Mail Privacy Protection by Apple

Mail privacy protection by Apple. Apple’s new iOS update with a brand-new Mail Privacy Protection policy is set to be a gamechanger for marketing automation processes. Email Open rates are relied on across industries as a key measure of campaign effectiveness. So what happens when that KPI can no longer be counted on? Well, that’s exactly what’s on the cards with this new policy.

Understanding that every second mobile phone in the UK is an iPhone and MacBook’s are no less popular – helps you realise the scale of that change. While some devices might be updated later than others meaning the real change will take several months, change is coming.

What is Mail Privacy Protection?

In a nutshell, Apple will open and download images for every email sent to its recipients, who have their email address configured in the MAIL app. This will happen before the recipient receives and opens the email. Ready for your open rates to skyrocket, but for all the wrong reasons?

Apple will not share the IP address or any other information about the email after it has been cached on their servers. That gives marketers a few problems, as you can imagine. So, to help you navigate this, here’s a few tips to consider implementing both in your current, live campaigns and in future planning.  

Hidden IP Address

Only basic region information will be shared with the email sender. Location, detailed IP address, device etc will no longer be available.

ProblemSolution & Actions
Email location tracking won’t allow you to track weather or trade objects (ie: a football stadium or shopping centre)Use an app if available and make it profitable for customers to accept your tracking in the app. Move more outbound communications to SMS and App where this kind of tracking remains paramount.
Unclear attribution – it will be difficult to connect the communication with a purchase or other actions that could have in the past be attributed to an email1. Focus more attention on trackable URLs in the email

2. Use codes, discounts and point systems
Social media attribution disturbed if it is based on IP addressEngage customers more on your social media platforms directly

Emails opened by Apple

All emails will be opened by the Apple server at the moment of sending if the email address is configured on the MAIL app on an ACTIVE Apple device.

ProblemSolution & Actions
– Open time and time spent reading will no longer be available

– Email senders might receive multiple opens per user if the user opened the email in the MAIL app and other app (Gmail, Outlook)

– Open Rates will no longer be a reliable metric

– Disturbed reports

– Send-Time Optimisation will be disturbed


1. Adjust your marketing KPIs. Open rate will no longer be an effective or precise measure because all Apple Mail recipients will appear to have opened the email, and at the same time.

2. Update automated journeys that use Email Open as a step trigger

3. Change segmentation/targeting based on customers opening emails

4. Change A/B testing scenarios if they’re using email opens as criteria

5. Verify your reports – look for other measures of engagement

6. Conversion matters – encourage your customers to click URLs in every possible way. Make interactions with your communications valuable and profitable for your customers.

Downloaded Images

When the email hits Apple servers all images are downloaded and cached.

ProblemSolution & Actions
Images will not be requested again when an email is reopenedIf using offer countdowns, use a CLICK button rather than dynamic fields, because countdowns will not be accurate. Also if using offer countdowns, avoid short time countdowns for this reason.
Real-time dynamic content will be affected for these emails1. Focus on segmentation prior the communication to better adjust content to customers.

2. Verify existing campaigns to avoid failures.

3. Make sure you have default versions of each communication set up for Apple MAIL users.
Apple can only cache active emails while the MAIL app is runningAnd that’s actually the bright side! Although we won’t know who opened email, at least we can see which subscribers’ emails are active!

Hide my email

This is not a part of Mail Privacy Protection, but an additional feature that is available for iCloud users now. How does it work? Safari suggests using an email alias in forms in place of an actual email address and keeps this connection with the original address as long as user wants it.

ProblemSolution & Actions
Inaccurate data in your database – matching and duplication with other databases will not be possible for these email addresses.Frequently ask customers to provide their data and confirm their email addresses. Make purchase processes rewarding for customers to provide their real email address
Disappearing email addresses without an unsubscribe action when the customer decides to cut off the alias. Ie: Customers can ‘unsubscribe’ without letting you know about it!  1. Implement processes to clean up the data frequently
2. Include an extra flag for email aliases

 These changes may seem like a spanner in the works for your marketing strategy but I like to think of them as a great opportunity to make marketing messages even more relevant for customers and prospects and to delve deeper into the possibilities that technology provides us to produce the most engaging emails we can.



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By Anna GieniuszSenior Consultant
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