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Are email open rates a thing of the past?

11.17.21Nicole Smith

Recent data privacy updates, including Apple’s iOS 15 update released in September 2021, may impact email marketing strategies going forward. But, for marketers, that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic.

Data privacy updates aren’t a new story from tech giants. The iOS 14 update that occurred earlier in 2021 heavily impacted social data by restricting and delaying the results of conversion campaigns. Did it change how we shift our marketing efforts? Yes. Did it cause the end of time? No. The same goes for the latest update and how it impacts emails.

Here are a few ways to make the most of your email marketing program, regardless of what comes next in data privacy:

Prioritize metrics that matter.

In the case of the iOS 15 update, email open rates will likely be hit hardest. According to Apple, “Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address, so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

But remember, this doesn’t mean people are not opening your email — it simply means it isn’t being reported back to a third party the way it used to be.

Take open rates with a grain of salt. Instead, give more weight to clicks throughout the email and consider other metrics further down the funnel, such as website activity and other conversions like online purchases or form fills.

Double down on quality content.

If your email content is compelling, you shouldn’t have to worry about much. Focus on copy that will draw readers in, portray your brand’s voice and encourage click-throughs.

Catchy, unique subject lines are still important to get subscribers to open and read. But one thing to consider is moving away from A/B testing subject lines. You likely won’t be able to get measurable data without open rate information. Instead, consider A/B testing the content within the email — call to action language, imagery, content length, etc.

And personalization will be more important than ever. Email subscribers don’t want to be spammed. They want content relevant to their needs. If you ask customers to subscribe to your list and share personal information and details about their preferences, what do they receive in return?

Segmentation is a powerful tool to divide your subscriber list based on demographic or activity information and deliver personalized, targeted content to each group of people.

Own your digital identity.

Social platforms and the audiences built from their algorithms are rented land. Email offers more stability and control. With email, you have access to first-party, owned data provided directly by customers and prospects. They’re essentially raising their hand and saying, “Hey, I want to hear from you.”

Lead generation efforts are crucial, now more than ever. Social media ads, contests, giveaways and digital advertising are great ways to gain more subscribers. Nurturing this owned database through an effective email strategy should be a staple in any marketing plan.

Data privacy and sharing changes will continue to happen. Now is not the time to drastically shift your email marketing strategy. Stay the course on what’s working well and watch for significant shifts in performance trends.

Let’s chat about how you can stay ahead of the shifts and maintain a successful email marketing program.
Nicole Smith
Nicole Smith
Senior Manager