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Apple Email Privacy Protection


Apple is adding privacy protection for its email product. We will no longer rely on open rates to measure email performance, automation, and testing. As marketers, we need to evolve our email marketing segmentation and success tactics. 

What is Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection?

The short answer is that Mail Privacy Protection gives Apple’s Mail app users the option of hiding if and when they open marketing emails. This feature became available as of September 2021.

What can this affect?

Open rates

Apple now pre-loads email data whether you opened an email or not. This sends a false positive that the email was opened when it was not. This will increase your Open rate metric, but with false positives, you can’t rely on this for measuring email program success.

Click to open rate CTOR will probably decrease.

  • CTOR is the number of unique clicks your email receives divided by the number of unique opens.
  • Why do marketers use this? It measures how effectively their content motivates users to click on elements like a button or phone number on an email. 
  • However, since CTOR is a function of your email opens, Apple’s new privacy changes cause your CTOR to plummet downwards artificially. That makes CTOR an unreliable metric going forward.

Marketing automation

  • Most engaged and least engaged email segments can suffer from artificially inflating numbers.
  • Resending emails to people that don’t open your first email
  • Automated email series that is based on the sender previously opening your previous email in the series.
  • A/B subject line testing to see what message resonates with consumers the most before mass sending an email.

Individual User data

  • Time an email was opened
  • Device Used to open an email.
  • The location from which an email was opened

What can your business do to combat the increasing mail privacy issues?

Add more measuring metrics beyond open rate; this includes

  • Conversion rate
    • How many users complete a goal on your website/landing page.
  • List Growth Rate
    • How fast your email list grows vs. unsubscribes
  • Focus Clicks to website
    • Measure email success if the user saw your landing page. A top goal of any email campaign is to drive users to your site to pitch/sell them your product. Now is the time to make sure email content motivates people to click on your call to action (CTA)
  • Unsubscribes
    • The higher these are, the worst for the business. Put monetary value to unsubscribes. For example, if it costs you $50 to capture and email, every unsubscribe charge yourself an imaginary $50. This will change your blast-all mentality. 


  • Avoid triggers based on opens instead, focus on other actions like:
    • Clicks on a particular link or piece of content
    • Time-based triggers (send email two X days after email one)
    • Date-based triggers, like birthday and anniversary emails
    • Ecommerce behavior triggers, like abandoned cart emails
    • Took action on your landing page

Switch to SMS marketing

You could segment your apple users and send them SMS instead of emails. You can still email Gmail, outlook, yahoo, etc.. through email.

Other email tactics Apples privacy protection can affect

  • Any audience cohort, segmentation, or targeting based on the last open date is near useless—especially critical for purging unengaged contacts.
  • Automated flows and journeys that rely on someone opening an email need to get re-engineered.
  • A/B testing subject lines (or anything else) using opens to determine the winner or to automatically send out the winner don’t work as well anymore.
  • Send time optimization is now inaccurate if your email tool hasn’t reworked its algorithm to exclude opens.
  • Countdown timers will show outdated times as the cached version was pulled at sent time, not opened time.
  • Other content powered by opens such as local weather or nearest store location also aren’t accurate.
  • Some interactive emails that reference external CSS don’t work.

As technology progresses, so will privacy protocols. As marketers and business owners, we have to adapt and develop creative ways to market to our customers.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at