How is iOS 15 affecting email marketing?

How is iOS 15 affecting email marketing?

Isabella Blenkin

15 February 2022

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal. We’re all drowning in emails, but a great email marketing campaign can help your business stand out in your customer’s inboxes. The iOS 15 update that came along last year was a woeful sight for email marketers everywhere. Here’s what it actually meant.

What is iOS 15?

The ultimate question.

In short, iOS 15 is an Apple operating system (OS) with a big focus on privacy. You may have heard about App Tracking Transparency, and the prompt asking if you’d like to receive targeted ads. iOS 15 is just another push towards alleviating consumer’s privacy concerns amidst the ever-present rise of data.

Email-wise, this manifested in the new Mail Privacy Protection feature for Apple Mail:

  1. Apple Mail users now have the option to turn off email tracking.
  2. Marketers will no longer have access to accurate records on open rates for these users.
  3. In Apple’s words “The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

As you can imagine, this announcement set the email marketing world on fire.

Open rates are indicative of your subject line performance, amoung other factors. They also help you understand whether your email has been sent at the right time, on the right day. On a base level, they give great insight into:

  • The quality of your email content (especially your subject lines)
  • What time of day is the best time to send your emails
  • How relevant your information is to your target audience
  • Do you need further segmentation of the database
  • Is your email marketing strategy working overall?

What does this mean for email marketing?

For many email marketers, this new update has left them in the dark. How will you know what is performing well? How will you know to change your marketing strategy? What does this mean for the future of email marketing?

Well, basically, it means you have to switch it up.

You may need to take a new approach to personalised emails. You may also need to utilise location-based emails to compensate for the lack of IP address data.

Changing or increasing the frequency of your emails can make your message more noticeable. However, there is a fine line between relevance and spam; this could take some experimenting, because you don’t want anybody unsubscribing.

It also means that you’ll have to communicate your message in a new way. Experimenting with subject lines, tone, content and email frequency can help you get an idea of what performs well.

Since users can make their email addresses private, marketers will probably have to move away from open rate data. But it’s okay, because there are several other metrics you can track to see how your marketing strategies are performing.

The iOS 15 email marketing updates are not a cause for panic.


Let’s be realistic:

  • It’s not as many people as you might think; as of November 2021, iOS had less than 30% the worldwide mobile market.
  • Emails aren’t always opened on phones (and Mac desktops don’t use Apple’s iOS)
  • Not everyone will opt in
  • There are other ways to track your marketing successes
  • Not everyone uses Mac Mail.

To use the open rate as your core metric for email marketing is flawed, because there are several other factors that could end up being more telling for your business. Email opens are sometimes said to be ‘vanity metrics.’ Sometimes, other tracking methods such as website clicks, traffic spikes and sale conversions tell you more about your business progression.

Sometimes, other tracking methods such as website clicks, traffic spikes and sale conversions tell you more about your business progression.

This isn’t the end of email marketing by any means. It could simply be the beginning of a more creative way of creating successful marketing strategies.

If you’re needing advice on your iOS 15 email marketing strategy, shoot us a message today.