Dotdigital blog

Don’t be scared of iOS 15

When Apple announced its iOS 15 update, it left email marketers shaken. No more opens, no more location data, no more real email addresses? Cue panic.

Remember when GDPR was announced and everyone thought it was the beginning of the end of email marketing? Well, we weathered that storm, and we’re ready to do the same again. Being a marketer is all about rolling with the punches and adapting to the ever-changing landscape that is digital marketing.

At Dotdigital we immediately jumped into action and planned out how we can mitigate these changes for our customers. We’re pleased to say these changes have now been implemented and our customers have new ways of working with iOS 15 in mind.

What’s changed with iOS 15?

There were two key changes in the iOS 15 update, Mail Privacy Protection and Hide My Email. Mail Privacy Protection allows iOS 15 users to load email content privately, and not reveal their IP address. This means senders are unable to track opens, forwards, and the recipient’s precise location. Not ideal.

Hide My Email allows users to opt for an Apple-generated decoy email which will redirect to the customer’s real address. This has the potential to create a problem with unsubscribes and deliverability, and it can also affect attribution if a customer uses their real email address for a purchase.

Why has Apple done this?

Customer trust is an ongoing issue. Whilst customers may trust some brands, increasingly, they don’t trust marketers. As digital marketing has become more tailored and detailed, it has unnerved some customers. Alongside large data breaches which have made headlines over the past few years, customer trust is waning.

Apple is protecting its customers by allowing them to take back control of their own data. We must respect this shift and look at ways we can adapt.

Will iOS 15 affect marketing teams?

As this is on iOS 15, it will only affect those users who have an Apple product with the update installed. It’s also worth noting that these changes are optional, but the wording of the changes makes it highly likely people will switch to the new privacy options. By January 2022, iOS 15 is predicted to be at 90% adoption on all Apple mobile devices. This means 11% to 30% of all email open data will be inaccurate.

You can take a look into your account to see how many of your users are using iOS, but as this is part of a wider movement towards customers controlling their own data, and given that Apple is usually ahead of the trend in the tech space – it’s safe to presume this is the future. And we should get on board sooner rather than later.

How can marketers adapt to iOS 15?

Losing opens is undoubtedly a big shake-up. The metric was already on its way out due to its unreliability, but this has accelerated things. We recommend shifting your reliance on opens, to instead work with clicks, which is something we’ve enabled in our platform.

As long as you make clear it’s a value exchange and communicate why you want their data, ie. to be able to show them content they will like and to offer personalization, they will happily give you their data. Once they understand it helps them too, people are more open about sharing their information.

It’s also important not to assume and try to fill in the gaps yourself. A classic example is gender-based fashion items, a customer may tell you at signup that they’re female. You may then decide to only send them female-gendered items in your emails, however, this customer may prefer to shop in the male section or be buying for a partner or friend. This is where behavioral data comes in.

Whilst zero-party data comes directly from your customer, remember that it’s sometimes not as true as behavioral data. This is because people don’t necessarily know what they want, whereas behavioral data doesn’t lie. Tap into your onsite behavior metrics and previous purchasing data to give yourself a fuller and more reliable picture.

Another point to consider in all of this, you don’t have to rely on email just because you always have done. As cross-channel marketing becomes more and more prominent, don’t overlook the reporting on those other channels. Utilize your app if you have one, to gain insight and use that to influence your email marketing, types of emails you send, and which channels you use. Your different channels should inform and support each other, not work in silo.

How is Dotdigital responding to iOS 15 changes?

We have reviewed our features which use opens as a metric and we now offer an alternative. Things like split-tests will default to using clicks, not opens, and predictive models such as Send Time Optimization and eRFM will take opens out of the equation. You can choose whether or not to implement this in your account, learn how-to here.

So just remember, that, yes, it is a bit of a pain – but like with all change, we have solutions to overcome it. This update could even mean your reporting is more accurate than before and you may discover things about your customers you would have otherwise missed.

If you have any questions about how Dotdigital is working with these changes, please reach out to your Customer Success Manager who’ll be happy to chat it through.

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