ISPs and third-party data brokers, Private Relay encryption will affect their ability to collect and sell user browser data.
Hide My Email – To prevent email spam and create an extra layer of anonymity, Hide My Email creates burner accounts that allow users to “share unique, random email addresses that are forwarded to their personal inbox , anytime they want to keep their personal email address private. “This functionality is built into:
It also lets users create and delete as many addresses as they want. Finally, the new feature allows consumers to sign up for new accounts or email lists with proxy emails rather than entering personal email addresses.
What do these iOS privacy updates mean?
For marketers, iOS 15 seems to be bringing a whole new status quo to the table. They can no longer rely on some of the most effective activity tracking and engagement analysis techniques. As a result, the way and measurement of success must change – in at least two major ways.
# 1 Delivery ability Health
When it comes to email, it may be time to rethink how we interpret delivery capability. Previously, open rates were indicative of a list’s health for multiple tasks. But these changes in iOS are likely to affect several aspects of email marketing campaigns.
The following standard practices will either be completely useless or will need to undergo a serious update to provide accurate insights:
A / B testing of subject lines to determine the most enticing option Audience segmentation and targeting based on last opening date Automated processes triggered by an open e-mail Send time optimization Interactive e-mails with external CSS references
Because of this uncertainty, you may need to regularly test your health on delivery and consider focusing on different measurements.
# 2 Engagement Metrics
Since we can no longer rely on open prices as an accurate measure of campaign success, it may be time to reconsider how we measure engagement. Metrics for the upper funnel can take a back seat for metrics at the bottom of the funnel such as:
Clickthroughs Site Visits Conversions Buy
However, even these upper funnel metrics, which are subject to third-party data, may not be as effective. Now marketers need to focus on measuring success that results in customer action – the ultimate end goal of any advertising strategy.
How to prepare for iOS 15
With major changes on the horizon, it is now time to adjust your strategy accordingly. With that in mind, there are a few ways you can begin to prepare yourself for what is to come:
Understand Your Audience – This iOS update may have less or less of an impact on your marketing strategy – it all depends on how many of your customers use Apple Mail to read emails. According to a Litmus survey, Apple iPhone mail accounted for almost half of all mobile openings (49.6%), dwarfing second place, Gmail (18.6%). But that may not be the case for your user base. Now is a good time to dig into audience segmentation data based on the Apple device and app usage. Keep testing content – For now we still have access to open data. So take advantage of it as long as it lasts. Test subject line styles and submit times more often in connection with the update. Focus on optimizing CTAs- As clicks and click-through rates become increasingly valuable metrics, your efforts should focus on stimulating users to trade and convert. Use UTM parameters – Adding UTM parameters to your email can help with accurate click tracking. Apple’s proxy server opening automatically will lead to increased ESP-attributed revenue, which can obscure the reality of your marketing campaigns if you do not collect the information in other ways.
Segmentation changes Post-iOS 15
With iOS 15, you probably also need to change your email and list segmentation strategies. Again, we still do not know exactly how this update will affect your metrics, but we may speculate that the following actions will be necessary:
Reconsider what engagement looks like- By relying on metrics like click, active on-site, visitors who have seen the product, and visitors who have placed an order, you can better measure user engagement and then segment accordingly. Clean up your lists – When you optimize your recipient lists, you can achieve greater success by focusing on click data and active users on the site, as these are clear (and unpolluted) indicators of customer engagement and ongoing interest. Proactively collect location information – Before the update takes effect, collect any geolocation data you can. After the release date, you can use forms to collect location-based data as long as your customers actively provide this information.
Marketing-Ideas: Preparing you for what’s to come
Technology is constantly evolving. The subsequent changes have both benefits and challenges associated. In response, marketing teams must remain agile – quick to respond and willing to turn a dime. Navigating the upcoming privacy changes in iOS 15 is no exception.
Need help rethinking your marketing strategies?
This is where our digital marketing agency, Marketing-Ideas, makes a difference. We are a full-service digital agency that delivers tailor-made marketing strategies for efficiency to strengthen the company’s growth. Together we can prepare you for what the future of marketing brings.
Mashable. After the update, only 4 percent of iOS users in the U.S. let apps track them. https://mashable.com/article/ios-14-5-users-opt-out-of-ad-tracking Apple Press Release. Apple promotes its leadership in privacy with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey and watchOS 8. https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2021/06/apple-advances-its-privacy-leadership-with -ios-15 -ipados-15-macos-monterey-and-watchos-8 / Apple. iOS 15 preview. https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-15-preview/ Litmus. The email client’s market share in May 2021: The recovery of mobile and more. https://www.litmus.com/blog/email-client-market-share-may-2021/