illustration of email privacy

Adapting to Apple iOS 15: impact on higher education email marketing

The new email privacy feature from Apple iOS 15 may be causing the biggest stir in email marketing since GDPR.

Launching today, the iOS 15 update will prompt Apple Mail users to opt in or out of email privacy which will hide their IP addresses and open behaviour. This means, email marketers will no longer be able to track email opens from Apple Mail users who have opted to protect their privacy. Therefore, the open rate metric that is often relied on by email marketers to assess deliverability and engagement can no longer be taken at face value.

From now on, you can expect an inflated open rate driven by Apple Mail users. Your numbers will look artificially high as Apple will load emails, and tracking pixels, in a proxy server before they reach your recipients and this activity will reflect as opens in your email marketing reports. Litmus predicts that open rate will be inflated to roughly 75% among Apple Mail users.

The good news is, click rate reporting will not be affected by Apple iOS 15.

What will this mean for higher education email marketing?

The extent to which Apple iOS 15 will impact email marketing at your university depends on your audiences. In preparation for today’s iOS update, we’ve analysed the scale of Apple Mail users within undergraduate and postgraduate student audiences across the UniQuest partner group.

We’ve found that Apple Mail users range from 20% to 38% of the student audiences we’re engaging on behalf of our partner universities, which is less than the 46% share of email opens from Apple email clients that Litmus discovered in its multi-industry analysis.

Nonetheless, 20% — 38% is not an insignificant proportion of students using Apple Mail, so we’re adapting the way we deliver, report and optimise email marketing for our partners.

How we’re responding to Apple iOS 15

We’re not completely giving open rate the boot, but, we will rely more heavily on click rate to determine student engagement. Where relevant, we have updated our behaviour-based email nurture journeys to deliver emails based on click behaviour instead of opens.

To add context to future reporting, we have developed open rate benchmarks up to the point of the iOS update. Using pre-existing benchmarks alongside ongoing reporting for our partners regarding the proportion of Apple Mail users by student segment – country, study level, etc. – we can more accurately calibrate email performance to make more informed decisions when it comes to email optimisation tactics.

Stay tuned

While iOS 15 is certainly creating headaches for email marketers across all industries, we’re ready for the changes ahead and are optimistic about the future of email marketing. We’ll continue to monitor the use of Apple Mail across our partner universities’ audiences and refine reporting and email engagement approaches as needed. Follow us on LinkedIn for updates as the world settles into iOS 15.