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Why iOS15 Will Change Email Marketing Forever (And Why This Is A Good Thing)

If you’re not in the email marketing world, then you might’ve missed perhaps the most important update to email marketing since before the internet.


A lot of email marketers are freaking out about this update. Because, like winter coming in Game of Thrones, it’s bringing…


The Death of Open Rates As We Know It!


Press F for open rate metrics.


If you missed Apple’s announcement, here’s what’s happening:


Apple plans to launch iOS15 sometime in the fall. And as part of their push for more “transparency” and security, they’re removing the ability to see if people using the Apple Mail app opened your emails.


Apple Mail owns about 48% of market share — compare that to another popular email, Gmail, who only has 28% market share.


In other words, open rates are officially dead. Rejoice!


Here’s how open rate tracking worked in the past and how Apple sacrificed it to serve both the new and old gods:


Inside every email you send through an ESP (email service provider) such as Klaviyo, Constant Contact, or Mailchimp, they’d add a tiny image, called a pixel. Whenever someone opened an email, these software companies are able to tell because of this tiny image. And that’s how they would report your open rates.


Apple will make this more inaccurate than it’s been before (more on the inaccuracy of open rates later) by “opening” each email behind the scenes. Meaning, you’ll soon have 100% open rates from anyone who opens your email on Apple Mail — whether they actually opened your email or not.


So yeah. Hasta la vista open rates.


Now, let me throw on my tin foil hat here for a second about Apple’s update:


Another big update Apple made in iOS14 was removing the ability for companies to track you across third-party apps. This is huge in the world of online advertising — where “retargeting” someone with your ads as they browse the internet is now much harder with than before. And in online advertising, retargeting was where the leprechaun was at the end of the rainbow.


They’re making both updates in the name of protecting your online data.


But in my tad bit sinister mind, I think Apple has something else up their sleeves:


They’re Taking Back Control Of Your Data So They Can Create Their Own Advertising Network And Compete With Other Big Tech Behemoths Like Facebook And Google!


Of course, Apple hasn't confirmed this. But when they announce their own advertising network in the future, remember you heard it here first.


Okay, so open rates are dead and gone. But what does this mean for email marketing?


Let’s discuss:


First, open rates were never a reliable metric!


There are a bunch of technical reasons that made open rates irrelevant before Apple’s update. For example, Android phones have never been able to properly track open rates.


But it goes much deeper than the inaccuracy of the open rates themselves.


Because Open Rates Are Nothing More Than An Overly Glorified Vanity Metric!


Here’s what I mean:


For as long as internet gurus became a thing, people have been praying to the altar of open rates. Their reasoning behind it? More opens leads to more possible clicks and (hopefully) more sales!


See what I did there?


The only important metric in email marketing is how many sales you made. And open rates are a roundabout way to try to predict how many sales you’ll make with an email.


But open rates themselves are just a vanity metric.


It’s like caring more about who had more yards in a football game instead of who scored more points. Or caring more if a basketball player got a triple-double than if his team won.


Sure, more yards can mean more points. And scoring a triple-double can lead your team to win.


But correlation isn’t causation!


And, in fact, the opposite is usually true:


For example, if a football team is losing in a game, they’re more likely to throw passes. Passes usually result in more yards. So having more yards could actually mean that you’re more likely to lose!


Same in basketball.


Russell Westbrook won the MVP when he averaged a triple-double across an entire season. But his team only went 47-35 that season (.523 winning average), they were the 6th seed in the playoffs, and lost in the first round.


Vanity metrics ain’t nothing to write home about. And that’s what open rates are!


More:


Like in the examples above, higher open rates often result in less sales.


Why?


Because email marketers obsess over open rates to the point that they “poison” their relationship with their list.


For example:


One of the most popular subject line formulas involves tricking your audience. Like putting “re:” at the beginning of your subject line to make it seem like it’s a response from someone else. These emails get a high number of opens — but they do so by tricking your list.


Tricking your list ruins your relationship with your list. (Think Loki in any Thor movie — Thor wants to love Loki but can’t because Loki always has tricks up his sleeve that harm Thor and ruin their relationship.)


Here’s the rub:


Open rates were already obsolete before iOS15!


And now email marketers are gonna have to focus on another vanity metric to disguise their incompetence at making sales.


Now, that’s not to say that checking in on your open rates every once in a blue moon isn’t helpful for checking the hygiene of your list.


But other than that? Open rates were useless. But now they’ll be even more useless.


Alright. I just smacked down open rates and the philosophy behind caring about open rates.


Again, they’re semi-important for tracking the hygiene of your list.


But they won’t be after iOS15 rolls out.


So let’s talk about other, improved ways to track the hygiene of your list.


5 Bonafide Things You Can Do Today To “Bulletproof” Yourself Against iOS15


Like we discussed, open rates already weren’t the best way to measure engagement with your audience. But it was still somewhat useful — and will continue to be until iOS15 rolls out.


So here are 5 bonafide ways to bulletproof yourself, your email marketing, and your sales before iOS15 comes:


1. Write superior emails

This seems obvious. And it is. (Remember the story of Obvious Adams we covered in The easiest, quickest, and least painful way to double (or triple) your email sales article?)


But it’s something the open rate people never focused on. Because it’s a helluva lot easier to use lame tricks in your emails like “re:” and “FWD:” than writing emails that persuade someone to buy something.


Yet just by writing better emails that people want to open, you’ll become immune to iOS15.


(If you need help with writing better emails, read through all the articles on this site or schedule a Discovery call with me here: https://calendly.com/johndbrandt/discovery-call)


Since all the articles on my site are about writing better emails, I’ll leave this idea here.


Onward.


2. Engagement Salad

This is a more technical idea.


Remember how I said open rates were semi-important for measuring the health of your list?


