Is Apple Mail’s privacy a death knell for newsletters?

Apple last week introduced Mail Privacy Protection in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8. The new privacy feature will limit the amount of data an email sender can collect about you.

In other words, it could create obstacles for email marketers, advertisers, and newsletter creators who rely heavily on email to track user geolocation, build databases. , carry out targeted marketing, generate leads, develop content strategies, etc.

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According to the Content Marketing Institute, 31% of B2B marketers said email newsletter is the most critical aspect of their content marketing strategy. The top three types of content used by B2B marketers include social media content (95%), blog posts / short articles (89%), and email newsletters (81%). In another study, 59% of people said that marketing emails influence their buying decisions.

What does Apple do

“In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from using web beacons to collect user information. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email and hides their IP address so that it cannot be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location, ”said Apple in a blog post,

As of 2013, Google has been serving all images through its proxy servers, which hides users’ locations from at least some tracking apps. Additionally, extensions like Ugly Mail and PixelBlock could be used to block trackers on Chrome and Firefox.

How advertisers track your messaging activity

Typically, a person sending an email can never know who opened the email or when or if someone did. But, if the person has an attached image, it should be uploaded from the original server. When the user opens it, the mail application queries the server to download this file. Once downloaded, the sender can monitor their server and find out if the user has opened the mail.

This is where Apple’s latest email privacy feature comes in. This prevents services like Mailchimp, Moosend, SendInBlue, HubSpot, and others from knowing if an email has been opened.

Nathan Barry, Founder and CEO of ConvertKit email marketing platform noted you must “periodically remove inactive subscribers”. “But the main way to track engagement is open rates. If Apple sends an open event for each email, it will prevent creators from knowing who needs to be deleted, ”he added.

(Source: Twitter)

So when you update your iPhone to iOS 15, you will see a screen on launch that prompts you to select its latest mail service, which allows you to hide IP addresses and privately upload all remote content.

The functionality comes in the form of a fault, as iOS 15 beta testers noted. It also has some limitations. For example, based on Apple’s demo, it only seems to work when using Safari Mail with your iCloud email address.

Apple against traders

As part of a larger privacy campaign, Apple recently rolled out App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14.5. The feature requires all apps to get permission before tracking users.

The move drew criticism from companies heavily dependent on advertising like Facebook.

Almost 96% of users in the US denied tracking permissions in iOS 14.5. Apple’s privacy feature is choking the $ 189 billion global mobile advertising market.

Check out some comments on Tim Cook’s Message on Twitter.

Newsletter

Apple’s latest privacy initiative comes when media companies including Facebook, Twitter, etc. invest heavily in strategies based on newsletters.

Recently, Twitter said it was looking to introduce a newsletter feature directly into the user’s profile. The goal is to help newsletter editors leverage their existing Twitter followers to grow their subscriber base.

Interestingly, Twitter acquired a subscription newsletter service, Revue, in January 2021. Writers can use the Revue (substack) account to generate free or paid subscription newsletters. Twitter takes 5% off each paid subscription. But the privacy of Apple’s Mail Protection may pose a threat to Twitter’s newsletter ambition.

“This is another sign that Apple’s war on targeted advertising isn’t just about screwing up Facebook,” wrote Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, “They’re coming also for your sub-stack. ”

Wrap

From a user perspective, the push for privacy is a positive step. Often times, people tend to misuse user information / data and flood them with spam emails and advertisements with or without their knowledge.

Besides Apple, Google is also leaning towards confidentiality. The search giant has launched several privacy-focused features on Google I / O.

Barry said he’s a big fan of more privacy controls for consumers, but stressed the need for a better solution for ethical creators to keep lists clean and follow best practices. “I hope Apple, Google and others will make these tools available so that we can all follow their guidelines,” he said.

Harry L. Blanchard