If your donors use any Apple products, they may be utilizing Apple's Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). According to Apple, this functionality prevents senders from learning their audience's information, such as when and how many times you view an email, whether you forward it, your IP address, and other data. It does not matter what mail service they use (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) - as long as they are using it on an Apple device, these settings apply.
Some of this information is utilized in various Virtuous functionalities, so these settings will in turn impact these functionalities, specifically email metrics and functions that rely on them.
What Is Impacted
Email Open Rates
When a subset of Apple users in your recipient group has these settings activated, false opens may show in your email metrics.
Opens are often tracked by loading a 1-pixel transparent image. For those utilizing MPP, tests have shown that images (including these pixels) are being preloaded for emails, including those that are unopened. In other words, this is is inflating open rates, showing that more people are opening emails, even when some of them are not actually opening them.
Other Email Analytics
Virtuous not only tracks whether or not someone opens an email, but also tracks:
- The time they first and last opened the email
- IP address
Because MPP may offer false reads on open rates, it may also offer false reads on when an email "was opened."
Additionally, depending on how the recipient has configured their privacy settings, their IP address information may be hidden.
A/B Testing Results
Because open rates are impacted and this can be a metric used to determine a winner between A and B versions, they can impact the results of an A/B test and who the winning version will go to.
While the randomized audience sizes between A and B versions will be equal, due to randomization, there is no guarantee of an equal number of Apple mail recipients with MPP in each group. Therefore, the results may not provide an accurate winner.
Segmentation for Bulk Communications and Automation Workflows
A common strategy is to segment audiences based on engagement, namely open rates; in other words, some organizations may be pulling in data on who has (or hasn't) opened a specific email and sending communication(s) to this audience.
Unfortunately, when this metric is not reliable, that means it does not provide an accurate picture of who should (or shouldn't) be included in the segment(s). This can lead to sending the wrong message to the wrong people.
For example: If you're sending email #2 to an audience of people who have not opened email #1, this effort might miss a few people who have not truly opened email #1, but were logged as having opened it because of their MPP.
What Is Not Impacted
- Email Click Rates
- This can be used as an alternative indicator for engagement when examining reports, performing A/B tests, and segmenting your audiences.
- Other Channels
- Metrics from other channels, such as SMS, should still be reliable.
- Responsive Listener
- The tracking mechanism used for this is applied through recipient link clicks, which should not be affected by MPP.
As a whole, click tracking will be a more reliable metric than open tracking for reviewing and applying your email engagement.