Email Marketing: Effective iOS15 Strategies

By Jenn Choo


Changes in data privacy regulations and residual updates from Apple and Google to protect their users' privacy have added another element of difficulty to the array of challenges marketers have seen in the past few years.

Marketing teams need to be agile and pivot their strategies to accommodate changes in privacy law, thanks to the emergence of new regulations. Over the past eight years, marketing teams have pivoted their email strategies to adhere to several new consumer data privacy laws, including Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) in 2014, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2020 and more recently Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) in 2021.

While all these data privacy protection regulations required a great deal of work from marketing teams to maintain compliance across their email marketing, none have created as much buzz as Apple's MPP and Google's upcoming sunsetting of the third-party cookie.

This is mainly because both Apple and Google's pivots directly impact the long-standing metrics leveraged by marketing teams to measure email campaign success. While this may seem earth-shattering at first glance, it's just another bump in the road and a chance for savvy marketing teams to show the depths of their agility.

Let's take a look at some of the strategies you can utilize to negate the impacts of iOS changes to optimize your email strategies today and future-proof your email methodologies for tomorrow.

R.I.P Open Rate Measurement

Email marketing is an important part of every omnichannel marketing strategy. Apple's latest iOS update activated a new Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) that allows users to block their IP address and block tracking pixels. This renders email open-rate metrics invalid as a marketing KPI and is just another nail in the coffin for third-party cookie tracking. While it may seem detrimental, savvy marketing teams have become accustomed to taking an agile approach to metrics and will pivot their KPI's accordingly.

The greatest challenge is managing expectations when it comes to changes in open rate metrics and leveraging other metrics to attribute back to campaign success. Success measurements may vary depending on the individual brand or campaign.

Still, ultimately, a good, modern strategy leverages key metrics across your omnichannel strategy to attain a holistic picture of a campaign's success. Email is just one part of the user experience, and the modern consumer is crossing multiple digital channels per day. This is where cross-channel campaigns, click-through rates, and other collective KPI measurements and analysis become critical.

Think Outside the Inbox

While we know email is essential to the omnichannel strategy, it's important to think outside the inbox when creating assets and campaign materials. While loyal customers are exponentially more likely to open and interact with emails from your brand, they do not represent your entire target consumer base. The fact of the matter is that modern consumers are crossing a multitude of digital platforms every day. The best way to engage them is to take your email messaging and reproduce it in a variety of formats across those channels.

Spreading messaging across your omnichannel platforms will ensure that users see that message when and where they are spending their time. For instance, a customer may see an email hit their inbox in the morning and not open it, but later in the day see an ad on Instagram that showcases a product that caught their eye. This Instagram ad interaction may drive them back into their email to see if there are discounts or sales that further incentivize them to purchase the product. Making sure those incentives are present is key to winning the inbox.

Build Loyalty Programs & Reward Members

Through the past few years, we have seen amazing growth and pivots in loyalty and rewards programs for brands. The death of the third-party cookie and the changes in current iOS releases and data privacy regulations have made the need for opt-ins critical for marketing teams.

One of the best ways to collect zero-party data and create demand for communications via email is loyalty programs and rewards. Many marketing teams have upped the ante on their rewards programs to include rewards members-only promotions, early access to deals and product launches, exclusive products for members only, and of course, freebees — all to entice consumers to sign up.

Building an internal database of opt-in loyalty program members means gathering data directly from your customers, with their permission, that you can utilize to personalize messaging in the inbox and across your omnichannel. Not to mention, loyalty members are more likely to open and engage with your emails.

Make your loyalty rewards emails the best place to feature new products, exclusive deals and incentives, and test new campaign strategies. Good loyalty programs often lead consumers to want to see those emails hit their inbox and interact with them. Marketing teams need to use that to their advantage by rewarding email openers and incentivizing click-through rates.

Always Confirm and Check In

With the end of the line for third-party data on the horizon, it is more important now than ever that your email subscribers are opting in and able to control the content they receive. There are two great ways to do this that should be part of your email marketing best practices: using confirmation campaigns and emails — and building a preference center.

Utilizing confirmation campaigns is a great way to ensure your users are engaged and opted-in. Leveraging emails and landing pages within your confirmation campaign to check in with users that have not engaged with content recently enables them to opt-in or out of emails. These types of re-permission campaigns will eliminate an increase in spam complaint rate due to inactive users while ensuring that the recipients of your email marketing campaigns are actively engaged users.

Preference centers are rising in popularity as an additional way to give your users the ability to manage their data and preferences. When developing your preference center, it's important to build out an easy-to-use user interface (UI) that enables users to manage their data, content preferences, and subscription status. Doing so allows marketing teams to answer the ever-growing consumer call for transparency from marketing, giving users full access and control over their data and when, where, and how you can interact with them.

Less Is Always More

It may seem like a great idea to send more emails to consumers to capture their attention. In reality, it has the opposite effect. Thanks to the exponential growth of digital communications due to the pandemic, the number of emails hitting the average user's inbox on the daily is overwhelming. Sending out multiple emails daily or weekly can only amplify the issue, often resulting in emails going unread, being deleted, or even inciting unsubscribes. Let's face it, unsubscribes are the last things marketing teams want to see.

To negate the dreaded unsubscribe, you must curate your emails appropriately. Sending less emails with more relevant and personalized information, promotions, suggestions, sales, and rewards will make big impacts on your campaign success. This is especially relevant when focusing in on subscribers and loyalty members. Sending emails less often to those who have requested them is a sure-fire tactic to enabling higher email engagement and keep your email marketing sends out of the virtual trash bin.

The Takeaway

Modern consumers want full control of their digital data, and an ever-growing number of data privacy laws and policies like Apple's MPP and Google's end to the third-party cookies are helping to fulfill that request. As a result, marketing teams have had to pivot strategies to maintain compliance, especially when it comes to email strategy. These changes are not something to fear, rather they are a chance for marketing teams to showcase their agility and optimize their strategies for a future world where zero-party data reigns supreme.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Jenn Choo is the marketing director at Theorem.