How Apple Mail’s privacy protection affects nonprofits.
by Mike Montalto
October 7, 2021

If your familiar with our blog, you know we often talk about how the fundraising landscape is always evolving. And nonprofit professionals need to stay on their toes and be aware of what’s coming next, whether it’s a change in donor behavior trends or a shift in technology.

Apple has started rolling out a new feature that will change the way nonprofits look at their email analytics. In short, Apple Mail’s privacy protection will impact how reliable your open rates are as a measure of engagement.

Apple Mail's privacy protection is part of the iOS 15 update.

What is Apple Mail’s privacy protection?

The feature was rolled out as part of iOS 15 on September 20, 2021. It’s anticipated that the majority of apple users will have adopted the new feature by early 2022.

So, how does it work? Apple Mail’s privacy protection will pre-download emails and email images to a user’s device. And pre-loading an email image pixel will cause more emails to be reported as opened by apple users, regardless of if they have actually opened and viewed the email themselves!

You will probably notice a spike in your open rates over the next few months. And if you weren’t aware of this update, you may think you’re seeing better engagement.

But opens are going to be a less reliable metric of engagement with iOS 15. So, you will need to think of new ways to gauge how many of your recipients are actually engaging with your nonprofit’s emails.

FREE eBOOK: Fantastic fundraising emails – The complete guide for nonprofits.

Are your open rates up?

Clicks are the new king.

The good news is click-rates will be unaffected by Apple’s latest iOS update. Nonprofits historically put more focus on click-through rates and opens. But click-rates may be a better sign of engagement than open rates going forward.

We know what you’re thinking. “But not everyone who opens an email will necessarily click once they open!”

And this is true! But, focusing on making your emails more clickable can help you get a better idea of how many of your donors are engaging with your email outreach.

So, try to include some kind of clickable element in all of your emails going forward. This includes thank you emails and other forms of outreach that may not have required users to click before.

Link images that you may not have in the past. And include additional calls-to-action if you can add them seamlessly. Or consider embedding polls and surveys to encourage clicks where appropriate.

Do you have an automated email journey that sends the next email after a user opens a specific email? You may want to change the “open” condition to “clicks any link” instead to measure engagement more accurately.

But remember, you don’t want to make engaging with your emails confusing or seem like more effort than it’s worth. So, the key is being tasteful and make clicking an element in your email the logical next step after someone opens it.

READ MORE: Why your nonprofit’s call-to-action doesn’t work.

Apple Mail's privacy protection will mask a user's IP address.

What else do I need to know?

But Apple Mail’s privacy protection impacts more than just open rates. The new feature also masks a user’s IP address. This means you will not be able to rely on using this information to determine your recipients’ geographic locations and other data points you may be using in your personalization or audience segmentation efforts.

So, if you’ve been using this method, you will need to adjust. If a recipient’s location is important for you, you will need to ask your audience members to supply this information on their own.

This will also make features in your email system like, “send in local time zone” or “send at optimal time for each recipient” less reliable.

Apple Mail’s privacy protection will also mask information like what kind of device a user is viewing your email on. So, you may need to make some adjustments if you’ve been using these data points in your email campaigns.

READ MORE: Easy ways to segment your nonprofit’s audience.

DOWNLOAD: Fantastic Fundraising Emails - The Complete Guide for Nonprofits

There’s always something new.

It can be hard to keep up on the latest trends in nonprofit marketing. As you know, we stress that every organization is different and there is no magic bullet or formula to improve your results. But it is good to keep up on the industry’s trends and best practices!

After all, many of us face the same, or similar obstacles in our outreach. And yes, the best solution for one organization may not fit as well for yours.

For example, organizations who already have several clickable elements in their emails may not need to change much, other than focusing more on clicks than opens in their analytics. While other nonprofits may need to work to include more clickable elements in their emails.

Or an organization that creates audience segments based on geographic location may need to start asking for this information outright. While those that are less likely to use this piece of data may not be affected as much.

But you will want all the information that is available to you to guide your fundraising strategy and decision-making process! So, it’s important to be aware of how Apple Mail’s privacy protection affects nonprofits and consider how to adjust your approach going forward!

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