Apple's Mail Privacy Protection: What You Need to Know
Apple's Mail Privacy Protection: What You Need to Know
In this episode, hosts Bobby and Cole dive into everything marketers need to know around Apple's iOS 15 update and the Mail Privacy Protection that is coming later this year. They share an overview of the feature, what it really means for marketers, and what marketers can do to ensure it doesn't hinder their marketing strategy.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the In the Clouds Podcast. In the clouds is a marketing cloud podcast powered by Lev, the most influential marketing- focused Salesforce consultancy in the world. Lev is customer experience obsessed and podcast host Bobby Tichy and Cole Fisher have partnered with some of the world's most well- known brands to help them master meaningful, one- on- one connections with their customers. In this podcast, they'll combine strategy and deep technical expertise to share best practices, how- tos, and real- life use cases and solutions for the world's top brands using Salesforce products today.
Bobby Tichy: Welcome to In the Clouds podcast, this is Bobby Tichy along with Cole Fisher and today we're going to dive into everything around the iOS 15 update and the Mail Privacy Protection that will be rolling out later this year, the overview of it, what it entails, what it means for marketers and really how to react to it and how to make sure that you're moving forward. So, Cole, if you don't mind, just kind of starting with the overview of the mail privacy protection piece that Apple's going to be rolling out and what it will really affect as far as users are concerned.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. So I think this has caused a lot of stir and some panic, honestly, for a lot of marketers right now. But Mail Privacy Protection. So, iOS 14 had come out and there were implications for ads and ad marketers. Now iOS 15 is going to be the latest update and this is for the mail app on your mobile, on iPads, on macOS, Monterey devices. This is going to give people the option to not share their open information. And so Apple actually came out and they said in a statement, they're like, " Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about users." So it's going to stop senders from knowing when they open an email, it masks the IP address so can't be linked to online activity that is usually used to tell about their location. So what this actually entails is three different components. First off, so to explain how we render opens in reporting as marketers, typically what that means is there's a mail tracking pixel and that's going to stop loading. And so Apple Mail is going to start running images through proxy servers. And that's going to remove that capability of actually having an image- based tracking pixel that loads and reports to us when that message gets opened up. So it's not automatically turned off, but the users upon the first time of activating iOS 15, they're going to have the option to opt out of allowing that pixel to render. The second component of this is removing location data. So a lot of the times we use IP address to tell us where somebody is for our reporting. And so what Apple is going to be doing, it's not necessarily a VPN, but traffic is going to run through Apple servers and a third party server to remove identifying information. And apparently that third- party server is going to remove it from Apple's capability to see it as well. I've not really heard the details on that, but that's what they allege. But traffic that leaves a user's device will be encrypted so that a third- party can't see what they're looking at or searching for. And then the last component of this is actually a hide my email feature. So certain subscribers, like iCloud subscribers, are able to basically have burner accounts for email addresses. So they're going to be creating temporary anonymous email addresses that they can just basically ditch after that, inside the mail app. So that's going to be a little bit of a pump fake. We don't know what these... I don't know at this point, what these sort of hidden or burner email addresses look like. There may be certain characters or identifiers that allow us to see what that is and maybe thus we don't drop them into permanent audiences. But that one's still a little bit of a mystery. And so this is actually being betaed starting in July. And the official launch is supposed to be sometime between September and November of 2021. So these are going to be some pretty big changes.
Bobby Tichy: Well, the hide my email feature is actually already in place today. And I don't know if it's to this extent, but when you sign up for a subscription through Apple, so for example, let's say that you sign up for HBO max through that subscription, you can decide if you want to share your actual email address with HBO, or if it's a masked one that Apple's providing on your behalf, and then it will ultimately redirect it to whatever email you use for your Apple ID. So I'm assuming they'll use that same kind of feature functionality for the hide my email feature.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. And the funny thing is, we'll get to this point, but like a lot of these things really shouldn't be earth shattering right now because permutations of these already exist and marketers already deal with this. It's maybe just not at super high volumes yet, or we've not seen a lot of this yet, but there's sort of like iterations of this that are already in place that marketers have or should have been dealing with in the past. It's not crazy novel. It feels like a bigger impact. And that'll be one of our points is, this isn't really freak out time. It shouldn't be.
