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What’s the impact of Apple’s iOS 15 Update on Email Marketing?

  • What impact did Apple’s iOS 15 update have on email marketing?
  • 4 strategies email marketers should leverage to negate data privacy changes
  • Utilising the power of other messaging channels
  • Email delivery best practices


In September 2021, Apple introduced iOS 15, a major update with new features, including robust privacy protections, triggering mass hysteria among email marketers. Many feared that it would transform the email marketing landscape for the worst.

Data privacy concerns following the update were justified, given that iOS devices account for over 35% of the global email provider market share.


email marketing ios devices market share

Six months later, we will explore whether fears over GDPR changes were warranted or false alarms. We’ll also look at new strategies email marketers have adopted to comply with GDPR and adapt to the iOS update.

GDPR Email Marketing Compliance

What Impact Did Data Privacy Changes Have on Email Marketers?

Apple’s privacy update essentially divided iOS users into two categories:

  • Users who opt-in for device tracking via ads
  • Users who opt-out of device tracking

The change caused many email marketers to freak out because it brought about several headwinds, such as reduced visibility into the effectiveness of campaigns and poorer customer relationship management (CRM).

However, a Hubspot survey shows that the changes brought about by the update were not all bad, with 47% of respondents remaining neutral on the impact of data privacy changes and 24% claiming that the iOS update had a positive effect on their email marketing strategy.

The data revealed that only 29% of survey participants said that the data privacy update hurt their email marketing activity.

However, many email marketers were forced to adapt to remain competitive with location-based targeting, click-through rates, open rates, and A/B testing taking a hit.

Apple's New IOS 15 Update and its effects on email marketing

4 Strategies Email Marketers Are Using to Navigate Data Privacy Changes

According to recent research, these are the strategies email marketers are prioritising following Apple’s iOS 15 update:

#1 Tracking Different KPIs

One of the most profound actions we’ve seen email marketers undertake following the iOS 15 update is prioritising different key performance indicators (KPIs).

The update has made it incredibly difficult for email marketers to accurately track KPIs, particularly open rates, as users can now prevent companies from viewing this data.

To negate the impact, marketers have turned towards other KPIs such as email click-through rates, getting email web traffic, unsubscribe rates and revenue per email to measure the effectiveness of campaigns.

Clicks and Clickthrough Rate

Your click-through rate indicates how engaging your content is and will help you determine whether a subscriber has read your email.

Email marketing strategy

Suppose you include additional features such as click maps. In that case, you can also see exactly what users are clicking in your email, offering insight into the most engaging segments of your email.

As good practice, you should always include at least one call-to-action (CTA) link in your emails to encourage users to take a desirable action. Make sure you optimise your CTA and offer various click methods, whether a hyperlink, button or an image; it will help improve your CTR.

How to monitor the email traffic you get

For some brands, the goal behind their email marketing strategy may be to boost website traffic and generate leads instead of increasing engagement levels.

For example, you might send emails containing links to blog posts to encourage traffic to top-level web pages or provide links to product pages in hopes of converting subscribers to customers.

Monitoring website traffic and conversion rates from your email marketing efforts will offer good insight into the effectiveness of your campaigns, with high leads counts suggesting that you’ve successfully nurtured users into prospective clients.

If you’re looking to grow your international email marketing lists, or just national lists, include sign-up forms on landing pages and offer users attractive lead magnets such as valuable guides or discounts in exchange for their email data.

Email marketing unsubscribe rates: they’re not all bad!

Your unsubscribe rate will show how many people decided to opt-out of your mail list.

While many marketers are concerned about maintaining a growing email list, unsubscribes aren’t necessarily bad. If you look at it positively, the users that opt out are helping you clean your mailing list.

However, a spike in unsubscribes could suggest that you are sending out emails too frequently or the content is not valuable. On the other hand, a low unsubscribe rate would indicate that subscribers enjoy your content and you’re engaging your audience.

Revenue Per Email

iOS 15 set the beginning of the end of open rate tracking, and as a result, focusing on revenue per email metrics has become a staple for email marketers.

Revenue per email, also known as earnings per email, is a metric that allows you to identify the revenue you generate from each successful email sent to offer you a glimpse into your earnings.

To calculate revenue per email, take the total revenue generated by the campaign and divide it by the number of emails sent, minus the bounce rate.

#2 Using New Sources to Leverage User Data

Another popular strategy email marketers are using to negate the impact of data privacy changes is leveraging user data from other sources.

For example, looking at data from non-iOS users can provide insight into user behaviour and email open rates, among other important metrics.

You can also think about real-time needs to boost your campaign’s effectiveness by plugging triggered emails such as abandoned cart emails, product promotions and recommendations into the subscriber’s view based on opens and clicks.

#3 Utilise Other Messaging Channels

Email isn’t the only way to reach prospective customers, and marketing departments are making more effective use of other messaging channels such as SMS and push notifications.

According to recent research, approximately 51% of iOS users actively opt-in to receive push notifications, while 81% of Android users have opted in for the service.

While the average click-through rate at 2.25% is a little low, separate data shows that push notifications can boost ROI by up to 2200% and increase web traffic by 25%, making it a lucrative tool for businesses.

However, our readers that are more concerned about click-through and open rates should leverage SMS.

Statista revealed that approximately 6.65 billion, equal to 83.72% of the world’s population own a smartphone.

Still not convinced?

There are roughly 49 million people who have opted-in to receive marketing messages by text. Separate research has also shown that:

  • 91% of consumers are interested in receiving text messages from brands
  • 58% of consumers believe that SMS is the most effective form of brand communication
  • 51% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they receive a text message with images and media
  • SMS has a 98% open rate

So, while email marketing remains the most popular form of outbound marketing, in terms of ROI, it’s not the most effective and doesn’t generate as much engagement as other messaging channels such as SMS.

Outside of SMS, marketers should also look to leverage the power of social media, especially paid content, which has the highest ROI and engagement levels of any other marketing channel.

#4 Email delivery best practices

Following data privacy changes, email marketers are prioritising improving email deliverability.

Now, improving email deliverability does not start and end with creating engaging content. Many marketers struggled to get in front of their audience despite creating good email content.

Improving email deliverability means leveraging strategies such as:

  • Maintaining a clean mailing list
  • Ensuring all emails contain an unsubscribe link
  • Reducing spam by protecting your sender’s reputation
  • Complying with GDPR
  • Throttling your delivery by sending to smaller batches

With the supporting elements mentioned above in place, you’ll be able to avoid delivery nightmares and reach your subscribers.

Like any major marketing strategy, email marketers must learn to adapt to the ever-changing online landscape to navigate disruption stemming from updates around giving consumers greater control over their privacy.

Privacy features will continue to evolve and create new challenges for email marketers, who will need to take steps to create the same experience for users while making them feel secure online.

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