What’s happening to your email open rate?

Aug 11, 2022

Don’t press the panic button! We warned you this was coming. But we understand why you’d be concerned when you see such drastic fluctuations in your email open rate!

Remember, Apple Mail’s privacy protection feature was rolled out as part of iOS 15 on September 20, 2021. And most Apple Mail users were expected to have adopted the feature by this past February.

And now, months later, nonprofit professionals, fundraisers, and marketers are witnessing the impacts on their analytics. And your email open rate is being skewed as a result.

In fact, average email open rates were up 3.5 percent year-over-year in 2021, while click-to-open rates were down 3.6 percent, according to a recent Campaign Monitor study.

So, you will need to think differently about your email open rate and other key metrics going forward.

But what do you need to know to get caught up to speed with Apple’s latest privacy feature? And what do you need to do to adapt your nonprofit’s outreach strategy?

Read on to find out!

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A refresher on Apple Mail’s privacy protection.

We brought this to your attention for the first time back in October 2021.

But many fundraisers are still unclear about what Apple Mail’s privacy protection is and how it impacts email analytics. So, a quick refresher might be helpful!

It’s important to note that only users on an apple device using apple’s default mail client will have access to this feature. For example, someone using the Gmail app on their iPhone will not be protected.

The idea is to give users more control over their data. So, Apple Mail’s privacy protection pre-downloads emails and images to a user’s device. And pre-loading an email image pixel causes more emails to be reported as opened by apple users, regardless of if they have actually opened and viewed the email themselves!

As a result, your open rates have probably gone up. And if you weren’t aware of this update, you may think you’re seeing better engagement.

But that’s not necessarily the case. And you now need to apply different approaches and examine other key metrics to determine if you’re effectively engaging donors with your email outreach.

READ MORE: How Apple Mail’s privacy protection affects nonprofits.

Apple Mail's privacy protection makes strategies like resending emails to those who did not open less viable.

Adapting your email outreach.

As you may have guessed, open rates are no longer a reliable form of engagement. Clicks are the new queen for determining email engagement. And this means some of the strategies you’ve used in the past may need to be adjusted or abandoned.

For example, you will need to adapt if you’re resending unopened emails with a different subject line, sender, or at a different time of day. And you need to make some changes if you’re maintaining your mailing list, segmenting audiences, or triggering automated email journeys by using opens as a measure of engagement.

But there’s good news! You can still use many of these strategies if you shift your primary measure of engagement from opens to clicks.

For example, trigger the next email in your automated journey when a user clicks a specific link or after a certain amount of time has passed rather than when an email is opened. Focus on clicks rather than opens when evaluating the results of an A/B test. And create audience segments that use clicks, not opens, to determine who your most engaged audience members are.

READ MORE:  Using your nonprofit’s data to optimize email outreach.

Embedded videos and polls in your emails make it more likely a user will click.

Optimizing for clicks.

This does not mean that you should throw away everything you’ve learned about optimizing your email open rate. You can’t forget the essentials like a relevant sender or engaging subject line. After all, you won’t get the clicks you need if your emails aren’t getting opened, regardless of how opens are reported.

But many fundraisers and email marketers are shifting their focus to make the content of their email more clickable once someone opens an email.

For example, including interactive features like a poll or survey gives your audience a clear, clickable action.

You can get a better feel for who is most engaged by determining which users clicked on the survey in your email. And you will collect new data points to use in your future outreach!

FREE eBOOK: Fantastic Fundraising Emails - The complete guide for nonprofits

You can also try embedding more videos into the body of your emails to encourage clicks. After a user opens your email, they need to click the “play” icon to start your video. And this will give you a better idea of who actually opened and engaged with your email rather than relying on the open rate alone.

And remember, your donors are more likely to feel inspired and click to learn more when you create compelling content. So, remember to keep everything you’ve learned about compelling storytelling for nonprofits in mind!

READ MORE: Quick tips to improve your nonprofit’s message.

38.9% of email opens last year came from an iphone. But only 11% came from the Apple Mail client.

The future of email marketing.

As fundraisers, we’re no strangers to change. And the technology we use to reach donors, secure support, and change the world is always evolving. So, you need to stay on your toes and adapt as the world does. Otherwise, you’re going to fall behind!

It’s said that a new door opens whenever one closes. And Apple Mail’s privacy protection is forcing us to rethink some tried and true aspects of our email outreach strategies.

So, you will need to start by digging into your data and determining what percentage and who among your audience is using Apple Mail’s latest privacy feature.

According to data from Litmus, 38.9 percent of email opens last year came from an iPhone. However, only 11.5 percent of total opens were from the Apple Mail client. So, dig into your data and determine what devices and email clients are used most by your audience.

See if you can determine how much of your audience is impacted by Apple Mail’s privacy protection. This will help you determine your percentage of genuine opens compared to those caused by the privacy feature.

Having this knowledge will help you as you try to make more sense of your email open rate and other key analytics, like conversion and click rates, as you adjust your outreach in the future.

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FREE eBook: Fantastic fundraising emails - The complete guide for nonprofits.