Feature Spotlight

iOS 15’s Impact on Your Advocacy & PAC Email Strategy

Those of us in the advocacy & PAC space know that change is a constant. Through the years, we’ve looked to reach out to our stakeholders in any number of ways, from handwritten letters to faxes, phone calls to email, text messages to social media. As an advocate’s habits and technology usage trends in a specific direction, we as an industry recognize the change and adapt.

The latest change from Apple looks to be a watershed moment in the email space, forever altering how we track engagement with our stakeholders over email.

Earlier this summer, Apple announced new privacy rules that are set to roll out to customers this fall starting with the release of iOS 15 & iPadOS. Among other changes, the latest versions of both systems will mean that advocacy and PAC efforts will no longer be able to track whether subscribers open their email messages.

While for now this move only applies to those using the Apple Mail app, the move has implications for the entire industry. More to the point, if we’re unable to track opens from a large platform, it makes all open data unreliable. This prevents us from making informed decisions about who is interacting with your message.

As seen elsewhere, Apple’s decision means only one thing – tracking opens as a metric is dead.

Email is a cornerstone to advocacy and PAC efforts, providing a quick, easy and reliable way to connect with your audience. This fact won’t change. What will change is the strategy behind your email program and the metrics you’ll be reporting on in the future.

SparkInfluence is in a unique position to respond quickly to changes in the industry and the needs of those in the advocacy & PAC space. While we’re sad to see our custom Effective Open Rate metric go by the wayside, we’re already preparing new reports, searches and views to give you the information you need to continue to educate, empower and engage with your advocates.

Moving forward, we expect Google, Outlook & Yahoo to follow Apple’s lead in the coming weeks / months. (Some evidence shows that the GMail iPhone app is already prefetching images) That said, this announcement paves the way for us to continue to take the lead in helping you better understand how your advocates are interacting with your messaging and effort.

After all, all politics is local, and advocacy and PAC work has always been about action, not opens.

Below is a quick breakdown with additional resources on the impending changes.

What’s Changing?

  • Pre-fetching Images:  The Apple Mail app will begin pre-fetching images & pixels, regardless of whether people ever manually open the email. This means that whether your advocate uses Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, or their work email – as long as it’s hooked up to the Apple Mail app, all tracking pixels will be preloaded into their system whether they’ve opened your message or not. One important note: emails that land in a user’s spam folder will NOT be pre-fetched, and therefore will not register an automatic open.
  • Potential for Pre-fetching Links:  Beyond pre-fetching images, some organizations have implemented additional security that may also pre-fetch links in emails. This may artificially inflate clicks, all while the individual themselves may not have manually opened or clicked through your email.

Who’s Impacted?

  • Everyone: Whether you send email through SparkInfluence or another platform, your open rates will be affected by this new update.

What Do I Need to Do?

  • Reset Expectations:  We’re encouraging clients to rethink how they both report & determine meaningful engagement with their outbound email. This may mean having a talk with leadership to prepare them for the potential skew in stats moving forward.
  • Segment, Segment, Segment:  We encourage concentric sending. Start sending emails to smaller lists of active subscribers based on clicks and conversions rather than opens.
  • Focus on Copy: Renew your focus on your email copy. Keep calls to action clear and succinct. Make the ask. Keep the message relevant, engaging, to the point, and useful, and that should translate to a higher click-through rate.
  • Promote Preference Center: Be sure your stakeholders know that they can update what types of messages they receive from you. (See Email Categories)

Further Reading:

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