Apple Mail Privacy Protection

  • Updated

Apple's current operating system versions iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey and watchOS 8 include the Apple Mail Privacy Protection. The new privacy features restrict the transmission of tracking information to Optimizely Campaign.

Other email and webmail apps, such as Gmail or Outlook, are not affected by Apple Mail Privacy Protection. However, if your email recipients use Gmail account via Apple Mail, for example, the privacy features - if activated - also affect them.

How it works

Apple users decide in Apple Mail whether to enable Apple Mail Privacy Protection. If enabled, Apple Mail Privacy Protection prevents Optimizely Campaign from tracking email recipients' opens by using invisible tracking pixels.

Apple caches tracking pixels and external content and automatically generates email opens. Apple masks the IP address of the email recipient via proxy servers and prevents the identification of the location and the device as well as the link with other online activities.

Image: How it works

How it affects your email marketing

The open rate in connection with Apple Mail loses considerable significance. Since Apple caches the emails and fakes opens, the open rates will be higher and the click-to-open rate (CTOR) lower.

Affected are marketing processes and strategies that use the open rate as a trigger or segmentation criterion, as well as A/B tests in which, for example, a decision is made between two email subject line variants.

You can still perform subject line and A/B tests. Note the following tips:

  • Select larger segments (based on the proportion of Apple Mail users in your mailing list)
  • Exclude detected Apple Mail users
  • Use the adjusted open rate as a criterion
  • Use clicks or conversions instead of opens as a criterion

Further impact:

  • Send time optimization. The click behavior of the recipients concerned is considered the decisive criterion instead of the opens.
  • Cluster recipients by activity. This feature is less accurate when only the open rate is considered.
  • Dynamic content. The loading time when opening dynamic content (e.g. product recommendations or animated GIF countdowns) is falsified.

Measures by Optimizely Campaign

Optimizely Campaign detects automatically generated opens and excludes them from the KPI analysis for reports, which reduces the open rate. The more users use Apple's new operating system versions, the greater the proportion of automatic opens that are filtered out.

You can download all automatic opens as a CSV file using response data export. To do this, contact customer support.

By filtering automatic opens, opens in Apple Mail are determined based on clicks only. This means that Apple Mail users are not included as synthetic opens in reporting until they click within the email.

Target groups and triggers that check for non-openers will (incorrectly) classify more recipients as non-openers than before and will no longer be reliable. Therefore, adjust your target groups and campaigns.

Planned measures

Optimizely Campaign is continuously working on solutions to best respond to the Apple Mail Privacy Protection. The following measures are planned:

  • Target groups for evaluation and segmentation of the distribution list based on automatic opens
  • Automatic opens as a measure in Deep Analytics

    You can determine the proportion of Apple Mail users in Deep Analytics by using the Opens (Absolute) measure and the Operating System > iOS or Mac and the Operating System Version groupings for your report. See Creating report templates.