What Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Means for PR and Comms Pros

Following the last decade of data breaches, and the introduction of GDPR in the European Union, there is more attention than ever on how organizations go about online user tracking. From what companies are tracking and from whom, to what they do with the data they collect.

While many tech companies have decided to focus on stronger data security and user anonymization to meet their new legal obligations and public expectations, Apple chose a completely different strategy in 2019: They declared themselves a “privacy-first company,” pledging to be transparent with their users on what data is being collected, giving them the tools to opt-out and then, last year, blocking third-party cookies on their Safari web browser.

Now Apple is going even further to help users protect their privacy. Apple recently announced they will allow users to block email tracking pixels on the Apple Mail app on iOS 15.

Here’s what you need to know:

How do email tracking pixels work?

An email tracking pixel is a small image (usually transparent and 1 pixel by 1 pixel) that is attached to an email when it is sent. The URL for each individual image is unique, and when that image is loaded, it tells the sender that a specific user opened an email; however, this does not affect email delivery and click through rates, as tracking of those metrics occurs via alternative methods.

What does this mean for me?

Naturally, Apple’s decision has huge implications for anyone who uses software that tracks email opens. Email marketers will need to reset expectations with their executives and stakeholders on which metrics demonstrate the health of their programs. Likewise, B2B new business sales will not be able to see when a prospect opens their email, which helps them determine where to prioritize their efforts.

The change will also be felt by PR and Communications professionals who use a media relationship management tool like Cision Connect, as our email announcement capabilities currently report email open rates. Cision’s open rates have been around 15-20% over the last few years, which is consistent with industry benchmarks. However, we expect our open rates to drop by 5-10% after Apple launches iOS 15.

So, do I need to start panicking?

Nope. Here’s why: According to the 2021 State of the Media Report that we published earlier this year, 53% percent of journalists say they receive more than 50 pitches a week, and 28% receive more than 100 per week. In short: Journalists are inundated with pitches. On top of that, these pitches often end up in the trash folder: 69% of journalists say only a quarter (or less) of the pitches they receive are relevant to their audiences.

All of this is to say that, even if journalists are opening their email pitches, they’re quickly assessing their relevance and deleting those that aren’t. So while those emails are considered “opened”, they will not achieve your ultimate KPI, which is media coverage.

Okay, now what?

Start focusing more on clickthrough rates and actual coverage generated from a pitch - as well as taking the time to ensure a journalist will be interested by your pitch. Focusing on quality pitches over quantity remains Cision’s number one recommendation when building relationships with the media.

(P.S. If you want help crafting more effective pitches and maximizing your earned media’s impact, check out our Pitch Perfect eBook with our recommendations and best practices.)

 

About Jessica Andrews

Jessica Andrews is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Cision, focusing on Cision's monitoring, analytics and attribution products. Prior to Cision, she worked for Telaria (now Magnite), a leading Ad Tech provider for publishers, and at the City of Toronto as a Communications Assistant.

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