Why we should no longer be using open rates as metrics

Apple is making significant privacy changes, requiring every email marketer to rethink how they approach deliverability, reporting, and content strategies. Many people are used to measuring email success using open rates. Why not? It's straightforward and shows the progress of an email marketing campaign seamlessly.

Generally, when the open rate is high, it hints that the subject line is doing a great job of pulling readers. You're doing well in your efforts, engaging more people, and your subscribers are eagerly awaiting your next email. On the other hand, you know you need to change something up if the open rate is low.

However, this is changing, and email marketers can no longer use open rates to measure their email success.

What has Apple changed in the iOS 15 update?

The new changes revolutionize the email marketing industry. It allows Apple users to:

  • Close or turn off open tracking
  • Hide IP addresses
  • Hide email address

Therefore, the key takeaway for most email marketers is that the open rates are most likely to be turned off by users.

The new iOS 15 privacy features include the following:

  • Mail privacy protection: Litmus reports that anyone with early access to iOS 15 or other tech journalists can now use mail privacy features that enable them to hide their IP addresses and block all third parties from tracking email open or any IP data. Therefore, this free feature does eliminate the ability to track open rates accurately.
  • Private relay: By subscribing to iCloud+, users get additional privacy features like this VPN-like private relay that prevents any sites from tracking Safari users who can opt-in. They can also see the websites on the receiving end of the data.
  • Hide my email: This feature allows users to give a site a 'fake' email address. Therefore, the promotional messages will likely get sent to a stranger and not result in any essential communications. The brands cannot get the person's actual address until they get a contact form.

These paid features may not significantly impact email marketers since they require users to buy the services. However, the free feature is a significant concern since it's already causing a stir leading to email marketing disruptions.

How do the iOS 15 updates affect email marketing?

There is a major impact on these updates to several email marketing strategies. Various campaigns and automation workflows must change to ensure the marketing still has the same impact as before. Issues like retention and re-engagement marketing mainly depend on open rates as the best engagement used will also need updating.

Another critical area also significantly affected is deliverability tracking that ensures your email reaches the intended recipients. Here are some ways you can adjust the email marketing campaigns and the resulting update to iOS 15.

Adjust your open-rate goals

It would be best to start by analyzing your email list to adjust the focus of email open rate expectations. It will help you to determine the number of people who open your emails on Apple mail. This is very important, more so when you will not be using the open rate any longer.

Carry out the calculation to know the exact impact on your goals by checking the unique and total open rates. Using this information, you can adjust your expectations accurately based on the KPIs.

Use other email marketing data metrics

Various email marketing data metrics are available that can offer you great insights into optimizing your emails effectively and reaching out to prospects. Some of the top standard and usable metrics are:

  • Click-through rates
  • Website traffic
  • The size of your email list
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • Signup data
  • Survey data
  • Purchases and orders

Make use of A/B testing

Now is the time A/B test as much as possible to decipher what it is that engages your audience. Therefore, you can look for the best styles and formulas that you can use to create a better email that will lead to more conversion. Here are a few elements to test:

  • Length of emails
  • Emoji usage
  • Popular formulas, such as statement vs. question subject lines
  • Trending topics
  • Figures/statistics
  • Personalization
  • Send from names instead of your brand/business name - surprisingly, it's one of the rarely used formulas but proves to be efficient. According to Jay Schwedelson, Founder and CEO of SubjectLine.com, emails sent by a person rather than a brand name have an increased open rate of about 450% for B2B and 275% for B2C.

Continue with your well-established automated workflows

On the contrary, email marketing is not dead and just taking a better turn. You can improve it by auditing and modifying the automation you already have in place that you were using with open email tracking. If you try to continue using them the same way, they can report false positives, so you will need to adjust them accordingly to account for the change.

Create a list of non-Apple Mail users within your database

It's important at this point to carry out a bit of list hygiene by removing inactive contacts now that you won't be using open rates to manage deliverability, maybe, until new solutions come into play.

You can equally adjust or annotate open rate performance to ensure you still have the right insights when using open rates with non-Apple users. Apply a second version of KPIs that reports only for non-Apple users with no impact on the open rates. It is only possible when the email providers offer such segmentation and reporting features are available.

Also, note that Apple has not blocked any clickthroughs, making no changes to email traffic reports by Google Analytics of website analytic tools.

Contact us at ESM Inbound to learn how to improve your email marketing strategies with the new Apple updates and gain better conversions.

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