What You Need to Know About Mail Privacy Protection (and Staying on Track for EOY Fundraising)

Picture it: You’ve just sent your first Giving Tuesday email and are anxiously refreshing results. Wow! Open rates are sky high, more than 40%. Seems like a good time to expand your segmentation with future messages and reach a bigger audience, right? Not so fast: Turns out the number of people who have clicked, out of those who have opened, is way off. Donations and revenue aren’t where they should be.

This is the new reality with Apple’s software updates that artificially inflate email open rates – making KPIs that were once the gold standard now pretty unreliable. At best, you’re not using the best data to maximize your chances of success during the biggest fundraising period of the year. At worst? You could unknowingly expand your email audience into a deliverability nightmare, caught by spam filters and torpedoing your entire EOY effort.

Put simply, Apple’s most recent IOS update comes with much stronger Mail Privacy Protection which blocks the tracking of pixels previously used to track email opens and engagement. With this update, emails will appear to have been opened when they haven’t. This change is not unique to Apple domains like @icloud.com, @me.com, and @mac.com. In fact, all email domains will be impacted if the user is simply reading their email through an Apple device. According to an analysis by Litmus, the biggest share of email opens – 38.9% – comes from Apple on iPhone. Since marketers can’t segment by device type, open data will largely be obscured, rendering open rates unreliable when segmenting email sends. For example, your dynamic list of 30-day openers may show 100,000 names but in reality be much lower, posing severe threats to deliverability.

With weeks until Giving Tuesday, we’re making a number of recommendations to our partners – and updating products – to ensure you can overcome these challenges and raise more money for your cause:

  • Save static lists. This is an easy and immediate first step that all nonprofits should take: Query and save your go-to audiences as static groups in your CRM. While this isn’t a fail-proof solution, creating these cohorts now – before the year-end fundraising period and before the major changes from Apple are felt – is crucial.
  • Build up your clickers. As open rates become less and less of a reliable metric, it will be important for marketers to transition to click rates to A.) Gauge whether email engagement is strong, and B.) Utilize clicker recency screens to build out segmentation and protect deliverability. We recommend building Q4 content calendars with a balanced cadence of engagement emails that encourage audiences to take action and click. These should have less content in the email itself and more on landing pages. Think about building multi-touch experiences, such as this Fill A Lunchbox campaign we created with our partners at Save the Children!
  • Re-establish KPIs. Less of a reliance on open rates means KPIs need to change, and it’s crucial to benchmark these ahead of year-end so you have a monitoring system well established and in place for the fundraising push in November and December.

And at MissionWired, we’re going further to help our partners send to the biggest audience they can without sacrificing deliverability. Our solution? It’s called Curate, a brand-new product that uses cutting-edge modeling to allow organizations to maximize opens, engagement and revenue online – without harming deliverability.

Here’s how it works: We use data in our digital co-op’s data lake to enhance your house file with information on which email addresses on your existing list are genuinely active and safe to mail. That means we can use co-op data to tell you how many of the names on your email list are opening and clicking elsewhere, providing your organization confidence in who to mail during big moments.

The impacts from Apple’s new policy are being felt as soon as, well, right now. Stepping back from open rates is a digital marketing sea change, but as we all know well, ours is a space that demands constant adaptation. There’s no reason your organization can’t have a successful year-end giving period – or even year-over-year online growth – so long as you take active steps, here and now, to navigate the changing landscape.

To learn more about Curate and how it can build your nonprofit the most effective segmentation strategy at year-end, get in touch at [email protected].

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