On September 20, 2021, Apple released their new OS, iOS 15.
There were many large changes introduced with this operating system and a few of the major changes were focused on privacy. The change that received the most attention from email senders was the Mail Privacy Protection feature of the Mail app.
What is Mail Privacy Protection?
Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature will automatically load the pixels in an email to prevent email senders from collecting any information about the receiver. Email opens and open rates are calculated by embedding a tiny pixel into the email and when a pixel is loaded, an open event is logged. Since Apple is automatically loading pixels regardless of subscriber behavior, emails are appearing to be opened whether they are actually opened by the subscriber or not.
Which subscribers are impacted?
The subscribers who will be impacted by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection are those who are using an Apple device with iOS 15 installed and are using the Apple Mail app to manage their mailbox. Any email address can use the Apple Mail app to manage their mailbox. This means you won’t be able to determine whether or not an email address is impacted by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection just by looking at it.
How have open rates been impacted by iOS 15?
Across ConvertKit accounts, we have seen an increase in open rates since Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection was released from 30% to 34%. Here is the upward trend we’re seeing in open rates:
We publish our average open rates each month in our deliverability reports. You can view past reports here. To receive an email notification each time we post a new monthly deliverability report (plus more helpful deliverability info and tips), sign up here.
What to expect moving forward with iOS 15
According to Mixpanel, iOS 15 has been installed on 62.85% of all iOS devices. As adoption continues to increase, open rates will continue to rise. Creators can expect to see a gradual increase in open rates over time as more and more iOS users update their devices.
Even before Apple’s latest changes, open rates were becoming less and less reliable. While some providers were automatically loading pixels for a better user experience, other providers like Hey were blocking pixels in the name of privacy.
There are many reasons that messages could appear to have been opened when they actually weren’t or they could appear to have not been opened when they actually were. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection took the unreliability of open rates to the next level which got the attention of many email senders. It’s possible that as consumers call for more privacy, other mailbox providers will follow in Apple’s footsteps and emails being automatically “opened” will be the new normal.
It’s time for creators to pivot. Open rate trends can still help you paint part of the picture about how your emails are performing, but they shouldn’t be used alone. Be sure to consider other metrics like our click rates and conversion rates alongside your open rate trends. Now is a great time to get creative with the ways in which subscribers can engage with your emails! You can learn some creative strategies to increase your subscriber engagement by listening to this episode of the Deliverability Defined podcast.
To learn more about what Apple’s privacy changes mean for your deliverability, check out this podcast episode and blog post. To receive an email notification each time we post a new monthly deliverability report (plus more helpful deliverability info and tips), sign up here.