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The Impact of iOS 15 on Email Marketing

Rocket Conversions Digital Ad Agency Blog iOS 15 Apple Update Impact on Email Marketing
Picture of Steve Walton
Steve Walton
Co-Founder & Managing Director, Rocket Conversions

What’s happening to Email Marketing after the iOS 15 Update?

Take a look at the changes, the impact, and the revisions required. 


Are you worried about how Apple’s iOS 15 update is going to change your email marketing?

You’re not alone. The email marketing world is in a frenzy with the latest iOS 15 update, especially because this is going to force email marketers to change 20 years’ worth of tried-and-tested email marketing best practices.

It’s a wake-up call like no other. It’s especially more attention-grabbing considering that around 48% of email users will potentially be impacted by this iOS 15 update (Litmus, 2021).

Email Marketing Share Worldwide


Open rates, equivalent to the likes on Instagram, were a long-trusted metric for email marketers.

With these rates now being reported as inflated, they’re no longer a reliable way for marketers to assess their marketing impact. 

But there’s nothing to worry about. The general consensus is that email marketing will continue to be a leading source of revenue for brands, given that they consistently focus on engaging subscribers and customers the right way.


What are the Apple iOS 15 changes and how will they affect email marketing?


Apple has released several changes with its latest iOS update that will affect opted-in Apple users, including the ability to:

  • Mask personal email addresses using a proxy email address
  • Hide location data by obscuring IP addresses
  • Pre-load email images including tracking pixels

This means that email marketers will now no longer be able to:

  • View accurate open rate data for emails – a long-trusted email metric, open rates may now be inflated and single or multiple opens will not be tracked correctly
  • Collect accurate location-based data for emails – email marketers will not be able to email users according to location/time zone, and smart send time optimization features may be affected
  • Dynamic content that is reliant on opens or IP data may not be supported e.g. weather widgets, store locators and countdown timers
  • Acquire correct up-to-date email addresses for their database
  • See accurate data for revenue attribution – ESP revenue will not be trustworthy for platforms using view-through attribution


How can you adjust your email marketing and adapt to these new changes?


1: Redefine what success looks like in your email marketing program

Reduce your focus on open rates, and give greater importance to click rates instead

If Apple users opt-in to the update and privacy changes, Apple Mail on their devices will pre-load email images and tracking pixels resulting in inflated open rates. Marketers will also be unable to see, accurately, if an email has been opened once, or multiple times.

It also means that engaged segments created with the definition of open rates will no longer be relevant, nor will there be much point to having email resends (remails or booster sends) set up for non-openers.

Our recommendations are for you to:

  • Change your segment definitions to include additional criteria of engagement such as clicks, orders placed, website activity etc. (see the graphic below)

Email Marketing Engaged Segments After iOS15 Apple Update

  • Revise any flow triggers based on email opens to include the same criteria
  • Ensure that UTM tracking is accurate to enable last click reporting via Google Analytics
  • Consider moving to click attribution if possible

Overall, reframe success to be more about the actions taken by subscribers. How many people clicked on your links? How many people placed orders? How many people downloaded your piece of content or subscribed to your webinar? These are some of the many ways you can better gauge subscriber engagement, compared to open rates.


2: Experiment as much as possible – use A/B testing

If you’ve been conducting A/B testing for open rates up until now, we suggest changing your winning metric to click rates.

This means that you’ll want to increase the chances of your readers clicking anywhere in your email, and some ways you can do so include: 

  • Images: Play around with GIFs, solid imagery, different templates to better understand what your readers are clicking on. Once you have your results, repeat for your next emails!
  • CTA Buttons: Experiment with different CTA buttons placed in different parts of the email. Always have clear CTAs in the top-fold to ensure maximum conversions.
  • Copy: Experiment with short-form and long-form copy, with paragraphs and with bullet points – understand what your reader responds to the best, and what makes them take the desired action (clicking) in your emails. 


3: Monitor the number of Apple users

Platforms like Klaviyo offer prebuilt templates in their report library to help users track Email Opens by Email Clients that can help you monitor monthly trends.

Marketers can also create segments to see which users are using Apple Mail or Mobile Safari to better understand how their overall data may be getting affected. If Apple Mail accounts for more than 50% of your unique opens, it may be worthwhile to consider using click-based marketing attribution for accurate data.

You can also use tools like Litmus’ Email Analytics that can help understand your audience makeup, and further, assess how the update may impact your email marketing.


4: Audit your account

Are you relying on open rates and IP data to judge the success of your email marketing? Are your lists up to date? Now’s the time to clean your lists to make sure you’re only emailing people who want to hear from you.


To sum up all the different steps you can take to adjust your email marketing approach in the wake of this update, Klaviyo has created a helpful chart:



Klaviyo Email Marketing iOS 15 Update Decision Chart

What’s next for email marketing?


Several industry experts predict that with the recent wave of data privacy changes, other tech giants like Google may soon follow in the footsteps of Apple.

But many also say that by building deeper relationships with users through permission-based channels like email and SMS, marketers can create a solid and long-lasting connection with their customers.

All in all, open rates should never be the defining success factor for your marketing.

As a marketer, you want to ensure relevant engagement and action which is more likely to happen as clicks and purchases.

We at Rocket Conversions feel this is an opportunity for email marketers to stay on top of their game, test out new strategies and increase ways to connect with their subscribers.

In the meantime, Omnisend has set up www.opensaredead.com/ as the one-stop hub for all things related to the iOS 15 update and it’s impact on email marketing. Be sure to check it out for the latest news, best practices and perspectives from industry experts in email marketing. 

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