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September 30, 2021

What Apple's Mail Privacy Protection Means for Event Promoters

As an event promoter, you’re no doubt using email marketing as a tool to sell tickets – after all, email marketing is one of the most powerful channels in terms of cost, engagement, and ROI. What would it mean for your event if you saw the performance of your email campaigns decline? And how important is the ability to track engagement on those campaigns?

Despite its popularity, email hasn’t changed a great deal in decades. The underlying technology is pretty much the same as it was back in 1998, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But new changes by Apple that have recently come into effect are threatening to dethrone email from the top of the marketing food chain.

Mail Privacy Protection is the latest battle in Apple’s war on advertisers

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is a new feature that’s part of their latest iOS15 operating system for iPhones and iPads. It’s the most recent battle of Apple’s ongoing war on advertisers that began with the introduction of enhanced privacy tools last year, mainly affecting Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s tracking capabilities.

With this latest update, Apple has turned its sights to email marketing, limiting the amount of engagement data flowing out of the native Mail app on iPhones and iPads. Specifically, the entire content of each email message is downloaded straight to Apple’s servers as soon as the message is received, generating inaccurate open rate metrics.

“Because of this, you can’t tell who opened your emails, when, and where via Apple Mail.”
Magan Le, Litmus

According to the email analytics firm, Litmus these changes can result in seeing either 100% or 0% open rates for all users using the Apple Mail app. And it’s not just iCloud users, anyone who uses the app to read messages sent to their Gmail, Outlook, or company email address is also affected – suddenly, we’re looking at a much larger issue.

Apple Mail is more popular than you think

You might be surprised to hear that the native iPhone app is actually the largest single email client out there. Data collected by emailclientmarketshare.com, which has analyzed more than 1.2 billion email opens shows that in August 2021, the iPhone app holds a market share of 37% followed by Gmail (let’s not get started on the ‘Promotions’ tab) and Apple Mail Desktop on 34% and 10% respectively.

Source: emailclientmarketshare.com

iPhone Mail’s dominance is likely even more prolific in countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK, the US and New Zealand where iOS trumps Android in terms of user base.

Change your focus, sell more tickets

The impact of these changes varies depending on how you use email marketing to promote your event. If email is your number one channel for driving repeat purchases or cross-promotion, as is the case with many promoters large and small, the impact could be significant.

Here are some tips to help you mitigate the effects of Mail Privacy Protection on your ticket sales:

  • Focus on clicks and revenue, not open rates – click tracking is out of Apple’s hands, meaning you’ll still get accurate results when focussing on this metric. Better still, choose a platform that integrates directly with your ticketing provider to track revenue from each email.
  • Diversify your marketing channels – having all of your eggs in the proverbial email basket was never ideal. Consider expanding your reach with additional channels like SMS marketing to sell more tickets.
  • Get more bang for your marketing buck – every promoter knows that the announcement is the biggest marketing moment of any event. Maximize your registrations (and ticket sales) by driving email, SMS & social traffic to a platform that incentivizes fans to share your event with their friends.

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Article by
Joshua Young

Josh is a Growth Marketer at Audience Republic. He has previously worked at Sydney Fringe Festival, Live Nation & Disney Channel.