What is MPP?

In September 2021 Apple unveiled its newest release, iOS15. With this release came a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) which gives users more control over their own data. When downloading iOS15, a user has the choice to opt into MPP which prevents email service providers (ESPs) from collecting information on that user. Specifically, MPP disables email open tracking as well as masks IP addresses in the Apple Mail app.

When MPP is enabled, emails will download as soon as they hit the inbox. This download marks the email as read whether it was opened or not which inflates reporting metrics in ESPs. It is worth noting that MPP only affects subscribers that utilize the Apple Mail app. Apple users who only use the Gmail app, Outlook app, or other mail apps to receive their emails will not be affected by this.

When it comes to IP address privacy, users have two choices. They can either have an anonymous IP address assigned to them that will hide their specific location but still provides a general area where they are located, or they can choose to have an IP address that is tied to a very broad location.

What we are seeing in 2022

Currently over 75% of Apple users have downloaded iOS15. Of those users, 97% have enabled MPP. In Campaign Monitor’s 2022 Email Benchmark Report released in January, they noted seeing a 3.5% increase in average open rate compared to its 2021 report. SparkPost, the world’s largest email sender, is currently seeing up to 50% of all email going through MPP.

While these numbers are a cause for concern, marketers should still continue to send to MPP users. When a user is marked with an MPP open, it is a good indication that they are a real person whose email hit their inbox and didn’t go to spam. We will never truly know if they read the contents of the email or not, but they should continue receiving content regardless.

The future of marketing automation instances

Many of the campaigns a marketer has set up utilizing open rates will now have to be looked at through a different lens. Automated flows relying on someone to open in order to receive the next email and A/B testing with opens determining the winner are just a couple examples. Switching to click or page view triggers to push people through an engagement flow or to determine a winner will provide a better view of how your campaigns are performing.

Because email content gets pre-fetched only once, certain dynamic features used in emails such as count down timers that rely on constant refreshing will not work properly for MPP users. Other tools such as send time optimization or showing nearest store locations will no longer be accurate for a user if MPP is enabled because of vague IP information.

Many marketers use opens to create suppression lists of unengaged contacts to keep out of their sends. Since it will appear that all MPP users are engaged, this metric will have to switch to something more measurable like clicks or purchases. Marketers can use this opportunity to also dig deeper into audiences and explore how they are engaging with other channels. Are they clicking on ads or reacting to social posts? This can give some insight into whether they are engaged with your brand and should continue to receive emails.

Measuring success without open rates

The open rate has been a staple reporting metric for as long as email has been around. What can a marketer do if that metric is no longer reliable?

To start, marketers should rely on click rate just as much as they were relying on open rate. For companies who do not usually include CTAs in their content, now is the time to start doing so. Finding creative ways to get people to engage does not have to be limited to driving them to your website. It could be completing a survey, clicking on a Spotify playlist, or writing a review. Every click counts.

Going in the opposite direction, another way to measure engagement is looking at the negatives. Metrics like unsubscribe rate can be used as an indication that a campaign did not perform well and needs to be adjusted in the future.

Changes in ESPs

As we march forward into the new world of MPP, ESPs are providing new ways to target and measure engagement. This year we will start to see options to include or exclude MPP opens from segmentations or reporting.

With the ability to segment MPP, marketers can continue using dynamic content features with their non-MPP audience while providing static content to the MPP users. This also provides a good opportunity to gather more first party data. If a company’s email content relies heavily on location, gathering that data organically through web forms is a way that these features can still be utilized for MPP users.

Another difference we will start to see in ESPs is locations being hidden for those with MPP enabled. Since the IP addresses shown will no longer be accurate, this would reduce the risk of tools like send time AI and send time optimization from working properly or altering any reporting.

While losing the open rate as a reliable metric does come as a blow to the email marketing industry, we know that technology will move with it. New and improved ways to report and strategize campaigns will come to the surface as time moves on. This will be an evolving process over time, that we can only hope will bring more ways to target the right audiences at the right time with tailored content.