This is that idea on steroids.


Here’s what I mean:


Inside your ESP, you probably have a truckload of different engagement metrics available.


Let's use Klaviyo for example.


Inside Klaviyo, here’s all your options when measuring engagement:

  • What someone has done (or not done)

  • Properties about someone

  • If someone is or is not within the EU (GDPR)

  • Someone’s proximity to a location

  • If someone is in or not in a list

  • If someone is or is not suppressed for email

  • If someone is or is not consented to receive SMS

  • Predictive analytics about someone

Each of these engagement categories have hundreds of different metrics available you can use to gauge engagement. And here are real examples you can use to see how engaged someone is with your emails and company or not:

  1. If someone visited your website in the last 30-90 days

  2. If they subscribed to a list

  3. If they’ve joined your list in the last 60-90 days

  4. If they’ve updated their email preferences

  5. If they’ve started or cancelled a subscription

  6. If they’ve ordered a product in the last 120 days

  7. If someone has viewed a product in the last 120 days

  8. If someone has clicked or responded to an email in the last 120 days

And there’s a whole lot more. This is just to give you an example.


But you can turn this right here into your Master Engaged List — and folks who enter this list get your emails (whether they’ve “opened” an email or not).


Most ESPs will have the same or similar engagement metrics you can use.


You just have to get creative, think deep, and you can create an engaged list like this in under an hour. Approach it like you would if you’re making a salad. You can make tasty and creative salads even if you can’t use your favorite dressing.


Capisce?


3. Smarter Segmenting

This is kinda like Engagement Salad, but a little different.


Segmenting is super important in email marketing because your best segments make you the most money (even if they don’t have as many people in them).


This is the 80/20 rule in action — 20% of your customers generate 80% of your revenue.


Here are a 3 ways to create better segments (and hat tip to the esteemed Chris Orzechowski for these segment formulas):

  1. Interest Segments — where you segment people who expressed interest in a certain product, category, or topic. Like folks interested in Weight Loss.

  2. Action Segments — where you segment people who performed a certain action. Like clicking a link in an email, viewing a product, entering your abandoned cart segments, or ordering a product.

  3. Characteristics Segments — where you segment people based on who they are. For example, throwing all your buyers into one segment. (Side note: buyers are ALWAYS more profitable than non-buyers). Or creating a segment of people who have bought from you multiple times. Or even people who have spent a certain dollar amount with your company.

None of what I mentioned thus far has anything to do with open rates. Yet, it’s all more accurate and powerful than what you’ll discover from tracking open rates. And iOS15 ain’t even here yet.


You can add some paprika to this by creating what I call an “RFM Segment” as well.


RFM stands for


R — Recency (how recently someone has purchased).


F — Frequency (how often someone purchases).


M — Monetary (how much money someone spends).


So for example, your new RFM Segment could look like this:

  1. All people who have ordered a product in the last 30 days

  2. All people who have ordered 3 (or more) products in the last 90 days

  3. All people who have spent at least $300 in the last 90 days

You might want to adjust these according to your unique bizness. But I’m willing to bet big money that this segment is way more profitable than almost any other segment you’ve created.


4. Elongate your sequences

Nope, not talking about Elon and dogecoin.


Here’s what I mean:



The point of that article was…


More emails = more moolah.


And that’s what we’re doing here.


Besides making more moolah, we’re also giving our customers and leads more opportunities to interact with our brand. That way, they join the Master Engaged List or one of the segments I mentioned above.


This is extra important with something like your welcome sequence.


When someone joins your welcome sequence, they have a reason.


And by doubling your welcome sequence from, say, 5 emails to 10 emails, you’re giving yourself more opportunities to help them solve their problems.


(I recommend going even longer than 10 — the sweet spot is more around 20-30 welcome emails especially when iOS15 rolls out.)


But other than your welcome sequence, you can also elongate sequences like…

  • Your abandoned cart sequence

  • Your browse abandonment sequence

  • Your cross-sell/upsell sequence

  • Your customer winback sequence

  • Your new customer thank you sequence

  • Your product review sequence

And any other sequence you have. (The above list is not exhaustive — but if you don’t have all the sequences I mentioned above set up, you’re leaving money on the table every month.)


The point here is two-fold:


1. You’re sending more emails — and have more chances to “pimp your personality,” tell stories, “twist the knife,” and inject contrast so you create a loyal bond with your readers.


2, You’re giving your audience more chances to interact with you so you can determine if they’re worthy of your business or not.


Which brings us to…


5. Stop worrying about open rates (and other vanity metrics)

This last one is more of a mindset thang.


But it’s just as important (if not more so) than the other 4 ways in this list.


Here’s why:


Open rates have never mattered much. Even click and click through rates aren’t that important.


You know what’s really important?


Sales.


Everything else is less important than sales.


And I’ll prove it:


Which would you choose from the example below?


Company A sends an email and gets 2% open rates, 0.01% click rate, but makes $10,000 in revenue.


Company B sends an email and gets 54% open rates, 30% click rate, but makes $100 in sales.


Everyone picks Company A.


Your Bank Account Doesn’t Care About Open Rates (And You Shouldn’t Either)


Got it? Good.


Do these 5 things and you won’t even notice that iOS15 affected your email marketing. In fact, you might even THANK Apple for this update because it forced you to focus on what’s more important.


If you need help setting any of this up or improving your email marketing strategy (before or after iOS15), I offer email marketing consulting and a done-for-you ghostwriting system I call Profit First Emails.


If’n you’re interested, set up a discovery call with me using the link below:



But I don’t always have more room for new clients on my schedule.


If the link above is dead, it means I’m not currently accepting clients. But you can still join my waitlist below and be the first to know when a new client spot opens up:



John Brandt


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