Bobby Tichy: Right. So we've got this new feature that's going to roll out. People will have the opportunity once they upgrade to iOS 15 and they open their mail app for the first time, they'll be able to select whether or not they want to hide their activity or not. So that's another big piece of this too, is that not everyone may decide to hide it, but it really shouldn't matter, to your point. And so that parlays us into the next point of this is, what this really means for marketers and how they should be reacting to it.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. So I think the first thing that we need to think about is reframing the conversation of how we view consumer data. Data is so valuable to marketers and we own data, it's the most prized possession. I think that conversation needs to be kind of shifted in the framework of, you didn't own the data. You never did. As a marketer, it's not your data. It belongs to the customer. Any customer data you have always belongs to the customer. This is only forcing us to abide by that. But the fact of matter, is with CCPA, GDPR, and these regulations that come into play, they're reinforcing the fact that customers own their data and they should. The data never actually belonged to marketers, customer data didn't belong to marketers. We have permission to use it. And if we provide enough value, if we provide proper personalization and high segmentation and a proper customer experience, then we're rewarded with being allowed to continue to use that customer data to the customer's benefit. So I think this just helps us reframe what that conversation needs to look like. The other point is that, what is advantageous or beneficial to a customer doesn't necessarily mean it's a negative to the marketer. It's not a zero sum game in that if a customer wants to have a certain experience, feel protected, own their data, or be stingy with who they share this data with, then that shouldn't negatively impact a marketer. It's kind of like unsubscribes in an email. If someone's telling you that they want to unsubscribe, it's not a disadvantage for a marketer. We look at that as an advantage because now we get to stop sending to an unengaged waste of messaging and content and effort. If they don't want to hear from us, you shouldn't want to pester them, right? It's not zero sum. It should be really beneficial. And when we stop as marketers, we stop viewing this as we act like big brother and if this is somebody that we're not providing value to, marketing is supposed to be serving, informing and providing value to customers or prospects. If that's not the case, then their privacy and preference should be absolutely fundamental to how we operate as marketers. And then I think the last point for us as we think about how this rolls out, is that maybe not everybody's going to be adopting this right away. It's not going to be a flip the switch. So I think first off, if we've been marketing properly, then there's all these stats, and I think Accenture has one of the latest ones that says 83% of consumers are willing to share data as long as it creates a more personalized experience for them. And this goes exponential for younger demographics and things like that, where we don't mind sharing data because we know it personalizes the experience and we appreciate that. If I'm going to be served ads or content or a web experience, I want it to be at least relevant to me. I know they're going to serve me something. It might as well be content that I've expressed an interest in. So if I opt to share my opens, it's me rewarding my marketers because they've been providing a good experience. If we haven't been, then they're probably more likely to opt out of sending opens. But I think the thing for us is, this is not panic time. So for a lot of customers, first off, it's going to be an assessment for all organizations on what does their user base look like? Are they 50/ 50 iPhones and Androids when it comes to mobile? Is Apple mail... I've seen everything from 10 to 11.5, 12%. I think Litmus, Bobby, you pointed out, had 11. 5% Apple mail clients. iPhone was 38. 9%. These could be pretty big impactors. Your organization may look very different, depending on your product services, whatever else you may be. However, you attracted a demographic. Yours may be very different. You may be entirely dependent on iOS 15 and early adopters. And so you could be seeing these impacts earlier than everybody else. But I would expect that adoption of this feature would be gradual. And some customers will still simply just want their personalized experience. But I think the last thing that we as marketers should really consider is, what exactly the open means for us. That's the big loss, the feeling of a loss here is that we're no longer seeing opens potentially with some of our email clients. Are opens the real end all, be all? And Bobby, you and I have talked about this before, but it may not have been a concrete KPI all along. So first off, this tracking pixel being turned off, anyone with images turned off right now, or ISP that don't render images, they're also not loading your tracking pixel. So you're also not getting opens necessarily on those, unless they're opting into the images. So there's already wiggle room where we're not seeing a 100% accurate data here, but we've been okay with looking at the lion's share and saying, " Okay, we think this is relatively accurate." And for the most part it is. But when we think about the really important metrics here, opens aren't nearly as important as clicks, conversions, time on site, product views, things like that, that are really much more accurate signals for success metrics, what's actually working versus what's not. We had a conversation earlier and I was kind of likening this to clickbait. Even when you A/ B test your subject lines, what you're actually finding is a lot of the times, if you're basing that on opens rather than conversions, there's a difference at the end of that funnel. What your opens are telling you is what seems to be a more provocative statement. What's a more exciting subject line that gets the open, but the open's not what we get success on. You're likely not making revenue off of an open, if you're an email marketer. What really happens is crosstalk. Yeah. Go ahead.
