Getting Ready for Apple’s New Mail Privacy Features

It’s that time of year again: cooler weather, back-to-school, and big new updates to iOS and macOS. This year, Apple is introducing a feature for its email apps that has the email marketing world talking. You may have heard about it already: Mail Privacy Protection. In this blog post, we’ll learn what this feature is, why it matters, and how you can continue to make sure that your emails get great results.

What is Mail Privacy Protection?

Mail Privacy Protection is the name of a feature that comes built-in to Apple’s Mail app on iOS 15 and macOS 12. The purpose of this feature is to protect the privacy of the inbox by making sure that email senders are unable to track if and when someone opens their email.

Users are prompted to turn on Mail Privacy Protection after upgrading to iOS 15

How Does Mail Privacy Protection Work?

Mail Privacy Protection seeks to disrupt how senders track email opens. Email tracking is traditionally done by embedding an invisible image called a “tracking pixel” into the body of an email. When the recipient opens the email, their email app requests and downloads this invisible image. By monitoring these requests, the sender can track when the recipient opens the email, which email app the recipient is using, and the geographic location of the recipient (based on IP address). Mail Privacy Protection disrupts this approach by always downloading all the images in an email (including the tracking pixel), even if the recipient never opens the email at all. In addition, images are downloaded via a proxy server that hides the actual geographic location of the recipient (although, in most cases, the proxy server is in the same general vicinity as the recipient). The end result is that the sender cannot be sure if the email was actually opened and read by the recipient, or if it was simply downloaded in the background by the Mail Privacy Protection feature.

Click tracking is not affected by Mail Privacy Protection and continues to work as before.

Why Does This Matter?

Mail Privacy Protection reduces the reliability of the “open rate” number in your email campaign report, but the impact will vary depending on how many of your subscribers end up using this feature. In order to have a significant impact on your open rate, a large number of your subscribers need to be using Apple’s Mail app, need to have updated to the latest version of iOS or macOS, and need to have opted-in to this feature (which we expect most people to do). According to Litmus, approximately 50% of emails are read using Apple Mail, so as people upgrade their software over time, we expect most email campaigns to be affected to some degree.

The introduction of Mail Privacy Protection gives marketers an opportunity to rethink how they evaluate the performance of their email campaigns. The open rate has traditionally been an important metric used to gauge the quality of a subject line, how engaged subscribers are, or the impact of a campaign. However, as that signal becomes less reliable, email marketers can look to other indicators like click rates, conversion rates, list growth vs. unsubscribes, etc. to evaluate performance. We discuss this further down below.

Direct Mail Works With Mail Privacy Protection

Direct Mail is ready for the changes brought on by Mail Privacy Protection. You may notice a couple of changes in the “Reports” tab in Direct Mail:

  1. In most cases, Direct Mail is able to detect if an “email open” event is coming from a device with Mail Privacy Protection enabled. This does not mean that Direct Mail can determine if an open is “authentic” (i.e. the user actually opened your email), but simply that the recipient’s email app has the privacy feature enabled. Look for the email client labeled “Apple Device (Mail Privacy Protection)” in the “Summary” and “Recipients” sections of your campaign report.
  2. In the “Summary” section of your campaign report, Direct Mail reports an estimated actual open rate, given as a range. This estimate will only appear if there are enough recipients using Mail Privacy Protection to have a material impact on the open rate (greater than or equal to a 1% difference). This same estimate is also shown in the Stamps app, and in the web-based campaign reports.
  3. When determining open rate, Direct Mail considers all of the “email open” events for a given recipient. For example, if a recipient opens your email twice, once from a device using Mail Privacy Protection and once from a device without, Direct Mail will know that the recipient did actually open the email and will factor that information into the estimate.

How You Can Prepare For Mail Privacy Protection

First and foremost, no need to worry. Email marketing remains the most effective form of marketing and one of the best performing sales channels, even as technology and the privacy landscape continues to evolve. We are here to help you understand and respond to these changes as they come. Here are some suggestions on how you can adapt as your subscribers adopt Mail Privacy Protection:

