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Nicole Crilley

By: Nicole Crilley on July 23rd, 2021

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Why Apple’s New Privacy Policy Works

digital best practices | consent based marketing | data ethics

mailto:demo@example.com?Subject=HighRoad Solutions - interesting article

Earlier this summer, Apple announced its upcoming (Fall 2021) release of iOS 15, which touts a number of new privacy features that will help users control and monitor how their data is being used.

With the growing push towards increased privacy and consent-based data collection in Big Tech, this announcement comes as no surprise. So, how does it affect association marketers and professionals?

Let’s first take a deep breath, then a deep dive into why this isn't the end of all marketing as we know it 😎

According to Apple, Mail Privacy Protection will “stop senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.” (Apple Press Release, June 2021). 

In short, you (the marketer) will no longer have accurate open rates for users viewing your emails on the Apple Mail app. This accounts for about 11% of all email users, and that number may change depending on the audience(s) you’re trying to reach.

While 11% may seem like a small piece of the pie, the reality is that increased privacy protections will almost certainly not end with the Apple initiative, and this release will likely have a ripple effect on other Email Service Providers such as Gmail, Outlook, and others.

So, rather than looking at iOS 15 as an isolated case, we're recommending all marketers take this opportunity to move with the grain, not against it. It's time to wean off of surface KPIs into more meaningful metrics such as clicks and conversions.  

Bottom line—don’t panic. But don’t ignore it.
This is the time to consider what's truly important when it comes to associations—engagement and growth. Both are driven by content consumption whether paid or unpaid. Investing in a new, conversion-based email strategy now will pay dividends down the road as ESPs continue to take steps toward protecting users’ privacy.

Because HighRoad Solutions' driving philosophy is to align associations with the right data and tech stacks, we’re here to help you move in that direction. 

Move toward metrics with muscle
There are a variety of ways that organizations measure the success of their email campaigns. Let’s break them down:
  • Deliverability: When you talk about “deliverability,” you're really talking about sender reputation. This can be influenced by data quality and the interactions and content you serve up to your constituents. Do you have active, current email addresses for the individuals you’re trying to reach, are your emails reaching them, or are they being blocked/spammed?
  • Open Rates: Many organizations measure the success of their email programs by open rates. But what is this really measuring? In the end, it's measuring the relationship you have with your audience and the quality of the subject line that enticed them to open. While there may be an inference of content loyalty, it doesn't illustrate much more about the email, and quality of content, at that particular time. 
  • Click-Through Rate: When you measure success by CTR, you're really asking the question, “Is the messaging and CTA compelling enough for the individual to take action or learn more?” The click in itself is a measurement of mid funnel interest. This is a much more indicative signal of whether your content and programming is resonating with your users. 
  • Conversion Rate: When you dive into conversion rate, you're going beyond the click into results. Conversions are, by definition, your users taking action on your version of success. And your success endpoint can be anything—filling out a form, donating, purchasing a product, or registering for an event.

It's clear there are different indicators for campaign success. And, by design, as your audiences move down the funnel, your relationship with them gets more meaningful. 

So it only makes sense that you start putting more weight on the metrics that sit at the bottom of the funnel, where your interactions already have more meaning. That's what Apple is on track with its privacy policy; a perspective that any marketer would understand—it's about quality not quantity.