Bobby Tichy: I was going to say, and I think a couple things. One, to your point about the personalization, I think one thing that marketers have trouble with now is that not a lot of marketers even have the time or the tools or solutions to be able to provide those personalized experiences. So while some marketers might freak out about losing some kind of data, I would be curious to see how many of them are actually using this type of data to drive some of their campaigns. Certainly some of them are, but it kind of goes back to, we consistently hear that marketers want real- time data, but then when you ask them what would they do with that real time data, " Well, I'm not sure. I just need it."
Cole Fisher: Yeah.
Bobby Tichy: Kind of taking a step back and reevaluating what you need and based on that, what you're going to be using. Another example I always like to think of is, we've had some customers in the past say, " We're not ready to roll out our SMS program yet, but should we go ahead and start collecting people's SMS opt- ins?" Well, absolutely not. If at the time that I'm opting into something, I expect something from you. And to Accenture's point that you mentioned around personalized experience, I'm happy to give you my information if it means that I'm going to have a better experience or you're going to show me products that are more relevant to me. But if you're just going to collect my data to collect it and put it on a shelf for six months and then start messaging to me, or personalizing to me, it's going to be out of sight out of mind, or it's going to be the adverse effect where I'm not interested in anymore because at the time I was, but now I'm not. And then you just hit me with something that seems like it's spam. And then to your point about the different email clients, it's really important to understand that email clients certainly have a piece of your marketing strategy, specifically when it comes to content because different clients run their things differently. But it has gotten a lot better. So just piggybacking off that point, it's not a make or break type of a scenario, especially when we think about opens not being a real concrete KPI anyway.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. I really like your point too, about that reactive, real time reactions, something like especially SMS. If I'm giving you information and I get this later on, you start up your program three or six months later and then you start your first SMS campaign to me. I've either forgotten about it, my preferences or needs have entirely changed, or I'm going to feel invaded, or there's also that thing where I sign up for an email or something like that, and I don't get a response or a welcome in the first couple of hours. I'm like, " Oh, my information is just kind of like floating out there and somebody has it and I'm not getting anything for it." There was supposed to be a trade off here. I was supposed to receive information on giving you mine. There's something that's inherently really... And I could really geek out on a psychological impact of this called dynamic inconsistency, whereas things change at different points in times, even preferences, and shopping habits, and a product you're looking for. If you're not reacting right away, then this has big implications. And when we're using opens as a metric, that's not really giving us any of this big time information. So opens almost is one of the most deceptive KPIs that we generally use as everyday metrics.
Bobby Tichy: For marketers who potentially do leverage opening as a KPI or a metric or really just marketers in general as we think about this mail privacy protection, how should they prepare or react as this starts to roll out inaudible?
