Email metrics for all device opens, including those with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection enabled

Accurate open, read, and engagement rates while honoring employee privacy.

Mail privacy protection on

How PoliteMail Accurately Measures All Devices

PoliteMail is currently offering software configuration updates which compensate for Apple’s proxy opens, and we offer versions featuring new measurement technologies which rely on authentication data instead of image requests in order to maintain accurate email metrics for any iOS and MacOS recipients. Proxy opens are listed for all sent measured messages.

Simply ask your account manager for the new configuration settings or request a software update.

Are you seeing a sudden increase in your email open rates?  

Before you claim an engagement victory due to a sudden dramatic improvement in your email open rates, you will want to take a look behind the curtain. 

On September 20th, 2021, Apple made a big privacy change to their iOS 15 email app with the introduction of Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), and it directly impacts the quality of your email metrics and marketing campaign data. 

The good news is that your open rates are going to go up. The bad news is that you can’t trust these numbers. 

A behind-the-scenes look at why your open rates are suddenly rising 

In short, MPP allows users of Apple’s Mail app to hide if and when they open email messages in order to provide more privacy, since most sales, marketing and corporate emails these days include open and click tracking.

To provide this email privacy protection feature, Apple will automatically download all email images in the background using a proxy (via their own IP address, not yours), which effectively disguises your open data.

These proxy downloads will make every email appear to be “opened” whether the recipient ever really opens it or not.

So, if you send to a recipient that has their email address (company or personal) mapped to the Apple Mail app, then they will appear to “open” it, even if they never actually check their company email on their iPhone.

On the Mac OS desktop, the opposite effect will occur, because Apple will never download images by default, so those users will never register as having opened the email (unless, of course, they also have iPhone Mail configured-which they likely do as Apple customers). 

The impact on communications measurement

The first and most obvious impact is that your open rates are going to be skewed and the data much less reliable, primarily due to Apple’s market share. According to sources, in the U.S., iOS commands between 52–60% market share, with Android between 40–47%. 

In addition, the value of A/B tests and email open rate metrics are worthless, since all emails to iOS Mail users will be marked as opened regardless of actual behavior. 

Expect false positive increases of 40% for email marketing and 15% for corporate communications

The average email open rate for email marketing tools such as MailChimp, ConstantContact and HubSpot is 20%, and per the PoliteMail benchmark the average corporate communications open rate is 70%. So, if half your audience uses an iPhone, then expect to see a 40% false increase in marketing opens and a 15% false increase in corporate opens. 

This is why it is now more vital than ever to understand how your email analytics vendor measures email open rates and what value they place on data accuracy. 

Next steps for communications teams 

Get a handle on how much of your workforce uses Apple’s Mail app. 

Check your current email analytics and web analytics to determine the device types and percentages of your audience who use Apple iPhones, which will help you quantify the potential impact. 

Make sure your email content motivates people to click/take action. 

Apple MPP will not impact click data, so you can still measure clicks. You will want to investigate what denominator your analytics tool uses to calculate a click rate, as if it’s based on opens, you can expect a drastic decline in the rate due to the larger denominator number. 

PoliteMail’s best practices (from data of over 1.5 billion corporate emails sent to over 8 million employees) indicate the highest click rates are achieved when fewer than 6 links are sent in any one email, with the very highest being one URL. We found that emails with one CTA have a higher click rate than others. 

Update your tools and ask vendors how they are addressing the data fidelity issue. 

Some email analytics vendors, like PoliteMail, are already offering software updates that compensate for Apple’s proxy opens by effectively filtering those out, as well as offering new measurement technologies which rely on authentication data instead of image requests in order to maintain accurate email metrics. 

Device Popularity Charts

PoliteMail is compatible with your Microsoft infrastructure.

PoliteMail Compatible Microsoft Products

Home = Apple iOS update