  1. Remember that “click rate” accuracy is not affected by these changes, and continues to be a very high quality signal of how engaged your subscribers are with your content. Consider including more “clickable” content (i.e. links and buttons) in your emails that entices your subscribers to click. Remember that you can turn any image into a link by clicking on it and entering a URL.
  2. Remember that the goal has never been to get the highest open rate, but rather to drive downstream conversions (i.e. sales, sign-ups, leads, etc.). Consider looking to other metrics to evaluate campaign performance:
    • Number of clicks
    • Number of forwards or social media shares. These appear on your campaign report as clicks on the links titled [forward to a friend url], [twitter share url], etc.
    • Number of goal conversions on your website. You can use Direct Mail’s integration with Google Analytics to link up conversions on your website with the email campaign that brought them there.
    • Number of unsubscribes (the lower the better 😀)
  3. A/B testing based on open rates may no longer be a good idea, but continue to strive for quality subject lines (here are some best practices) and content. You can also use Direct Mail’s Preview Text feature to stand out in the inbox. In the past, many privacy-conscious users turned off all email image loading, missing out on the great visual content in your emails. The introduction of Mail Privacy Protection means that many of these users will now turn on image loading and engage more with your emails.
  4. The campaign report and the subscriber “Get Info” window both show times and dates for each email open. Remember that opens from “Apple Device (Mail Privacy Protection)” may not, in fact, be authentic opens, and the accompanying dates and times are simply when the tracking pixel image was requested.
  5. Some email marketers like to segment their mailing list based on the open rate, as a proxy for how “engaged” the subscribers are. This may no longer be the best idea. Instead, consider segmenting based on click rate or some other custom criteria that you import into Direct Mail. You can use our Zapier integration or API to keep your mailing lists up-to-date with data from other sources (like e-commerce stores, spreadsheets, or databases).
  6. If you are running autoresponders that are triggered by email opens, you should consider changing them to be triggered by a click, or triggered on a time delay. In Direct Mail, once an autoresponder is created, you cannot change the trigger type, so you’ll need to create a new autoresponder in its place.
  7. Direct Mail relies on the recipient’s IP address to determine geographic location. While Mail Privacy Protection does hide the recipient’s actual IP address, the proxy IP address is typically in the same general location (i.e. same city, or at least same country and time zone). As a result, Direct Mail is still able to determine the approximate general location of the recipient.

We’re Here For You!

We are committed to helping you run successful email marketing campaigns and to growing your business. If you have any questions about Mail Privacy Protection, or email marketing best practices, please don’t hesitate to contact our support team. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list, too, and get notified about great new features rolling out soon to boost newsletter engagement and interactivity!

Direct Mail Now Available for Apple Silicon

We’re happy to announce the release of the latest and greatest update to Direct Mail, version 5.9, available to all users today. This release includes a number of improvements, including full support for Apple’s latest line of Macs powered by the “M1” Apple Silicon chips. Direct Mail’s support for Apple Silicon means you can expect noticeably faster performance and longer battery life as you create, send, and track your email marketing campaigns.

How to Upgrade

This latest update is being made available to all customers, including Mac App Store customers, and will be automatically installed over the next few days, or the next time you open Direct Mail. You can also upgrade manually by choosing “Direct Mail > Check for Software Update” from the menu bar at the top of your screen.

Looking Forward to Apple Silicon and Big Sur

We love the Mac! From the very first version 18 years ago up until today, Direct Mail has always been designed as a Mac-first, Mac-only app. This focus allows us to create a seamless experience for our users that takes advantage of the power, productivity, and unique technology of macOS, instead of a lowest-common-denominator experience you might get with a cross-platform or web app. Today, we look forward to the next generation of great Macs, and what it means for Direct Mail.

Apple Silicon

Apple today announced brand new Macs that feature a custom processor that is incredibly fast and energy efficient: the M1. Part of the reason the M1 is so impressive is that it uses a chip architecture different than the Intel architecture that’s been used in generations past. This change means that app developers have some work to do to make their apps really fly on these new Macs, but the good news is that we’re on it! The current version of Direct Mail already runs great on the M1 chip (we’ve been testing it out for several months now), and we’ll be shipping an update soon that turns the speed and efficiency up to 11. We think you are going to love the extra battery life and time saved with these new improvements.

Big Sur

Along with the new Macs, Apple also introduced the latest update to macOS, named “Big Sur”. You’ll notice right away that the look and feel of Big Sur has been refreshed to be more consistent with iOS, iPadOS, and other Apple platforms. We’ve been running Big Sur for months and are happy to report that the current version of Direct Mail looks and runs great. We also look forward to sharing more details with you soon about the next big update to Direct Mail and how it will take advantage of Big Sur’s new features. As a reminder, updates to Direct Mail are always free for all our customers.

