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[News] Apple upsets the newsletter cart

In Monday’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced a number of new software updates. Nothing seemed to catch the attention of the tech world—and many small businesses—like their new Mail Privacy Protection announcement. MPP will be coming to iOS 15 this fall, and opting in will stop email senders from collecting recipient data.

So what’s ‘recipient data’? Each time an email is opened, an invisible pixel sends data back to the email platform. The pixel captures who opened the email, their location, and type of device. It gives the timethe email was read, if it was opened multiple times, and so on.

And for people who use email for their business, this is marketing gold.. If you send out a newsletter or a sales email, you might use your open rate to determine how engaged your audience is. You can also examine your data to see if one newsletter performed better than another, allowing you to tweak things for the future. There’s also a financial component, as most email marketing platforms charge users based on the number of subscribers, so there’s a significant incentive to remove subscribers who never open emails.

As reported in The Verge, Apple describes the mobile update as follows:

“In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops 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.”

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said the company doesn’t think it’s right for third-party companies to collect email data. “We believe in protecting your privacy and giving you transparency and control over your information,” Federighi said, as reported by CNet.

How big of a problem is this for email marketers? According to Joshua Benton of Nieman Lab, Apple Mail is the most popular email software. He cites data from Litmus, a major email marketing company, that shows 61.7% of all emails are opened within Apple Mail (mobile + desktop). He notes that while that is larger than Apple’s market share, Apple users statistically spend a lot more time reading email than Android users do.

Apple’s decision to block email trackers means that open-rate data will become essentially meaningless, with potentially huge consequences for small businesses. In a Medium post, Matt Taylor, a product manager at the Financial Times, notes that small businesses rely on email more heavily, and have fewer resources to pay for unengaged subscribers.

“Where previously you could unsubscribe readers who hadn’t opened your newsletter to save money,” Taylor says, “now you don’t know if they’re loyal or not. You’ll have to find other ways to entice them to let you know they are reading.”

What does the future of digital marketing look like in light of Apple’s announcement? Well,  it will require some changes, but it might not be all bad news—as Namecheap’s Email Marketing Manager Clinton Wilmot suggests:

“This might be a watershed moment for email marketing in general but also could be a huge opportunity to innovate. Not being able to use the last open date for segmentation and targeting will have huge implications for all sorts of lifecycle campaigns. Also features like send-time optimization, countdown timers, and even interactive email might be affected.”

The good news is that we still have a few months before these changes take effect. It will be worth watching what email and newsletter  platforms like Litmus, Mailchimp, Active Campaign, and Substack do in response. As a company that both uses email marketing and keeps on top of tech trends, we at Namecheap will definitely be paying attention. 

In other news

  • Cyberattacks to be treated like terrorism in the US. In the wake of significant cyberattacks against American companies such as the Colonial Pipeline, the U.S. Department of Justice will begin to treat ransomware attacks akin to the way they address acts of terrorism. According to a new document released by the DOJ, and as reported by Gizmodo, such attacks demonstrate the “growing threat that ransomware and digital extortion pose to the nation.” The DOJ notes that due to the threats that these cyber attacks pose to critical industries and infrastructure, the government “must enhance and centralize our internal tracking.” 
  • Your Amazon doorbell could be a police informant. Amazon’s Ring doorbell and CCTV system records quite a lot of curbside activity. According to the company, Ring gets many requests for police assistance to check out clips to solve local crimes. Concerned that customers might want to know just when and where their front yard is made available to the cops, Ring has created a public forum on their website to show this info. Worth noting, Ring is obliged to give the police any recordings subject to warrants and court orders — but now you’ll know what’s been handed over.
  • Who turned out the lights? A major Internet outage happened Tuesday when websites as varied as Spotify, Stripe, The Guardian, The New York Times, and Hulu suddenly disappeared for about an hour. The outage even affected the UK Government’s website at GOV.UK. The culprit? A ‘glitch’ at CDN network Fastly. As noted on TechCrunch, Fastly called it a “global CDN disruption” and suggested it affected the company’s entire network.

    Fastly admitted on its blog that the outage happened due to an “undiscovered software bug” that “was triggered by a valid customer configuration change.”

    During the outage, The Verge tried to update its readers via a Google Docs link they shared on Twitter. However, in an amusing turn of events, as noted by an editor at The Guardian, The Verge forgot to make their Google Doc “view only,” so crafty readers were able to edit it.

Tip of the week

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Jackie Dana avatar

Jackie Dana

Jackie has been writing since childhood. As the Namecheap blog’s content manager and regular contributor, she loves bringing helpful information about technology and business to our customers. In her free time, she enjoys drinking copious amounts of black tea, writing novels, and wrangling a gang of four-legged miscreants. More articles written by Jackie.

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