If you keep up to date with the latest digital marketing news, you’re probably aware of the iOS 14.5 app tracking update, which allowed users to opt-out of tracking on apps such as Facebook and Instagram. This autumn will see the introduction of iOS 15 and Mail Privacy Protection, allowing users to hide both their IP address and their open data, and for iCloud+ users to hide their email address. This will make it more difficult to collect accurate data on email open rates for campaigns and automation. In fact, it effectively ends email open rates as a trusted marketing metric.
At the moment, the changes will only affect Apple Mail users (around 58% of the global market share), but this may be the first step towards an industry-wide change. Tests show that Apple Mail is likely to report 100% open rates for its users, which will affect both your deliverability and list cleaning efforts. The lack of reliability in the metric means that going forward, it is inadvisable to use in data-driven marketing decisions.
However, let’s treat this with the same level of optimism as the iOS 14.5 update – we should see this as an opportunity to learn, grow, and generate more trust between your customers and your brand.
A new approach to email marketing metrics
The launch of iOS 15 requires a new approach to measuring campaigns and segmenting subscriber data.
- One of your primary metrics should be clicks, as these demonstrate a better level of engagement. Open rates should only be used as a secondary measure, if at all.
- Track website activity and purchase behaviour. Recent purchases are obviously the highest level of engagement and the ultimate goal of your email campaigns. Most effective email marketing platforms will integrate with your site to allow you to track subscriber activity following receipt of a campaign.
- Validate contacts and keep your lists as clean as possible. This will avoid spam traps or invalid email addresses. As with the introduction of GDPR, you can send subscribers an email asking if they still wish to receive communications and ask them to click a button or link to confirm their subscription. You may lose some subscribers, but the remaining list will be far more likely to engage with future campaigns. Another option is to use third-party tools like Mailgun, to cleanse invalid and spam addresses.
- Monitor negative metrics as well as positive. Metrics such as unsubscribes, bounces (hard and soft) and spam reports offer an indication of potential issues with your list and content and can negatively affect future deliverability.
- Double opt-in is where a confirmation email is sent after a user subscribes. It is a great way of ensuring that email addresses and that subscribers are not bots.
- Inbox placement testing allows you to identify and fix delivery problems before you send an email campaign to your main list. This will give you an idea of the performance of your campaign and its placement in subscribers’ inboxes.
- Look for opportunities to increase your content clickability by adding more clickable items and elements in your campaigns and automation. Consider adding a ‘Forward to a Friend’ button, or links to your social media channels.
What about A/B testing?
At Kariba, we often measure the performance of different subject lines and the use of power words or emojis using A/B tests. The higher the open rate, the more effective the tactic. Moving forward, this will need to change, most likely using click-through rate (CTR) as a performance metric. Although less obvious than open rates, it will still yield results and can be used to test a range of factors. Remember, as with any split testing, the more variables you introduce, the less easy it is to identify which variable has caused the desired result – keep it simple!
Segmenting your data effectively
To market effectively, you should be constantly looking for opportunities to segment your data – offering subscribers the information they want, when and how they want it is the true meaning of personalisation. The lack of open rates means that segmenting by opening or send time will no longer work, so it’s time to consider alternatives to grouping subscribers into usable, manageable lists.
- Subscription date – segmenting by subscription date and highlighting older subscribers who are more likely to become inactive is an effective way to keep your lists clean.
- Type of clicks – if you have introduced several click opportunities in a campaign, which are more important? Can you differentiate those clicking on the main call-to-action from those following lesser links?
- Conversion rates – these will always be less than open rates but offer a good measure of how successful your campaigns are in generating tangible actions – such as a purchase or lead.
- RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) analysis – essential for eCommerce marketing, segmenting by recency (how recently the subscriber has clicked on a campaign), frequency (how often they engage with campaigns), and monetary (average order value), will play an important role in creating a customer lifecycle map for your lists.
The future of email marketing
Despite its bad rep and the reluctance of many organisations to invest in email platforms over social media, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach new customers and retain existing ones. It is particularly vital for small businesses in ensuring their brand stays top of mind and is clearly differentiated in the market. Don’t be put off or confused by the reliability of metrics. Even if you’re sending out one regular update per month, it’s likely to have a direct effect on your leads and sales.
The best way to get started is to take out a free trial of Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Omnisend or similar and have a play. And of course, whether you’re an email marketing newbie or a regular sender, you can get in touch with the team at Kariba, who will be more than happy to offer the support and advice you need to improve your campaigns.