When the very first version of Direct Mail was released back in 2002, the best Macs were running on PowerPC architecture and “Mac OS X” 10.2 Jaguar. Over the years, Direct Mail has kept pace, making the transition to Intel and now Apple Silicon, as well as integrating advances from over 14 new versions of macOS. Along the way, our users have always benefited from our Mac-first, Mac-only focus, unlocking their productivity and creativity. We think this is just the beginning and look forward to sharing more with you soon!

What’s New in Direct Mail 5.7.2

Our latest update to Direct Mail includes expanded authentication options for customers sending email via their own company servers, as well as a number of bug fixes for all users, especially those running the latest version of macOS.

Expanded authentication options

Some of our customers use Direct Mail to send internal communications, or other email that needs to be sent via their company servers (as opposed to being sent via our built-in e3 Delivery Service). In the past, these customers would input their server and authentication details (including usernames and passwords) directly into Direct Mail. However, some companies are now opting for newer, more secure, forms of authentication that do not require the user to enter their password into a third-party application. This latest update to Direct Mail supports these modern authentication methods for Google G Suite, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft Office 365 accounts.

Bug fixes and additional improvements

This latest update also includes a number of fixes for user interface issues that were affecting users running macOS 10.15 Catalina, as well as more general improvements.

If you use Direct Mail alongside the Daylite app (a popular customer relationship management app for the Mac), you may be interested in trying out our preliminary support for syncing bounce information back to Daylite. Please contact our customer support for details.

How to update

If you downloaded Direct Mail from our website, then your copy of Direct Mail is most likely already up-to-date (you can choose “Direct Mail > Check for Software Update” from the menu bar at the top of your screen to be sure). If you downloaded Direct Mail from the Mac App Store, then your copy of Direct Mail should update automatically update within a few days.

What’s New in Direct Mail 5.7

Our latest update to Direct Mail, version 5.7, is now available, and it includes some great new improvements that we’re excited to share with you. This release features several new template designs, full support for Apple’s forthcoming macOS 10.15 Catalina, faster cloud performance, improved undo and redo support, and new enterprise options.

New template designs

Direct Mail 5.7 introduces several new templates designs that work great for a variety of occasions. As we approach the holiday season, you may want to take a look the “Glimmer”, “Merry Pines”, and “Slopes” templates for inspiration. The new “Quattro” and “Silicon” templates are great for showing off new products and services to your fan base. You can find these new templates by opening Direct Mail and clicking the “Choose Template” button (in the Messages tab).

Ready for macOS 10.15 Catalina

Direct Mail is fully compatible with the new version of macOS coming out later this month. We recommend updating Direct Mail (and making sure you have a good backup of all your files) before you begin the macOS update process.

Faster cloud syncing

Direct Mail’s built-in cloud sync feature lets you access your data from any device, as well as collaboratively edit your messages, mailing lists, and more. In this month’s update, we are taking advantage of some network routing improvements to bring you even faster uploads and downloads, especially for our customers located outside of the United States. You should notice that changes sync across your devices a bit faster now. Of course, results may vary depending on your connection to the internet.

Improved undo and redo

You may have noticed that, in the past, it was possible to find yourself in a state where Direct Mail was no longer able to correctly undo or redo some edits you had made to your message—which could be a very frustrating experience. In this update, we have improved our undo and redo support so that you will always be able to edit with confidence, knowing the changes you make can be undone or re-done at any time.

Enterprise-level features

Direct Mail 5.7 introduces a number of new features designed to meet the needs of our customers in larger companies, including:

  • Support for single sign-on (SSO). Sign in to your Direct Mail account using your company’s existing SSO provider, instead of using a separate email and password.
  • Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 integration. Send emails using your company’s existing Exchange or Office 365 infrastructure. Import contacts from your company’s distribution groups.
  • G Suite integration. Send email using your company’s existing G Suite account.
  • Template sharing. Create and share templates via the cloud with everyone in your organization.
  • Policy enforcement. Manage settings that apply to all users in your organization (e.g. disabling unsubscribe links).

Please get in touch with our support team if you are interested in more information or a demo.

How to update

Direct Mail 5.7 is a free update for all users. For most users, the update will be downloaded and installed automatically the next time you open Direct Mail. If you want, you can update immediately by choosing “Direct Mail > Check for Software Update” from the menu bar at the top of your screen.

Customers who downloaded Direct Mail from the Mac App Store will need just a bit more patience, as we wait for Apple to approve and distribute the update.

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