Email Marketing

iOS 17 and Privacy: A Sneak Peek for Email Marketers

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In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, change is the only constant. The upcoming Apple iOS 17 update is one such change that’s creating major buzz in our community.

While this post is intended to be a helpful preview of the new release, it’s important to note that it’s not a comprehensive guide or the absolute source of truth. Instead, consider it an initial source of information on what changes iOS 17 will bring.

Getting friendly with iOS 17

Apple’s iOS 17 is the latest privacy-centric update from the tech giant.

Whether you’re an email marketer, a subscriber, or simply an Apple user, it’s important to understand what these changes mean for you. From enhanced privacy features to new user interface elements, iOS 17 is poised to redefine the Apple user experience.

iOS 15: pioneering privacy changes  

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Back in 2021, Apple introduced several new features designed to enhance user experience and privacy in their iOS 15 operating systems.  

The infamous Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) prevented senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the end recipient.  

As a result, marketers no longer know when an email is opened or if it was opened by a real human, which can significantly impact email marketing strategies.  

Mail Privacy Protection also offered “Hide My Email,” a paid feature that lets users create unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inboxes. This affects how marketers track and segment their audiences. 

The impact of the iOS 15 update was significant, and we covered it many times in various blog posts, webinars, and as a new functionality in the Everest platform 

Unfortunately, just as the shockwaves of iOS 15 seem to have died down, Apple is at it again. 

Impact of the iOS 17 rollout on email marketers and subscribers 

As we anticipate the arrival of iOS 17, staying informed and adapting to these changes is crucial for email marketers and subscribers.

Here are three key points to know about the new release:

Enhanced user privacy with Link Tracking Protection (LTP)

Link Tracking Protection (LTP) is a new feature that will be available for Messages, Mail, and Safari Private Browsing. The idea behind this feature is to allow for more user privacy. This is done by eliminating user-specific tracking query parameters from the URL during browser navigation.

I’ll talk more about the implications of LTP, but here is Apple’s official announcement.

I also recommend checking out this blog post if you want to really geek out and get an in-depth look at it.

Which parameters will be stripped?

When researching, I discovered that Apple’s list of URL query parameters that get stripped from the URL are likely to be coming from a list of “tracking query parameter tests” from this website: Keep in mind that this may very well change when the official rollout is made later in 2023, so keep an eye on this!

Overview of the possible impact on email marketing

Email marketers are already concerned about the possibility of the new release impacting their email strategy. Spoiler alert: it could! Let’s say a marketer sends out an email campaign to promote a new product. Most likely, the email content will include links directing the reader to sections of the brand’s website, such as a specific product page, a gallery containing selected products, or even a contact page.

Link tracking allows marketers to understand where people are clicking, and which sections of the website are generating the most interest and engagement. They can also track conversions, such as how many recipients clicked on the product page where the purchase was made. Using this type of data, marketers can measure the success of their email campaigns, make informed decisions about future campaigns, and optimize their websites based on user behavior.

With the introduction of LTP in iOS 17, certain tracking parameters in URLs will be automatically removed, making it harder for marketers to attribute website visits or conversions back to specific campaigns. It may also impact their ability to personalize content based on user interactions and limit retargeting capabilities. 

To adapt, marketers will need to find new ways to measure campaign success, such as focusing on bottom-of-the-funnel metrics like purchases and website authentication, leveraging contextual data, and using privacy-first attribution models like Apple’s Private Click Measurement (PCM).

Additionally, marketing automation platforms may need to update their systems to address the changes and maintain proper functionality. However, this could turn into a ‘whack-a-mole’ situation if Apple decides to constantly update this list just as it’s done with ad blockers and their filter lists. 

It will be important for marketers to stay informed about these developments and adapt their tracking strategies accordingly. The extent of these impacts will depend on the adoption of iOS 17 and its privacy features by Apple users, as well as any updates from Apple between now and the official release.

How can we help mitigate the impact?

Don’t stress out too much yet. With the right knowledge and strategies, these challenges can be managed effectively.

Remember, staying updated on the latest email trends and technology changes is crucial in this ever-evolving digital landscape. Save your spot for the next episode of State of Email Live, where we will continue to talk about iOS 17 and share our insights on technology changes. Until next time!