As marketers, we must acknowledge the consumer interest in privacy and respect that many will gladly embrace privacy-centric technology. We have the solution.
There has been a lot of discussion over the past year about Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). Much of that discussion has concentrated on MPP’s impact on marketers. Is it being adopted? How is it being adopted? Who is adopting it? How is it impacting campaigns? How is it impacting open rates? Is it impacting deliverability? Is it impacting list growth?
Unfortunately, few people ask about the impact on consumers. Are they embracing the privacy changes as they adopt the new iOS? Do they feel they have more privacy? Is increased privacy having an impact (positive or negative) on the customer relationship?
According to data from Mixpanel, Apple iOS 15 adoption — which is linked to MPP adoption — climbed from 67% in January of 2022 to 85% in May and plateaued. Since then, the Financial Times announced that Apple has overtaken Android devices in the U.S. market. Depending on the ratio of Apple v. non-Apple users, some brands are experiencing pre-caching rates that exceed 75%. Consumers seem to be embracing the privacy-first approach. As marketers, we must recognize that customers will be more likely to embrace relationships that prioritize privacy.
Like it or not, open data has been a critical tool for marketers since open data became possible. The value of that data has deprecated over time. Google began prefetching images in 2013 resulting in open activity being hidden. Marketers adapted by expanding the utilization of email click data, writing audience rules that looked at both opens and clicks to determine a next action. Even with the heavy impact of Mail Privacy Protection, marketers continue to rely on open data.
Open data helps identify engagement. As a result, open data is still a primary tool for conducting data hygiene. Open data is useful in measuring engagement over time — if the data is consistent and accurate. And we can’t forget that open data is useful in personalizing store locations or contact information, local-specific offers or events, and locations for weather-related support. Open data can also trigger other customer interactions or even measure specific words’ impact in a subject line. Changes to critical data have an impact on messaging strategies and tactics.
It was also important to consider the impact on consumers who receive marketing. Many consumers prefer privacy and opt into privacy preferences while maintaining strong digital relationships with favored brands. Much like a customer who navigates a brick and mortar store without assistance of a sales associate, self-service digital shoppers will often favor brands that allow them to remain an anonymous guest. There is also a large group of consumers who are actively choosing transparent digital relationships with brands that offer better value and personalization.
The 2023 Consumer Trends Index highlighted that 79% of consumers cite data privacy policies as either important or critically important to maintaining brand loyalty. The savviest digital shoppers will open some emails on their iPhones and other emails on a PC browser, rewarding the brands they trust most with a more complete digital identity. Marketers need to be able to personalize for customers who want personalization while also offering privacy to those who prefer to remain unnoticed.
Considering all of this, it was critical to make open data as useful as possible.
Step 1 of the process was evaluating what actually occurred as Apple rolled out privacy changes. We knew there would be a change in the open data user agent string. An analysis of those changes was required to determine how open data could be recognized or labeled properly. We also knew that pre-cached opens would automatically generate an open response, resulting in increased open rates, so we closely monitored and evaluated opens.
Step 2 was to refine a method to consistently identify False Opens and begin to flag that data. The best technique to identify a pre-cached open is through the IP address associated with the open. We maintain and update a database of Apple server IP addresses, refreshing it twice a week to prevent any real activity from being falsely flagged as a False Open. Marigold began flagging False Open data with this methodology on April 21, 2022. For any data between the August 2021 release of Apple MPP and April 21, 2022, Marigold isolated False Opens through the user agent string of the open data. Finally, the overlap between Real Opens and False Opens had to be resolved. All Apple MPP pre-cached opens are False Opens, but some users will interact with a message after Apple servers have sent the False Open. Marigold recognizes this activity as Real Opens while also acknowledging that they were pre-cached by Apple servers.
Step 3 was making open data more actionable. Marigold has made it possible to generate and export data on reach, timeline, geolocation, and comparison reports. Pre-cached opens can be excluded from triggers or winner selection for A/B testing. Filtering and personalization are also possible based on the improvements to open data tracking. Additionally, Marigold developed a Projected Open Rate to help predict the likelihood that the recipient opened a pre-cached message to help marketers compare performance across campaigns that may have different ratios of Apple MPP and non-Apple MPP users. Our Apple MPP User Guide will help you understand and navigate the updates for customers interested in the details.
As you plan your engagement strategy moving forward, remember that it is possible to respect the privacy of customers who desire privacy while rewarding your customers who trust you with personal information. Consider a more proactive privacy approach if you are encountering engagement complications because of a shift in consumer privacy management. Build trust with customers by exchanging value for information that can help you improve customer interactions. Remember to leverage the data you gather from customers to help them achieve their goals by personalizing content, offers, and interactions. Consider giving customers more control over the data you gather and the data you utilize to personalize experiences. And never be afraid to ask a customer for consent when you attempt to collect personal information; consumers prefer sharing information to being monitored.