Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

How Email Marketers Can Get Prepared for Apple Mail Privacy Protection

Apple recently announced new features for iOS 15 and newer which are expected to roll out somewhere in October to November. Most of them address user data privacy and data tracking permissions. See the full review in our article Privacy Updates for iOS 14.5 and 15 and What They Mean for Digital Marketing.

The feature that concerns most email marketers around is Mail Privacy Protection. Based on it, new users opening the Apple Mail app for the first time will see a prompt offering to select one of the options – Protect Mail activity or Don’t protect Mail activity.

Mail Privacy Protection prompt example

Emails for users who select the Protect Mail activity option will be first routed by Apple to pre-load message content and then delivered to recipients’ Inboxes. This means that even readers who don’t open these emails will count in your campaign reports as opens.

This is expected to affect email marketing strategies that hugely rely on open rates to:

  • Track user’s engagement;
  • Build reactivation segments with the last open as a condition for contact inclusion;
  • Build automated workflows with opens as a condition for the flow to move on;
  • Do subject A/B testing using opens to determine the winner;
  • Personalize send time based on the user's average open time;
  • Do cohort analysis and RFM analysis, etc.

So far, there is no single answer on how to respond to the upcoming policy. However, there are certain steps your brand can already start doing. Listen to the advice of our experts to get your email marketing prepared.

16 Tips to Prepare Your Email Marketing for iOS 15 Updates

Natalia Ustimenko, eSputnik

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When in 2018 the GDPR introduced DOI (Double Opt-In) and obliged brands to send confirmation emails asking users to confirm their email address, many were struck by panic. Marketers started adopting some premature decisions like bombarding their contacts with numerous confirmation requests, splitting existing contacts into multiple groups, reducing email volume in the countries covered by the GDPR policies. All it did was harming their deliverability and sender reputation.

So before revising your email strategy, analyze your contact base and evaluate possible risks.

  • Segment your audience by app opens to see the share of Apple Mail app users. Apple Mail Privacy Protection will affect opens in the Apple Mail app on any device; it shouldn’t affect opens in other email apps (Gmail, Outlook) used on Apple devices. Your first step is to see to what extent the upcoming policy is applicable to your readers.

All tools for email contact segmentation

Once you figure out what part of your contacts are expected to be affected, plan your next steps.

  • Validate your contact list and clean the base to avoid distorted data on deliverability.
  • Test open rates before the policy comes into effect this fall. Set before and after benchmarks and compare them after the update. Decide what difference (say 5% or 10%) will be impactful for your campaigns.
  • Switch to click rate to measure engagement. Think of ways to prompt response beyond CTA: AMP for email, email scoring, referral incentives, images that need turning on, links to download files.
  • Focus on other report benchmarks (clickmaps, unsubscribe rate). Say the sudden rise of the unsubscribe rate may be a signal you’re doing something wrong or your domain has been abused by spammers.
  • Build reactivation campaigns based on clicks, site visits, purchases, etc.
  • Conduct surveys and ask people directly if they like the content they’re receiving.
  • Run A/B tests. Since iOS updates won’t affect other email clients and desktop opens, use these open rates to determine the subject A/B testing winner. Do prior tests and if the difference between the winners for Apple app users and others isn’t significant, consider assigning the winner for other versions to the Apple app users as well.
  • Measure traffic to pages used in emails.
  • Adjust settings for personalized send time optimization.
Last post

Jordie van Rijn, Emailmonday

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We have to see how Apple will exactly implement their changes. In the meantime, there is a lot that marketers CAN do to increase intentional engagement beyond just opens.

Why is intentional engagement so important?

By planning engagement and including engagement triggers in every email, you won’t just be building your brand and offer a richer brand experience to your readers. The idea is to tease out valuable first-party click and self-reported data which in turn lets you improve segmentation and follow-up emails. Examples and ideas of how you can implement this:

  • Start your welcome emails with an open question, asking people to reply. You can ask about the reason and place they subscribed in your welcome emails. Especially in B2B it is a great ice breaker – and sets up the relationship for success. You can ask for reply in every email you send.
  • Give richer experiences beyond the click. Offer the opportunity for richer experiences beyond the click like a video, browsable magazine, interactive statistics report, game, evergreen webinar, etc.
  • Include survey, poll or voting inside your email. A first survey question in your email works much better than just a button Take our survey, this can be a recurring element that leads to customer insight AND user-generated content at the same time.
  • Ask quality feedback and ratings. Ask your subscribers to vote on the email content themselves, you’ve seen this as thumbs up or down. On the following landing page, ask for more qualitative feedback.
  • Choose your own next promotion. Eg offer three products and ask Which promotion would you like the most? This will go very well leading up to Black Friday and other sales promotions.
  • Confirm or remove favorites. This can be key to new product discovery. Stating This is a beautiful product/destination, etc don’t you think? where they can add to favorites/remove from favorites.

Email marketers are a very adaptive bunch, so things will be alright. Just never forget it is the marketers’ job (not your customers) to make the emails interesting and elicit engagement, intentionally.


Apple Mail Privacy is one of a number of regulations impacting email marketing strategies. It's neither the first nor the only one, and we'll definitely see more privacy acts in the future as users seek more digital protection and security.

This doesn’t mean you should give up on your marketing or adapt poor-thought decisions. What it means is to keep on improving and innovating your tactics to both meet the privacy requirements and deliver value to your customers.

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Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

A technical (but still very creative) writer at eSputnik with a strong focus on design, current digital marketing trends, and new solutions for email automation.

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