What You Should Know About Apple’s New Privacy Features

Apple recently announced several new privacy-focused features. The new updates, although unsurprising – given Apple’s track record – have elicited mixed conversations across the email community. This is because they will dramatically impact email marketing and force marketers to innovate beyond the open. Below are some more details about what you can expect from the new privacy features coming to iOS 15, macOS Monterrey, iPadOS 15, and watchOS.

Apple’s new privacy features could be the end of email newsletters

Apple used the recent Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2021 to showcase the fresh changes it will introduce its software this year. While data tracking and user security were some of the other things that the company touched on, it is the privacy updates that raised the most eyebrows. Two new features, particularly, stole the show: “Mail Privacy Protection” and “Hide My Email.”

The two features will deal a devastating blow to email marketers. To better understand how they do that, how about you first have a refresher on how most email marketing ploys work?

How email marketing works

Email marketing is a highly effective marketing strategy that involves, (you guessed right) sending emails to customers and prospects. It aims at making customers out of prospects and loyal, raving fans out of one-time buyers. This heavily relies on privatizing messages meant for specific customers.

Marketers will first segment you by, say, your first interaction with them, age, demographics, or even your first purchase. The more they know about you, the more relevant their messages will be.

However, like most other people, you could be worried about the risks that personalized online ads pose to your privacy. This is especially because marketers have devised various ways of collecting information from you involuntarily, based on your online behavior.

Take, for instance, the use of invisible pixels, which is a way to discreetly gather information from any email user. Marketers can use this tactic to know when you open your emails. The tracking pixels are typically 1X1 in size and are partly or fully transparent by design to ensure that you can’t see them, even if you tried hard enough.

Apple is looking to change the use of such tactics to collect any type of information without your knowledge. The company already has an Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) feature, which is aimed at preventing advertisers from targeting and tracking you across iOS devices. “Mail Privacy Protection” and Hide My Email,” the two new features that will further enhance your privacy protection when using the company’s software.

Here is how the two features will work:

Mail Privacy Protection 

iOS 15 will come with a Mail Privacy Protection feature which will enable you to privately load remote content while also hiding your IP address. This will ensure that anyone who sends you an email cannot be able to track you. The IP masking capability will effectively mean that the sender can also not determine your physical location.

If you opt-in, iOS 15’s Mail Privacy feature will leave marketers blind to your email habits. However, the marketers will still be able to track users on desktop and Android gadgets.

The Mail Privacy feature will not be enabled by default. You will have to opt-in. However, once released, it is expected that mail senders will experience a decline in their reported open rates. The effects might also spread beyond pre-headers and subject lines, since marketers rely on user engagement, over time, to plan user segmentation. For instance, when you open relatively less you are more likely to receive fewer marketing messages, with different content.

Moreover, marketers could also purge you from their email list when they notice that you are an inactive subscriber. They conduct such database cleaning to enhance their deliverability overall. Internet service providers assume that emails with a large number of inactive subscribers have little value and hence the deployments mostly end up in junk or spam folders. However, with the new privacy update from Apple, it will be more difficult for marketers to delete you just because you are an inactive subscriber.

Hide My Email 

The second of Apple’s new features, “Hide My Email,” will be available on macOS Monterrey (recently unveiled), iOS 15, and Cloud settings. The feature will allow you to get randomly generated email addresses from Apple. When you sign up for such email offers, you can avoid giving out your primary email address each time you are prompted to.

Apple will later forward all emails collected from your random addresses to your main account. Then, you can prevent the proxy addresses from spreading across the web by deleting them.

The “Hide My Email” feature will prevent you from being ambushed by marketers in a number of ways. First, they will have no way of determining whether you use your legitimate email address or a “burner” to sign-up. This will ultimately lead to deliverability issues since you can swiftly delete your proxy email to avoid their messages.

What changes can you expect?

Even though everyone is worried about privacy, modern marketing methods have somewhat conditioned most individuals to personalized online experiences. It will also be hard for marketers to let go of a tactic that has yielded numerous positive results for a very long time. You can therefore expect them to bounce back by devising new ways to learn about their audience and provide them with engaging, custom content. However, they may now need to rely on information that you directly submit to them, rather than gather the details they need behind your back.

Most advertisers are likely to turn to first-data. This refers to the information that you give them willingly. The most common ways that they may use to collect such data include sweepstakes, polls, interactive social posts, and newsletter sign-up prompts. First-party data could be a driving force of email marketing in the future. This is more probable if traditional and email metrics are wiped out.

Advertisers are likely to focus on two key factors to step up their data collection efforts: value and trust. You will be more likely to disclose your personal information to a company that you know cannot disclose the said details to others. You may also be readier to share such information when you are getting something in return. Other than providing relevant content, advertisers may offer value adds like coupons, discounts, and vouchers to incentivize you to participate in their online surveys.

Final remarks

That’s all about Apple’s new privacy updates that will feature in iOS 15, macOS Monterrey, iPadOS 15, and watchOS. To recap, a “Mail Privacy Protection” feature will make it difficult for marketers to track you using discreet tactics like invisible pixels. Another feature, “Hide My Mail,” will give you an option to register online using proxy email addresses that you can delete later on to prevent being swarmed with messages from advertisers.

You can expect to see more security and privacy updates in the future as technology companies everywhere continue upping their game. To keep up with all such updates, reach out to our security and data privacy experts.