Apple iOS 15 will break your email marketing - here are 3 vital preparations

Apple iOS 15 will break your email marketing - here are 3 vital preparations

Underwaterpistol reveals what email marketers need to know about Apple’s latest iOS 15 upgrade, and why it’s time to rethink what makes a good email strategy.

There are hundreds of blog articles (including this one) on how Apple’s upcoming iOS 15 launch will change the landscape of email marketing for good. 

However, with a host of sub-comments calling it ‘the final nail in email’s coffin’, you might be wondering whether their scepticism is justified.

Spoiler alert: It’s not. 

Here, we reveal what impact the release will have on your email marketing metrics, what that means for your business, and how to refine your strategy. 


What’s happening with the iOS 15 release?

The new iOS 15 launch will come with a new Mail Privacy Protection setting on the Apple Mail app. This is prompted to the user as soon as they open the app for the first time after upgrading their OS.

If they accept it, Apple Mail will then send the user’s emails to a proxy server, which will preload all images, including the tracking pixel.

As a result, all emails will be registered as opened (even if they’re not), and email marketers will start to see a lot of inflated open rates.


Are users likely to enable this option?

With all the press surrounding data privacy and tech companies at the moment – plus the stats from previous privacy releases – it’s expected that a high number of Apple users will enable this feature.


What does this mean for email marketing?

Accurately measuring and focusing on open rates is a no-go going forward. Your brand will need to rely on other, arguably more powerful, metrics from now on.

Deliverability will also become harder to determine, as open rates will no longer give a true indication of how healthy your mailing lists are.

As much, you  need to look at other ways of gauging engagement. For example, click rates will become more useful than ever, as will conversion rates and seeing who’s active on your site.

Meanwhile, any segmentation or automated flows that rely heavily on open rates will need to be altered, as the data will no longer be reliable.


Is there a way to get around this?

No. But change happens all the time, and this is probably (in the long run) going to be a good way for marketers to determine what’s really important when interpreting valuable customer engagement.


What can be done to prepare for the update?

It’s time for all brands to change their way of thinking when it comes to the metrics they track, and what makes up a successful email strategy.

It may also mean there need to be a few tweaks to your segmentation, as well as ways of determining who is an engaged and who is an unengaged subscriber.


#1 Engagement metrics

With open rates out of the question, email marketers need to start looking at other engagement metrics, and making these the forefront of their reporting.


  • Already a vital part of any successful email marketing strategy, the amount of clicks your emails receive determines how many users are actually interested in your content.
  • This is the key message: make your content compelling, make what you’re saying of value to your subscriber and they will want to engage with you.
  • Remember, your subscribers have literally given you their data and asked you to get in touch with them about your brand. They want to hear from you – just make sure what you’re saying is what they want to hear.
  • This includes A/B tests. Rather than focusing on testing subject lines or send times – which are all related to open rates – try testing content variants so you can get a feel for the tone and messaging your subscribers want.


  • Finding out how many subscribers buy your product or reach a ‘goal’ is the point of the game. But this goes hand in hand with refining content to increase engagement.
  • If no one clicks on your emails, no one is buying your products.


#2 Segmentation

 Any segmentation that heavily relies on open rates will need to be altered. Prime examples that come to mind are unengaged or ‘very engaged’ segments.

Currently, these will likely be based on users who have both opened and clicked X number of emails in X amount of time.

This is the same for segments that will be used for data cleansing; any reliance on open rates will need to be removed, and the emphasis on clicks included.

After the release of iOS 15, the amount of users in these segments will change dramatically, as everyone (on Apple Mail at least) will be ‘opening’ your emails.

 Any location-based segment will be impacted also if your ESP bases profiles on IP address collection upon sign-up.


#3 Automation

As complex as some automated journeys are, the new iOS update will have an impact cross-sector and across multiple industries.

The immediate one that comes to mind – which ties nicely with data cleansing (as mentioned above) – is an ‘unengaged’ flow. This sends emails based on a user’s lack of interaction with your brand, and they’ll receive two or three trying to encourage them to re-engage.

Previously, the goal would simply be to get users to start opening emails again. Now, brands can’t consider someone re-engaged without them clicking inside the email.

Other examples may include an automated series that features a discount, or a post-purchase series – both of which send a follow-up to anyone who hasn’t opened the email.

Of course, anyone using the Apple Mail app will be seen to have opened these initial emails. Therefore, the trigger of these emails will need to change to prevent a lot of disjointed journeys.


On the plus side...

… This new release isn’t due for an official roll-out until autumn, so there’s time to continue performing tests on subject lines and send times to create benchmarks for future campaigns. You and your email marketing agency can also spend this time redefining the rules for segmentation and automation before you hit the ground running. 

Are you looking for such an agency? Here at Underwaterpistol, we can help you make these changes, quickly and easily.

Just get in touch with our team of ecommerce experts today.