How to Navigate the Apple iOS 15 Update


Earlier this year, we wrote about how to navigate Apple’s iOS 14 update, and now we’re back to help you navigate the upcoming iOS 15 update, which has been referred to as the “death of email marketing”. We’re here to tell you that the iOS 15 update is not the death of email marketing. Changes are coming, but this isn’t the email-pocalypse. 

Every so often, big changes come to the marketing world, and every time they come, we adjust and continue to succeed. Note: We've updated part of this article post-iOS 15 launch (see next section) to summarize the changes that have occurred.

How Will the iOS 15 Update Affect Email Marketing?

In iOS 15, iPhone users will be able to:

  • Turn off open tracking
  • Block their IP address
  • Hide their email address

The fact is, the changes in iOS 15 require adjustment, testing, restrategizing, and workarounds on the eCommerce marketing side. A substantial percentage of your open tracking will be affected, as almost 54% of smartphone users have iPhones in 2021 (and 65% of smartphone sales in 2021 have been iPhone sales; Apple's market share continues to grow).

For these customers, the following has occurred (Updated post-iOS 15 launch):

  • A/B testing Subject Lines + Email Content has become problematic and unreliable.
  • Open rates have skyrocketed. Although many people thought that open rates would go down, the opposite has occurred. Why? Normally, the way Email Service Providers (ESPs) know that you’ve opened an email is that they use a 1x1 pixel image in the email (that is invisible to the eye). When you open an email, a request is made to retrieve the image. This is how the ESP knows that you opened it. However, Apple now requests all images when the email is delivered. So, it now looks like you open all your emails. Although the presentation is different (all opens versus no opens), the result is the same: email open data is currently useless. 
  • Blocking IP addresses means no location-based segmentation for these users, either.

There’s a lot you can do right now to combat iOS 15, and even if you’re reading this once the update is live, you can use a number of strategies to keep your brand’s email marketing healthy, strong, and improving over time.

Here’s how.

The Big iOS 15 and Email Marketing Strategy List

Clean your email lists now

It’s time to get your email lists squeaky clean. Make sure that all your email lists only include active contacts so that you’ll be sending your content and offers to those who will be more receptive and likely to convert. If there are email addresses that haven’t opened any of your content for over 18 months, it’s probably time to say good-bye to them. 

Optimize (A/B test) your email automations now

Take advantage of the remaining weeks and months and use email opens to test the success of your most important email automations in (perhaps what will be known as) the old-school way. A/B test different subject lines vs email content, and lean into open rates for these tests while you can.

Also, remember to test levels of personalization, CTAs, images, offers or incentives, and email layout/design. The more information you have now, the better prepared you will be. 

Hone in on more meaningful metrics (e.g., click-through rate) and measure email performance differently

Let’s drop some controversy in here: email opens are useful, but they are not necessary. They fall into the “Nice to Have” category, not the “Your Business Is Doomed Without Them” category. When compared to click-through rate, email opens are closer to a vanity metric because if somebody clicks on the content of your email, that click is the most reliable indicator that the content is engaging. 

Therefore, it’s time to start measuring your email performance based on click-through rate. Until there is a workaround and some new kind of email open metric can provide more context to lower-intent customer engagement, the evaluation of email performance will be based on a lone question: did someone click?

Grow your email subscriber list

Regardless of whether opens are around or not, you should be working to increase the size and breadth of your marketing funnel. Once your advertising has gotten somebody on-site, do everything you can to capture their email (and phone number!). Otherwise, all that hard work and testing to get people on your page will have been for nothing. With all of the tools around to enhance a new visitor’s onsite experience, take advantage, and grow your email subscriber list.

Start testing pop-ups on-site, and go a step further by optimizing pop-ups based on what marketing channel someone is coming from. For example if someone is coming from Instagram or TikTok, test messaging that is catered toward your content from those channels. 

Track content sharing

A lesser mentioned way to get an idea of how much your audience is engaged with (and values) your email content is to track how many shares that content gets or how many times an email is forwarded. If you want to take this a step further, track the rate of shares or forwards over time. 

By understanding what type of marketing content is most valuable, you can produce more of it and both keep current subscribers more engaged, and gain new customers and subscribers via the shared content. For more on increasing email content sharing, this is a great article from Hubspot.

Double down on email segmentation

As personalized content and CX grow more vital with every year, so does thoughtful and strategic email segmentation. Strong email segmentation will ensure that you’re getting the right messaging and the right offers to the right customers at the right time. 

Segment based on marketing channel of origin, site browsing behavior, purchase history, survey and/or review engagement, length of time as customer, customer LTV, and more. Additionally, you should continue segmenting based on levels of email engagement, but instead of using open rate as a factor here, use click-through rate. 

If you execute your segmentation strategy well, you will lower your unsubscribe rate and increase your conversion rate, customer LTV, and revenue.

Invest in customer retention

You’re probably never going to hear us take issue with a suggestion to increase focus and budget on customer retention, especially on the eve of iOS 15. A strong customer retention program will strengthen your email marketing program and how engaged your customers are with your emails. 

For example, if you don’t have one already, it may be the time to invest in a loyalty program. Customers love to see how many points they have, the offers their loyalty programs currently provide and will provide once they hit spending thresholds, and whether they have achieved certain “tiers” in the loyalty program. You’ll likely see high engagement with these kinds of emails. Pro-tip: try inserting other content into loyalty emails, such as new or upcoming products and sales, because they’ll be fully engaged. 

Diversify your channels

Even though email is and will remain alive and well, it’s never too late to start diversifying your marketing channels. SMS has been gaining significant popularity, and we’ll reiterate the message of many other posts out there about the benefits of SMS (e.g., SMS conversion rates doubling in 2020).

However, a less-discussed channel that we’d like to call attention to is web push notifications, which you can optimize in a variety of ways, including for abandoned carts, sales, and personalized content. It’s necessary to carefully segment recipients of these as well, because you don’t want to irritate the recipient. The messaging must cater to the particular audience. 

How Daasity can help combat iOS 15

Daasity is a purpose-built eCommerce analytics company, meaning we exist exclusively to empower eCommerce brands with better data . So, we really understand the needs of eCommerce brands. Therefore, we understand how much you love email opens and geolocation (we love them, too!).

Using Daasity, you will be able to gain deep insight into your email performance and other messaging performance; we have integrations with Klaviyo, Attentive for your messaging needs (and a host of integrations with eCommerce tools, such as Shopify, Amazon Marketplace, Facebook, Gorgias, Yotpo, and Skubana).

If you’re interested in learning more about Daasity and how we can help you put your best data forward and thrive after iOS 15, check us out here, or contact us here. We love eCommerce analytics, long walks on the beach, and making email marketing (and the rest of your marketing and eCommerce business) better.

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