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How Email Marketers Can Adapt to iOS 17 Privacy Updates

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Apple's new iOS 17 brings major privacy changes that will impact email marketing strategies relying on tracking and targeting on iOS devices.

apple ios 17 image

As an email marketer, you must adapt to these 3 updates:


1. Mail Privacy Protection

- Users can hide IP address and disable tracking pixels in Apple Mail

- Open rates, geotargeting, and email metrics will be less accurate

- Adopt Apple's new opt-in tracking standard

- Rely more on first-party data like emails and customer IDs


2. Limitations on Targeting and Attribution

- Less access to identifiers like IDFA for cross-app/site tracking

- Harder to retarget users or correlate email to app activity

- Shift to context-based targeting vs past behaviors

- Leverage broader segments and zero-party data


3. Rethinking Mobile Measurement

- SKAdNetwork and Private Click Measurement to preserve attribution

- Explore aggregate analytics solutions without identifiers

- New mobile measurement tactics required





Here are 7 steps email marketers can take to combat the iOS 17 privacy changes:


1. Audit your email tracking and targeting

geometric pieces

Create a detailed audit spreadsheet documenting all email tracking technology in use. List pixel tracking, cookies, advertising IDs, device identifiers, and backend data endpoints. Note specifically which campaigns, segments, lists each applies to. Document the exact targeting, personalization, analytics functionality enabled by each. Consult privacy policies and legal counsel to identify legacy trackers that are non-essential. Purge unnecessary tracking not clearly driving value or functionality. But retain transparent open/click tracking if compliant with Apple's new rules requiring opt-in consent. Document expected impact to targeting and analytics. Brief internal stakeholders on changes. Develop transition plan phasing out non-compliant tracking.


2. Adopt Apple's Mail Privacy Protection

girl working on analytics

Study Apple's new specifications extensively. Adjust website and app opt-in flows to be completely transparent about what data will be collected and exactly how it will use to personalize content/ads. Develop focused value propositions personalized to the user. Encourage opt-in consent while respecting user choice to decline without ramifications. Discontinue targeted campaigns for users who decline but look for privacy-compliant alternatives like contextual personalization. Conduct A/B tests of different consent flow language and value propositions. Install consent management platform to honor user choices persistently across channels. Continuously monitor opt-in rate as key metric.


3. Build direct relationships

business relationship

Make authentic first-party data collection a strategic priority across all digital properties. Capture more identified user data from website engagement, app activity, transactions, subscriptions. Progressively enrich CRM profiles with permissions. Develop loyalty programs, exclusive content and community features that encourage ongoing engagement beyond conversions. Cultivate genuine user relationships and invite them to share information voluntarily over time via double opt-in consent. Rely more on accurate first-party data versus third-party inferences or tracking methods being blocked by new privacy rules. Prioritize depth of relationship over quantity of assumed "data."


4. Segment smarter

segment iphone

Leverage accurate CRM and first-party data like purchase history, demonstrated interests, frequency of engagement for sharper audience segments and personalized campaigns. Enhance with contextual data like pages visited or time on site where possible under privacy rules. Avoid static segments based on third-party inferences which may be irrelevant. Continuously update first-party based segments as user data evolves. Develop suppression lists and frequency capping to prevent over-targeting identified users. Test highly personalized content tailored to granular first-party attributes. Monitor performance rigorously.


5. Prioritize mobile permissions

mobile creative

Conduct comprehensive audit of all mobile app permissions, privacy policies and opt-in consent flows. Remove any unnecessary collection of device identifiers, tracking or access not clearly required for core functionality. Re-consent legacy users with simplified transparent privacy options. Default permissions to minimum required only. Keep mobile and web permissions tightly synced across channels respecting user choices consistently. Install consent management platform to monitor compliance. Refine approaches based on opt-in/out data. Stay up-to-date on mobile privacy developments.


6. Test new attribution models

dot analytics graph

Research emerging cross-device attribution models as alternatives to deprecated tracking-based approaches. Obtain beta access to leading solutions and integrate respective APIs/SDKs. Ingest first-party CRM and engagement data. Compare accuracy against existing attribution models using a representative sample of campaigns. Surface new cross-device insights and adjust targeting approaches accordingly. Feed insights back into CRM for further optimization. Monitor accuracy of matching/attribution rates over longitudinal testing.


7. Reframe KPIs

iphone abstract

Work closely with internal stakeholders to align on new KPI framework focused on overall customer lifetime value. Monitor longitudinal engagement, retention, and loyalty of cohorts vs channel-specific metrics only. Prioritize depth of relationship and incremental progress for identified users across all modes of engagement. Develop retention and loyalty benchmarks aligned to user relationships not reach/frequency. Report on cohort value over time, not isolated campaign analytics. Celebrate small but meaningful improvements in long-term customer satisfaction.


The Bottom Line:

- Privacy is shifting - email marketing must evolve

- Get user permissions, lean into first-party data

- Adjust strategies for personalization and performance

- Keep user in control while still connecting


Key Takeaways:

- Understand how iOS 17 and Mail Privacy Protection limit tracking

- Adopt new frameworks like SKAdNetwork for mobile attribution

- Build audience strategies around first-party data and context

- Prioritize user transparency, choice and control


Not sure where to start?


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