The End of Email Open Tracking (As We Know It)

by | Jun 11, 2021

Just in case you’ve not seen the announcement, a press release from Apple earlier this week has sent shockwaves through the email marketing world.

What are Apple doing?

To cut to the chase, Apple are going to block the invisible tracking pixels that tell your email marketing provider whether or not the emails you’ve sent have been opened.

And, just to confuse things even more, they’ll also quite likely “pre-load” images in your emails, whether or not they’ve been opened, so it’ll become a lot more difficult, if not impossible, to check if someone has opened something, even if the images do get displayed.

It’s a great thing for anyone with privacy concerns, but it’s going to have a far-reaching impact on the world of email marketing.

What’s the impact going to be?

Well, we don’t know yet…

Email open tracking has never been 100% accurate. It’s likely to become a lot less accurate when iOS 15 launches in September though.

It’s thought that as much as 40% of people use Apple Mail to read some or all of their emails – which could lead to 40% of open tracking becoming ineffective, whether those people are using Apple, Google, Microsoft or anyone else as their actual mailbox provider.

The thing to bear in mind, however, is that this has actually started already. My contacts in a couple of the email marketing providers have been telling me this has been happening on a small scale already.

It’s just that Apple’s announcement has brought it out into the open.

What are the email marketing providers going to do?

Very little – because they can’t.

I’ve seen a response from an email deliverability expert at Mailchimp who has pretty much said that they’ve never had the right to that data.

Many people will expect their email marketing platform to have a magic solution, but this is unlikely to be the case.

What to do right now

If you want to get on top of who’s engaged and who hasn’t, now’s the time if you’ve not done that already – take our free Email Health Check and make sure you’re managing your engagement as well as possible.

That way, you can be sure your list is in the best possible health before any potential loss of future engagement data in September.

Next Steps

In the future though, it’s going to become much more important that you pay attention to other ways of measuring engagement.

The most obvious one will be by seeing who clicks on links in your emails. If someone clicks, they have definitely engaged. The only issue right now though is that many people read emails and don’t click any of the links.

So it’s going to be even more important than ever to firstly, send emails more frequently (to your engaged contacts!) so that there’s a higher likelihood of them clicking, and also strengthen your calls to action so that they’ve got a better reason to click through.

It’s possible that even click tracking could be defeated in the future, but right now it’s the best indicator we’ve got after open tracking.

Want to learn more?

Check back to this page in the near future. I’ll be adding more information and thoughts as soon as I can!