Throughout the pandemic, email engagement soared to never-before-seen heights. Meaning that media companies and publishers entered 2021 with big plans for their email newsletters.
Diversified revenues streams, subscriber growth, and more relevant, personalized content were within the reach of so many brands. Until Apple made big, privacy-focused changes to its Mail app and operating systems — leaving many digital marketers scrambling to come up with a new plan.
So, what do media and publishing marketers need to know about Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection update? And how should you shift your email newsletter strategy to achieve even more success in this new generation of consumer privacy?
Last week, Apple rolled out iOS 15 — its newest desktop and mobile operating system. And while these releases are always a big deal for your shoppers and subscribers, this release threw a few extra wrenches into every marketer’s email newsletter plans.
Thanks to Mail Privacy Protection, this update contains a variety of features “designed to protect user privacy,” including the obfuscation of personally identifiable information to email senders whenever someone opens their message through Apple Mail, the tech titan’s native email application.
And — unfortunately for you — these changes may come with some extra work. At minimum, this privacy-minded shift will have a profound effect on how media groups and publishers use their email newsletters moving forward. Because now, increasing in-email engagement of your readers is only half the battle; you need to make data-driven strategies and new information collecting methods that help you attract and retain paid newsletter subscribers a top priority.
Today is the perfect time to elevate your email newsletter strategy — whether your goal is to simply maintain your current understanding of your audience or drive new engagement growth. But that end goal only becomes possible after making some tough choices — and before you’re ready to pivot, you need to have the answers to a few key questions.
Should you shift to in-email engagement as a primary metric, even if it risks making your newsletters more clickbait-y? Do you add fields and forms to your email newsletter subscription process in order to bridge the gap and collect more personal data — risking friction that may deter some from completing the last step? Should you invest even more into subscription business models to make up for potential ad revenue losses?
These are just a few things to consider. But first, take a deep breath and don’t freak out. Accept that this transition is going to require change — so focus 100% of your time, energy, and attention on the things you can control today to inspire even greater success in the future.
While open rate and open-focused KPIs aren’t the only metric available to media and publisher email marketing teams, they’re definitely high on the list for every major brand. Correction: were. Because Apple Mail’s most recent update puts a proxy in place that automatically opens any message a user is sent — whether the recipient actually ever sees it or not.
And this makes open rates an inaccurate and unreliable metric to gauge your success moving forward — unfortunately, it’s too early to tell exactly to what extent. While the average US media company can expect roughly half its audience to consume content on their Apple device, only a fraction of that percentage actively use Apple Mail.
Regardless, it’s time to move away from open-focused measurements and toward a more engagement-driven email newsletter ecosystem instead. If you could use a few fresh ideas to inspire your future strategy, check out A Marketer’s Guide to Working Smarter Not Harder for some low-effort, high-impact marketing tactics you can implement right away.