Cole Fisher: Yeah. That's a fair question. First off, I think part of it is just assessing the impact on your organization. So, yeah, let's look at what the breakdown is of devices and platforms. How many do we see on iOS versus... So if you were a content marketer and this would be where opens really is the metric for you because you're not sending traffic anywhere, then yeah, this is going to be a pretty big deal for you. So maybe there's a metric aside from just opens where you're extrapolating the non iOS 15 opens, and you're using that to predict the average or something like that, where you're still getting content out there. And maybe that's a way that you adapt. I think part of it is, this just reinforces the importance of cross channel reach. So if you have SMS in place, or an app or web or effectively using ads, this only reinforces the need for other channels than just email. If you're focusing solely on one leg of the chair, then a little change like this can have a much more devastating impact or cause a lot more panic. The other thing right now is that it's important too, as we go through this sort of like self assessment, to look at the assets we have in place. So content, especially like journeys or automations, what are our impacts here? Re- engagement campaigns, a lot of these times are built solely on opens. And if that's the case we need to go in and update those. A, first things first, run re-engagement campaigns now, if they are based on opens. And then, if there are other journeys and or campaigns where decisioning and orchestration is based upon opens, then we're going to want to change those up to be some sort of clicks, or conversions, or things like that. We're also going to need to rethink what re- engagement looks like when we don't see opens. And it puts, again, that more emphasis on stitching that identity of cross channel capability together. So one thing that we don't really know is if or how the email tracking will impact Honeypot and spam trap emails. So this is still important to keep re- engagement in mind because we don't know if that's going to change the thresholds. Now that we can't see opens, are ISPs going to be as strict about their spam trap emails. And then the other thing as we go through looking at journeys and automations and things like that is just rethinking how we subject line test. So, again, to reinforce that fact of, is our A/ B testing really looking at opens properly, and is that really the equivalent to clickbait? Just telling us what sounds more important versus what is more correlated to the content and more likely to get conversions inside? So clicks and conversion rates are certainly better predictors of your performance than opens are. And then the last thing too, is AI or machine learning model impacts. If we're using opens anywhere as a coefficient and an algorithm for certain affinities or send time optimization, profiling, segmentation. Those are things that we're going to want to... That open as a metric either needs to be removed or revamped in some way. But I think the last thing for marketers, honestly, and how we react to this or how we prepare for these sweeping changes is, it sounds odd, but we should be oddly comfortable with this. The takeaway is do nothing differently than you've already been doing this. So as marketers, if we're actually practicing what we preach, we're constantly iterating on our marketing strategy. We're always trying new things. We're A/ B testing, we're optimizing, we're looking at the data and we're challenging the interpretation of the data, and we're trying new things constantly. So many of us as marketers have already gotten to the point where opens are a shifty at best metric that we use, maybe there are more important things like conversions that we should be looking at, at the very end of this funnel to tell us how good these subject lines are, for instance. This normal analyzing, testing, optimizing, and gradual iterative roll- outs, these are patterns of behavior that we marketers should be used to. It's status quo for us at this point. So changing something else really should be a pretty welcomed normal piece of this pattern of behavior. So my encouragement would be, do this proactively. iOS 15, won't be the only one that offers this. This will become the normative expectation. So the panic will really be on those that are either heavy, heavy, open and content- related, or the panic is really coming from those that are being more reactive to it and trying to fight off or stave off from this change. So my encouragement would be keep acting like marketers because we've always been changing or having some sort of organization- wide impact or new thing we want to try or experiment with. So I would encourage continuing to do that and looking at those metrics and analysis of the data and challenging what those interpretations mean. Because when we challenged it, that's when we found out that opens weren't really telling us everything we thought they were telling us to begin with.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. I think you hit it on the head there at the end, too, that this isn't going to be the exception, this is going to be the norm as we continue to get further and further down the path of consumer privacy. So figuring out the best way to not only determine our KPIs, but then be able to track them without these, what we would think of as arbitrary metrics, is going to be really key. So thanks a bunch for going through that. Jumping over to completely unrelated, your favorite iPhone app?
Cole Fisher: That's it. Well, it's only quasi unrelated because we're still on iPhone technically.
Bobby Tichy: That's true.
