Apple announced the release of a new privacy feature in iOS 15 and Mac OS Monterey. As Mailchimp users, your contacts using Apple Mail now have the option to enable a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection, which will limit the ability to accurately determine:
- Whether or when an email has been opened
- Where a contact is located when they open it
- The type of device and client a contact is using when they open it
This change may affect how marketers measure the success of their email campaigns and how they engage their contacts. Rest assured that even with these changes:
- Your emails will continue to be delivered to your contacts who use Apple Mail
- Engagement within an email (click activity and click rate) will still be reported for your contacts who use Apple Mail.
In this article, we’ll answer common questions about how these changes impact you.
How does open tracking work today, and how does Apple Mail Privacy Protection change it?
Currently, with open tracking enabled, Mailchimp places a tiny, transparent image (a single pixel that isn't visible in the email) into each email campaign. The pixel loads each time the email is opened, which we count and report. Opens help us estimate a contact's location and time zone, as well as determine device type and email client.
If a contact enables Apple Mail Privacy Protection, Apple Mail will preload pixels, even if your contact hasn’t opened the email, resulting in unreliable open metrics. We will not be able to accurately count opens, estimate location, or determine device type or email client for these contacts. With Apple Mail Privacy Protection enabled, it is likely that all email present in Apple Mail will be reported as "opened" regardless of the contact's activity, resulting in inflated and inaccurate open rates.
Does this affect email opened in any other apps?
No. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature only applies to Apple Mail users for now.
How does this impact my Mailchimp account?
We anticipate impacts to your Mailchimp account from Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection feature.
Campaign reports might show distorted numbers for opens, a lower “Clicks per unique open” rate, and potentially inaccurate geolocation and email client reporting for any contacts who use Apple Mail and enable the Mail Privacy Protection feature.
Because the IP addresses will be obscured for contacts who opt into Mail Privacy Protection, you may notice fewer contacts in segments targeted to a location.
Resend to non-openers will not be delivered to contacts that opt-in to Apple Mail’s Privacy Protection feature.
The results of A/B tests that are based on open rates may not be accurate.
Any Customer Journeys or Classic Automations and automations triggered based on opens will automatically be sent to a larger audience. If the trigger is based on a “not-open”, it will be sent to a smaller audience. Consider expanding your trigger criteria to include other engagement criteria like clicks or purchases. We suggest pausing your active automations triggered based off of opens to preserve historic metrics.
Contact ratings of Apple Mail users will be higher than expected based on inflated open rates.
Although reported opens by Apple Mail users may inflate your overall open rates, you’ll still be able to see other data from your email campaigns. Clicks and purchases are stronger signs of engagement than opens, and we don’t expect these to be impacted by Apple Mail Privacy Protection.
How can I prepare for this update?
Understand the size of the impact. To get an idea of the potential impact to your open rates, you can check how many contacts in your audience use Apple Mail. The greater the percentage of your audience that uses Apple Mail, the more likely you’ll see inflated open rates as a result of the new Mail Privacy Protection feature.
Change how you measure success in your email campaigns. If you’re not already doing so, we recommend you focus on clicks as part of your email strategy. Also monitor your bounces, unsubscribes, and conversions. If your account is connected to an e-commerce store, you should also consider purchase data as a metric.
Collect location info directly from your contacts. To populate your Audience Fields with city or ZIP code data, consider using a Mailchimp survey or form to ask contacts where they are located. To maximize your reach, you can create segments that combine audience fields with your contacts’ self-reported location information.
Review your segments. If you’ve defined segments based on opens, contact rating, email client, location, or email marketing engagement, consider whether other operators or parameters are more appropriate.
Update your active Customer Journeys or Classic Automations. If your trigger is based on opens, consider revising it to include stronger engagement criteria like clicks or purchases. If you want to preserve your historical data about your existing journey or automation, consider pausing it and creating a new one instead.
Use different criteria when you resend a campaign. Because all emails to Apple Mail users may look as though they’ve been opened, resending to “did not open” may not reach as many contacts as you want. When you resend your campaign, consider sending to “did not click.”
Use a different method to identify a contact’s email client. Although data about your contacts’ email client may be misleading when based solely on opens, data based on clicks is more accurate.
Check your webhooks. If you use our Marketing or Transactional APIs, you’ll see inflated open rates in your webhooks, so consider whether to make any adjustments to how those are set up. Watch our Release Notes page for additional updates.
Can I estimate location and determine device type of clients who opt into Apple Mail’s Privacy Protection?
The location and device can't be determined based solely on opens for contacts who opt in to Mail Privacy Protection; however, we use other information such as sign up forms and click data to help you identify where your contacts are located.
How can I measure engagement without relying exclusively on opens?
We’ll keep our Apple Mail Privacy Protection page updated as we learn more and have additional recommendations. If you use our Marketing or Transactional APIs, you can monitor any changes we might make on our Release Notes page. If you have other concerns, please contact our customer support team.