How to build a segmentation strategy for Apple iOS users

How to build a segmentation strategy for Apple iOS users

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In June 2021, Apple threw the world of email marketing into chaos with the imminent arrival of iOS 15’s Mail Privacy Protection feature. Nearly 1 year on, here’s how we’ve adapted to the changes for our clients.

A Recap of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) Feature

Apple’s MPP feature was a continuation of iOS 14’s enhanced privacy settings giving user’s more control over third-party tracking abilities used by companies to monitor consumer behaviour.

While iOS 14 focused on third-party cookies, iOS 15 saw consumers empowered with the ability to disable tracking pixels that ESPs such as Klaviyo use to monitor open rates.

Apple now preloads assets such as images in the ISP so that senders cannot effectively track when someone opens their email.

For marketers, the challenge is two-fold:

  1. We need to find new metrics to track for Apple users to determine engagement
  2. We need to identify Apple users (where possible) in order to protect our sender reputation

Why does it matter if we can’t track opens?

It matters as inbox providers such as Gmail and Outlook use engagement metrics to categorise you as a good or bad sender.

If you’re not efficiently able to track open rates for up to half of your customers, then you increase the likelihood of ending up in the spam folder over time if you continuously send to this unengaged segment.

If you’re dealing with a list of hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers, the implications of following such a reckless strategy is massive.

Thus, a solution is required to mitigate potential damage and maintain sender reputation.

1: Find new metrics to track for Apple users to determine engagement

Anybody that’s been using Brave Browser is aware that user privacy is a feature likely to continue. It will be more commonplace to use different metrics beyond opens for email engagement so this is good practice to get into the rhythm for further changes on the horizon.

There are a few options to consider incorporating here. I’d recommend bringing the following metrics into your general engaged segments:

  • Clicked email within X period of time
  • Active on site in the last X amount of days
  • Purchased product in the last X amount of days

Using clicks is the most important engagement signal here, since users may also have disabled web tracking and not necessarily be engaged with email just because they've been shopping on your website.

I’d also recommend narrowing the latter two down to a shorter timeframe so that you don’t risk alerting spam filters by sending too frequently to unengaged users. However, they are viable options you may wish to consider, since your goal should be to maximise the reach of your campaigns.

2: Determine Mail Privacy Protection Users

We have Klaviyo to thank for helping us detect MPP users with the release of this new feature.

How to create a new segmentation strategy for email campaigns

Here is the three-step process you’ll now want to follow to create a new segmentation strategy that protects your sender reputation:

  1. Identify MPP users
  2. Identify unengaged MPP users
  3. Create new conditions in your engaged segment to prevent sending to unengaged MPP users

NOTE: always use a single list as a source of truth when doing any type of advanced segmentation and data analysis such as this. I’ll be releasing more on this topic in the future but just bear in mind having multiple lists in the account makes segmenting effectively infinitely more difficult.

1: Identify Mail Privacy Protection Users

Create a segment inside the account that uses the following settings:

2: Identify Unengaged Mail Privacy Protection Users

Using clicks as the basis for engagement as a fallback for open tracking being unreliable, we’ll now want to create a segment using the following settings:

You’ll notice that I’m using 30 days as a base for the definition of “unengaged” here.

Feel free to expand this to 60, or even 90 days, depending on the frequency of your communication strategy and individual marketing plan.

If you want to make this more bulletproof, add an additional condition into the mix that ensures that the customer has received X number of emails within that specific timeframe as well. This way, you won’t suppress people you weren’t emailing anyway from receiving future campaigns.

3: Create a New Segmentation Strategy

In your revised segmentation strategy, you’re going to want to simply use Clicks to determine engagement for MPP users:

As above, you will need to determine the timeframe where you categorise an engaged user.

You may want to create additional segments for 60 or 90 days to ensure that you’re not casting too narrow a net in your broad campaign targeting.

Lastly, you may add additional permutations into the above such as “Active on Site within the last X days” or “Placed Order within the last X days”.

This may, of course, rope in people who don’t engage over email who aren’t necessarily MPP users.

If you wanted to be extremely meticulous, the best way to do this would be to leave the above segment as it is and then adjoin it to an additional segment exclusively for MPP users that incorporates these additional permutations.

This would be the best way to protect your overall deliverability and ensure healthy inbox placement over the long-term.

Concluding Thoughts

These changes are no longer optional, they’re mandatory. Don’t put off modifying your segmentation strategy otherwise you’re in for a nasty shock when the ISPs start categorising you as a bad sender over the coming months.

And with the onset of new privacy laws on the horizon, expect changes like these to become commonplace in your email marketing strategy going forward.

Stay ahead of the curve as falling behind can have serious consequences for your overall CRM strategy.

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