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iOS15 Doesn’t Mean The End Of Your Email & Paid Social Campaigns
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iOS15 Doesn’t Mean The End Of Your Email & Paid Social Campaigns

Don’t Despair – Why iOS15 Needn’t Spell The End Of Your Email & Paid Social Campaigns

Ssssh. If you’re quiet enough you might be able to hear it. Somewhere in the distance. The faint sound of a Digital Marketer pulling their hair out in frustration at Apple’s latest iOS updates.

First there was the iOS14 update, with its tweak to privacy and tracking permissions wreaking havoc with even the best paid social campaigns earlier this year. Then, before brands barely had time to get to grips with those changes, came the announcement of iOS15. This time, they had their privacy scope trained on email.  

Officially released earlier this week, it wasn’t all new melting face emojis 🫠 No sir. It also includes a new Mail Privacy Protection feature. “Privacy, eh? That sounds good”. 

Well. Maybe (head here for some reasons why tech isn’t all bad). But for email marketers it poses some challenges, preventing brands from knowing if a user has opened one of their emails, while also hiding IP addresses so they no longer have visibility on that user’s activity elsewhere. 

Coupled with the iOS14 updates previously mentioned, all these changes might leave you wondering if it spells the end for digital marketing? Well, we’re here to tell you it’s not dead yet. In fact, digital channels can still be the most cost-effective way to reach, engage and convert your audience. These changes just mean you’ll have to think slightly different about how you reach your audiences, and the metrics you use to measure your campaigns.

Below, we’ve looked at the changes iOS14’s update, and now iOS15, have brought and how you can counter them in both your paid social and email marketing efforts.

How to minimise the impact of iOS 15 and 14 updates on your Paid Social.

With some reports saying as many as 96% of people could eventually choose to opt-out of tracking on their iPhones, it almost goes without saying that the amount of data and information the social channels such as Facebook, Instagram & Twitter used to rely on to serve their ads is going to be greatly reduced. Previously, a user’s actions could be tracked right across a website or app and that information used to inform how the platforms serve your adverts – where they serve them, when they serve them and, most importantly, who to serve them to. 

But there are plenty of tactics we can still employ to ensure our campaigns remain relevant to users, and therefore effective. 


1.    Go Broader 
If you’ve ever tried using Lookalike or retargeting audiences on social, you’ll know these have the potential to be some of your most lucrative, high-performing audiences. And that can still be the case, but with opportunities to track user actions and pass this data back to the platforms reduced, we need to set our parameters a bit broader to give the platforms a chance to gather more data within the constrains of the iOS updates.

The best way to do this is to just go a bit broader with everything. If you were running a Lookalike audience on Facebook & Instagram set to a 1-2% match, try expanding that to 3-4% for example. If you were retargeting to website visitors from the past week, try setting that to the past fortnight instead.

2.    Interest based audiences become even more important.
Interest audiences were once king. That’s what made social advertising so effective in the first place, the ability to marry regular demographic targeting such as age, location or gender with more psychographic factors such as interests, behaviours and habits. 

With the lack of tracking reducing the size of your retargeting and lookalike audiences, interest targeting becomes super-important once more. So, revisit some of those audiences and make sure they’re all up to date and relevant to your audiences. To make sure they’re really working hard for you, try segmenting out certain interest groups & categories into smaller audiences and running some split-testing to hone in the most effective one. 

It’s also a really good time to think in a bit more detail about your customers. Revisit any target personas to make sure they’re as accurate  as they can be. In fact, we’d even suggest running some focus groups and further research to make sure you’ve got the most detailed picture possible of your consumers, their behaviours and interests. 

3.    Drive more interactions on-platform
As well as retargeting based on website actions, data lists or app activity, Facebook & Instagram’s ad platform allows you to retarget based on actions on the platform. So, where once you may have been running a website traffic campaign to help populate a retargeting pool, perhaps now it’s time to consider a post engagement or video views campaign, and use those interactions as the basis of your retargeting lists? 

As for B2B brands, it could be time to take this further and go all-in on Lead Form ads, rather than sending prospects to your website and losing vital tracking info.

4.    It’s time for some housekeeping on your data
On that point, it’s worth emphasising the importance of first party data lists such as emails and phone numbers to ensure as much accuracy as possible in your remarketing efforts. As well as making sure your existing data sets are as current and clean as possible, a renewed focus on data capture across other digital and physical touchpoints will go along way to ensuring the continued success of your paid social efforts. 

5.    Get testing. 
Apple’s update has removed the ability to accurately breakdown & report conversions and other key actions based on information such as age or gender. Whereas previously you could create an 18-35 yr old audience, serve ads and breakdown conversions by age, with the rollout of the iOS14 update, you can no longer see this detail. 

To get round this, it is simply a case of splitting audiences out into smaller segments initially, comparing performance of these and scaling the winning ad sets accordingly. 

How to minimise the impact of iOS 15 on your Email Marketing. 


What’s the deal with iOS 15 and email then? In a nutshell, from now on if anyone has accepted Apple’s new privacy settings in their Mail app, the emails are fired off to a proxy server. This means all images and a bunch of other important stuff, including tracking pixels, are loaded or fired. The upshot being, most emails will automatically be marked as open, regardless of whether or not they, y’know, actually are. So, that’s a pickle. You can kiss goodbye to using open rates as a measure of success for the foreseeable. But what can email marketers do to minimise the impact of iOS15, and if they can’t rely on open rates, what metrics should they be focusing on now?


1.    Reconsider the metrics you measure against
So, open rates are out. What next? Well, whereas previously you’d be designing and testing the success of emails based on how many users opened them, refining and optimising elements such as subject lines or the time & date of your email send, you now need to pay even more attention to the actual content of your email. A revolutionary thought, huh?

What we mean by this is that if you can’t tell who has opened your email, the best way to see if it’s performed well is by users engaging with the content contained within. Look at traffic and clicks through to your website, and which content or element of your email they have come from. 

And that’s where your testing efforts should fall now, reordering the different content elements of your email, experimenting with button placements and text etc. 
Ultimately, those actions and engagements are far more valuable to you as a brand anyway, so optimising for these is far from a bad thing.

2.    Check your segments and automation flows! 
All those segments you’d previously created based on engaged users and open rates? Yeaaaah. They’re no good any more. With open rates no longer reliable, you’ll need to revisit your current email segments and reconfigure these based on clicks, again focussing on activity and engagement within the email.

And of course the same goes for your automations. For example, any lapsed or unengaged automations would have previously typically been set up based on simply getting a lapsed user to open a new email. Now, the focus must be not on them opening, but on actively engaging on content within. Again, this is ultimately a good thing, as those more engaged users will of course be more valuable to you. But it does mean setting aside time to reconsider any automations you may currently have in place.

Hopefully all of that has armed you with enough knowledge to fight back against Apple in their (admittedly well-meaning) privacy crusade. It’s also important to consider other ways to ensure you’re still reaching your audience, whether that’s circumventing any tracking and privacy settings through the use of Influencer Marketing, or perhaps focussing on new platforms and different metrics; for example, TikTok’s video views and view-through-attribution metrics are currently unaffected by Apple’s updates.

And don’t forget, we’re always here to help too! 

Posted 21 September 2021 by Ben Waterhouse