Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

Article author
Kirk Bentley
  • Updated

How Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection Will Affect You.

Apple is launching new software updates in September 2021 which block the use of tracking pixels in email campaigns. This will likely have broad impacts for email marketers.

 While we won’t have all the details until the update is released, we have been working hard to uncover the impacts for you. Here’s what we know.


What’s Changing

Apple is releasing updates to iOS 15, macOS Monterey, iPadOS 15, and WatchOS 8 which include the ability to:

  • Hide open email behavior by pre-loading email images, including tracking pixels
  • Hide subscriber location data by blocking IP addresses
  • Obscure click-through activity by using a proxy email address

This is all part of Apple’s larger focus on privacy for the end user. So far, other privacy updates have high adoption rates. We expect the same for this update.


Overall impact

Apple’s new technology will “pre-fetch” and open the images in your email campaigns. This means every email sent to an Apple device will be reported as opened.  

This update affects any email sent to any mailbox connected to an Apple native mail application. For example, if an Outlook mailbox is connected to the native email app on an iPhone, that will count as an open. It does not affect stand-alone mailbox apps like Gmail or Yahoo.
Open rates, open to click and engagement rates will not be accurate.

  • Automations and triggers based on opens will no longer be reliable
  • Segmentation or re-engagement campaigns based on opens will have issues
  • Forward tracking will be disabled.
  • A/B subject line testing based on opens won’t be accurate
  • Personalization based on “most engaged” or “regular opener” won’t be reliable
  • Location based countdown timers and other content won’t be accurate
  • Device ID will not be revealed anymore



We know mailboxes use open, click and other less visible engagement data in the algorithms which decide which if the mail goes to the inbox or spam folder. Nobody in the industry is quite sure what effect MPP will have on mail delivery. In the meantime, we recommend you:

Continue to track disengaged subscribers and remove from your lists
  • Stretch your metrics and make use of non-email activity to provide more clues
  • Focus re-engagement campaigns specifically asking for a click
  • Promote your preference center and continue to message your commitment to privacy


Changes in WordFly

You will likely notice changes in your metrics in late September or early October as the new OS update catches on. Look for:

  • Higher than normal open rates on all campaigns

  • Location tracking may no longer be reliable at the city and region/state level

How is WordFly responding to these changes?

We have been working hard to understand all the impacts both to our customers and the email marketing industry.

 Once the release is out and we can see the true impacts to our users, we’ll make updates as needed.

 We have already updated our integration settings and given user the new ability to turn off crm data. Learn more


Next Steps

Prepare your organization and leadership for change.
Open rates won’t have the same weight they used to. You’ll want to alert key stakeholders about the upcoming changes and prepare to explain why you now have much higher open rates.

Focus on 1st party data.
More privacy changes are on the way. Now is a good time to consider which customer data is most important and how to collect it.

Launch preference center.
Provide more choices and options to engage by launching a preference center giving your subscribers new ways of engaging with your email program.

Find a new north star.
What will be your new guiding metric for engagement? Open rates will be increasingly unreliable. Marketers will need to focus more on clicks and conversions.

Review your current open rates and other stats.
Make a mental note of your open rates prior to the change.  

Launch re-engagement campaigns now through email and other channels.
Now is a good time to ask disengaged subscribers to re-engage with your organization.

Make privacy and transparency part of your mission.
Explain what’s happening with email.