How email marketers everywhere can learn from privacy success in the UK and EU

US marketers can turn Mail Privacy Protection into a win, according to Validity’s Guy Hanson.

Marketers who were fretting when Apple announced Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) last year might have been missing the opportunity brought on by the new policy to build more trust with customers, and ultimately score a higher ROI.

Email performance in the U.K. and EU, where the effects of GDPR were more concentrated and were enacted prior to California CCPA, suggest a brighter future, according to Guy Hanson, Vice President of Customer Engagement at data and email solutions provider Validity.

Positive trends for email performance

Hanson points to a recent email analytics study announced by email optimization company Litmus that showed that ROI for U.K. & EU companies was up to 46:1, compared with 34:1 for U.S. marketers.

A compilation of performance stats that Smart Insights updated for 2022 show European marketers outperforming North America in key metrics. Open rates in Europe were at 21.75%, which was higher than North America, at 18.13%. Average click-through rates were also higher in Europe – 2.64% against, in the U.S., 2.41%.

Navigating unsubscribes and other pain points after MPP

Any time new regulations, or company policies like Apple’s MPP, take effect there is an adjustment period where marketers update their strategies and consumers also might respond to the change with their own behavior or voice their concerns.

When Validity looked at the “opens” generated by the pixel fires from Apple’s proxy, the open rate was 32%. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but that’s significantly higher than the EU and North American average open rates in the Smart Insights study.

Post-MPP there was also a decrease in email unsubscribes – one third below the 12-month benchmark of 0.09%.

How email marketers everywhere can learn from privacy success in the UK and EU

Unsubscribe drop-off after MPP. Image: Validity

This could be linked to another new Apple feature, Hide My Email, according to Hanson. This feature allows users to generate a unique, random email address to use gated apps and websites, and therefore reduces the flow of unwanted or excessive emails. Consumers are essentially taking advantage of the intent of Apple’s policies by curating and segmenting the emails they want to receive.

According to the Smart Insights study, unsubscribe rates were higher in Europe than North America – 0.15% in Europe versus 0.10% in the U.S.

But while unsubscribes are down after MPP, complaints are up. One Validity client said that 97% of their increase in complaints came from users of the iOS Mail app.

Listen to customers and look past open rates

A lot of marketers were understandably concerned that with Apple’s MPP they wouldn’t be able to measure open rates for email campaigns like in the old days.

“With the ‘pixelgeddon,’ it meant a deep impact on the world of email marketing, but also an opportunity,” said Hanson. “Some insights about customer behavior were traditionally inferred by email opens. But you can use other more reliable metrics, like click-throughs instead of open rates.”

Hanson also suggested that marketers look to email preferences, and offer more of them to customers. This way, marketers will gain more insights from customers about the kinds of emails they do want to receive.

Also, an effective complement to email campaigns in the MPP era is social media listening and analytics. Hanson suggests that marketers analyze consumer response to email-specific keywords on their social channels. If there’s positive buzz about a message in a specific email campaign, this is a good sign that the emails were a hit.

“It’s not necessarily a bad thing for marketers to be responsible,” Hanson said. “If marketers do email marketing properly, they may wind up with better performing campaigns.”

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.