The volume play has lost its juice
Volume is a thing of the past. It's now about getting content consumption and conversions to: fulfill your member promise through enhanced engagement; and create revenue growth for sustainable financial health.
And objectively speaking, when it comes to your members, being mindful of their time and their inbox is a good thing. It's important that all end-users have control over the way their data is being collected and used. Association members, who are ready-baked audiences for program upsells, are no exception.
So this is all logical and well intended. But, as marketers, you're most likely still battling with program goals and leadership expectations. This can make moving to consent-based philosophies, from an organization-wide perspective, difficult. 
Because let's be real. The 'perception' of lost access to data is a big deal. Even if we intrinsically know that the data is less lost and more prioritized, other departments may not feel the same way.
As a result, you as the marketer are challenged with not only reaching and engaging audiences in new ways, but in demonstrating wins along the way. Here's how you make this happen:
Opportunity #1: Gather more meaningful data
When you’re collecting data on individuals who've simply opened your email, you're cutting yourself short on meaningful data, and you're not vetting who's truly a good fit for your organization or your programming.
However, when you begin to drill down and collect data on those who have clicked and (even better) converted or completed an action, you’re gleaning actionable and relevant behavioral data to guide your segmentation strategy.
Opportunity #2: Serve up better re-engagement campaigns 
Many organizations are currently using open rates as triggers for re-engagement. The assumption is that, those who 'opened' the email, may be convinced for the second go-around. Not necessarily the case. Remember that those who opened the email but didn't take any form of action, most likely were opening based on brand loyalty or reflex.
In other words, a member may think, "This is coming from my association. I'm paying for this. I should open it." Or they may be waiting on an announcement that they know is coming from your organization. Whatever the case, if they didn't click through on the email itself, they either weren't ready to act or they were disinterested in the content. As such, a re-engagement campaign may be underwhelming for this contact. 
Now imagine a member or customer who acted in a number of ways previously but somewhere fell off from an engagement perspective. Whether downloading content, attending a webinar, or volunteering, they showed a level of interest with and commitment to your organization. Think of how much more granular and effective your re-engagement campaigns would be if you focused on bottom-of-funnel activity versus cursory and often, noncommittal, activity. 
Opportunity #3: Create better content
Moving away from surface metrics means moving into metrics with more story and depth. Content underpins all of this. It's not enough to pull the numbers at the end of the campaign. You need the right content in place to influence those numbers. 
And yes, they'll still 'open' your emails. That's not going away. But the content you're anchoring your campaigns with will put more power behind your clicks.  As a marketer, this means you need a concerted content strategy in place, and you need to consistently starting thinking about—and testing—the value of your content with a lens on your goals and audiences.
Making the move, one click at a time
Hopefully there's a universal understanding within your org that this shift doesn’t have to happen overnight or all at once. Start small. Master that. And then move onto the next. Here are some steps to get you there.
Step 1—Share this blog or our upcoming webinar (details to come). It can help you cultivate the idea that opens just aren't 'in' anymore. Culturally start to propagate the idea that your organization's KPIs need to be more substantive.
Step 2—Start by moving from Opens to Clicks in all of your reporting meetings and dashboards, and be transparent why've you've made these changes. Look at engagement rates for your last few email campaigns and ask yourself some questions:
  • Are your members and prospects enticed to click on free educational content?
  • Are they clicking to learn more about an upcoming event or program offering?
  • Do you tend to see higher engagement on your dedicated emails or are you seeing a bigger response to your monthly newsletter updates?
  • Are you seeing higher engagement when your copy ratio is much lower than your content ratio?
  • On average, how many emails does it take for your members and customers to act? 
  • Are there specific segments that tend to click more than others?

Step 3—Issue A/B testing with quality emails that entice your readers to click. Don't just create one-off tests. Put strategy behind your testing methods. Consider testing:

  • Long-form updates or articles versus short blurbs with links to read more
  • Different visual formats, from imagery, to layouts, to scanability, etc.
  • Hard sell calls to action versus educational and motivational teasers
  • Content formats like handbooks versus infographics versus videos

Once you’ve honed in on the visual elements, formats, and content types that resonate best with your audiences, now it’s time to focus on conversion measurement. This step may involve adding some code to your website in order to link website activity back to your email activity. We can help with this step if you need it. 

Lean hard into conversion tracking tools
Conversion tracking systems are no brainers. Put business rules in place that "automagically" keeps tabs on what event, or series of events, can be attributed to the final sale or action. 
And while that sounds easy, you need the right platform and functionality in place to execute on it from an auto- and integrated-reporting perspective.
Most omni-channel marketing automation platforms, like HubSpot, SharpSpring, and Marketo, have the functionality baked in. Only some email marketing platforms, such as Adestra, have either configurable or standardized conversion tracking functionality. So what makes Adestra's conversion tracker such a viable option as surface metrics are sunset?
Why Adestra's tracking fits the bill
Adestra's aptly named, Conversion Tracker, takes into account all of your users' interactions so that you're reporting on weighted goal attribution. 
From a technical standpoint, Conversion Tracker utilizes JavaScript and cookies to track a user’s activity once they’ve clicked on your email. All tracking and attribution is then sent back to Adestra for single dashboard reporting.

From an objectives standpoint, Conversion Tracker gives you a full picture of the activity generated by your email campaigns. 

  • Ties attributable marketing revenue, and ultimately ROI, back to specific campaigns and emails. 
  • Enables you to forecast the results of future campaigns and efforts. By analyzing the results you’re seeing over time, you're able to make data-driven decisions about future campaigns. 
  • Assign values to each phase of the journey so that you're not just tracking your final conversion; you're tracking linear interactions in between the start and finish line.
Embrace change that makes sense
With all trends pointing to consent-based marketing and metrics with meaning, it’s lime to put legacy mindsets to rest. Apple, along with a few other muscle-bound changemakers are already making moves. Make sure you and your organization don't get left behind. 

Not sure where to start? We can help.
We can help. Book time with us and we'll point you in the right direction. 

About Nicole Crilley

Nicole is a digital strategist and content designer with 10 years of experience in email marketing automation, web design, marketing technology, user experience, and content production. With a versatile background in freelance, consulting, and corporate settings, Nicole specializes in identifying and implementing effective digital strategies.