iOS 15 Update - All You Need To Know

  1. 3

    Zina, thanks for drawing people's attention to this. Big news this week!

    That said, I'm not sure you've fully explained how iOS15 affects email marketers and if anything it seems to perpetuate the myth that iOS15 is blocking open tracking. In fact, it's the complete opposite. It's massively important we inform the email industry correctly on this.

    So let's start from the start.

    Open tracking works by including a remote image, unique to the subscriber, in an email. When an email is opened, the images load, and because this unique image has loaded the email service provider assumes that unique user has 'opened' it.

    Now – here comes iOS15's changes. When using Mail Privacy Protection (and connect to Wifi), all images (including tracking pixels) are pre-fetched as soon as Apple see them come in from Gmail/whatever you use. As tracking pixels are just a simple image, it means open rates will be inflated. Something that will affect your stats, particularly if you have a raft of Apple users who regular use their phones on WiFi.

    Is it the end of the world? Not necessarily. Here are the important things to note with the tracking:

    • Emails are only 'opened' if the Mail app is running in the background and connected to an email provider, this means an open is still a very strong signal that the email addresses are currently in use and are valid. So there will still be some value in purging inactive (meaning old not-used) email addresses.
    • It'll take time to see the open rate gently increase. It won't suddenly jump up tomorrow. Looking at previous iOS releases it could take up to 3 months to see 80% adoption of iOS15, and 50% adoption around 1 month. I'd expect 90-95% of iOS users to opt into the privacy options.
    • Things such as countdown timers, A/B testing, automation based on opens, and automatic send-time optimisation (which was based on opens) will not be as useful as they were as they will give incorrect readings back on iOS15 devices. We at EmailOctopus didn't offer these, but I know other providers do and will need to consider how these function.
    • Click tracking remains broadly unaffected, however clicks are routed through Apple proxy so location is not as reliable as it were anymore for providers who report back on this (we don't). Apple do use servers close to the user though.
    • At present it is possible to spot the pre-fetching in action. This is because the proxy uses Cloudflare and Fastly IPs alongside an empty user agent. So there likely will be data in the coming months as to the impact and as you mention at MooSend you may be able to exclude/segment some of these users. However I'd be interested to know the tech here used to segment – the user agent is a different one used when images are loaded 'normally'. It is therefore likely, unless you've updated your segmentation rules under the hood, that under current circumstances you're not catching these.
    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing that! That's a really valuable addition and I agree that we should be informed more carefully around that.

  2. 0

    All these gimmick to just launch and force their own service.
    Apple is coming with their own Ad network and destructible email service.

    1. 1

      That's an interesting perspective. Only time will tell. I think that email services will find their way through and email marketers will focus more on other KPIs.

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