It started with iOS 14, and now it keeps going with iOS 15. Apple is making effort in turning privacy into one of its core brand identifiers and competitive differentiators.

If you have spent time reading through Apple's Newsroom, it would be clear that almost every feature update comes with a privacy component. And that is great news of course, especially when we are all sensitive about our privacy and safety on the internet.

But a few of us are already feeling the burn with these updates. I'm winking at makers, builders, and marketers in particular.

Here is the next mountain to climb:

  • Mail app runs images through proxy servers. Meaning: mail tracking pixel is removed. We no longer know if and when someone opens an email.
  • Hide My Email: iCloud subscribers now can use burner (temporary and anonymous) email addresses in the Mail app.
  • Privacy Relay hides IP addresses. Meaning: location data is removed. We no longer know where someone is located, also what they search for.
These changes will be troublesome because Apple's Email app is the most used email client (28%), and 100% of this 28% will have these settings turned on by default. So far, stats show that an alarming 94% change these settings. They just keep them as are.

These changes will affect just about everything that has to do with email, such as user targeting, segmentation, contact tactics...

  • Metrics based on open rates are now useless.
  • Location-based targeting and send times are now impossible.
  • Retargeting and reengaging flows triggered based on customer behavior will need to change. "Hasn't opened in the last 30 days" is no longer available.
  • A/B testing on subject lines and preview will be much more difficult.
  • Re-sends will not work anymore, as we wouldn't know if users open an email or not.
  • Understanding list growth will be challenging because of burner email addresses.

Those are just a few obvious obstacles, but they already make me heap a long sigh. But if we look on the bright side, email tracking has always been a hack working around loopholes, and open rates have been unreliable for a while now. So it's about time we attempted to do email the right way.

Email marketing (even for those running newsletters) will be all about interaction.

We will need to go from tracking open rates to tracking clicks and delivery rates.

We will need tactics that serve as baits to take users to a destination outside of their mail app. Once they click, you're in control of how and what to track, as long as you design the journey tastefully.

Some of the tactics I have seen brands do:

Profiling & Check-in

Keep users updated with what you are doing. Keeps user preferences relevant. Ask if there are any changes, if there is anything they would want from you.

SmartWriter shares their roadmap, changelog and asks for customer feedback directly from their email. And nobody refuses a cute cat meme, ever.

Teaser

It works just like a movie. Include in the email a piece of interesting content (like a teaser) and link it to your website.

Sidekick often plays the curiosity trick.

Rating

The Hustle is ahead of their time. They have been including a rating asking for feedback on their newsletter way before all the fuss about privacy appeared.

The Hustle's newsletter rating. It's easy, simple, fun. Make you wanna click.

Once users click, they are taken to a simple form on the browser to provide optional written feedback with what they like / dislike about the newsletter.

Quiz

It works if it takes little time, it's fun and you manage to create quizzes relevant to your brand.

The Morning Brew links to a 5-question quiz on their website. Those questions are snippets of news included in their past newsletters.

In simple words, take users outside of their mail app.

Put your creativity to the test, and find savory interactions to make users want to click. These little interactions are also a mechanism to strengthen our connections with users, so we will have to be mindful here.

Make it about the users, make it interesting, they will click.

Make it forceful, spammy, they will scroll down the email and click the "Unsubscribe" button instead.

And if it goes with your brand, don't shy away from including graphics, visuals done right are always a great way to make humans interested.


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Illustration: Man practicing martial arts-karate Illustration on Iconscout