Cole Fisher: I look at my home screen, it's mostly work apps like slack and Google Drive and things like that because that's the stuff I use most frequently. If I think about recreation, well, I guess I would say two, one of which I wouldn't put as my favorite, but I would say it was really interesting. The one when I'm in the airport and there's just two more minutes and I just don't want to stare at my email anymore and I want some mind numbing, like we have no service, the flight's about to take off, that's when I just bust out Euchre. And I just relax and let my mind to go a little bit and just sort of enjoy the easy odds of Euchre playing. There was one app that I thought was really interesting and it was called Sonar. I'm sure it's still around. But what it would basically do was... It's super creepy. But this hearkens back to that effect of if I'm receiving a benefit from it, I don't mind sharing as a consumer. I don't mind sharing my information. So Sonar was an app that would let you stitch your geolocation with LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, things like that. And so you could walk into a restaurant or a concert or anything like that and it would say, " Hey, you're at this location and you have three LinkedIn connections here, and two Facebook friends, and then four people that follow you on Twitter are also here."
Bobby Tichy: Ooh, I don't like that. That's creepy.
Cole Fisher: But it was so novel when it came out, I was like, " Oh, that's pretty wild." Because you just walk in and are like, " Oh, hey, I know someone here." But, yeah. After a little bit I was like, " I'm going to go ahead and dial that one back and not have that anymore." But some people love that. It does sound a little big brother- ish, but as a total extrovert it wasn't unwelcome to me at first. Like, " Hey, I want to know who I know here. Oh, so- and- so is here from LinkedIn. I'm going to go track him down and find him and have a beer or something." But after a while I was kind of like, "I don't know that I want to know like this. This feels creepy on my end as well as theirs." Because they're on Sonar allowing this.
Bobby Tichy: I'm just picturing you walking up to every table at a restaurant and being like, " Do you follow me on Twitter? Do you follow me on Twitter? I know one of you do."
Cole Fisher: Are you crosstalk? Are you Phil? Are you... Which one of you is this? Is this your profile pic?
Bobby Tichy: And then you get the fun activity of looking at someone's profile picture and then realizing that it's from three years ago in the best lighting that they've ever had. And then you see them in person. You're like, " Ooh, Phil, what happened?"
Cole Fisher: What about you? Favorite iPhone app?
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. I was thinking about this as we were talking about the topic of... We probably should have prefaced it of favorite iPhone app or the most used iPhone app that you have on your phone. Because I love the Gmail app because here at Lev we run on Gmail. So I love utilizing the Gmail app because I actually think it's better than the desktop version on the web because you can snooze, you can categorize things, it makes it super easy. But I think it'd be a tie between photos, just my photos, but also with Joni, my wife's, photos. What I try to do just about every week is, she takes a ton of photos just throughout the week or throughout the day, so I love going through and seeing what photos she's taken of our dogs or if we went somewhere, and she takes much more photos than I do. But I found myself recently going to photos and then going way back up to the top, to the beginning. I think mine starts at 2014 so it's got seven years of photos in there, and I'll just kind of scroll for a while and then stop it and then see wherever it stopped and go down memory lane, to your point where you just got a couple of minutes and you don't have access to internet or anything like that. So it's probably photos. Although I will say, you're probably going to be ashamed of me for saying this, I don't know that I know how to play Euchre.
Cole Fisher: Oh, and you were born in Indiana?
Bobby Tichy: No, I wasn't. I was born in Illinois.
Cole Fisher: Oh, Wow. But you grew up in Indiana, how can you not know how to play Euchre?
Bobby Tichy: I know, I know.
Cole Fisher: It's such a Midwestern thing though. It's just a fun, easy game, and it's more luck than skill. Lucky players can beat skilled players, which is kind of the equalizer. But, no. That's one of my favorite card games, which probably just described what a Midwestern simpleton I really am.
Bobby Tichy: Instead of Euchre I prefer gambling because that's obviously all skill and no luck and I always win so...
Cole Fisher: Naturally.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah, exactly. Actually, I've loaned quite a bit of money to Vegas from all of my winning so that they can build those casinos.
Cole Fisher: So, you're welcome.
Bobby Tichy: Loan, loss, same thing. Awesome. Well, thanks everybody for listening. As always, you can reach us at intheclouds @ levdigital. com. If you have any questions, ideas for topics, we'd love to hear from you. As always, thanks, Cole, and we'll talk to you next time.