Did we just witness the DEATH of email marketing?

With the new opt-out privacy feature for the Mail app that iOS 15 is incorporating, it can feel that way. I get it. 

But, I’m here to tell you that this update is NOT the beginning of the end for email marketing. To be honest, thinking that, “Gone are the days of having effective email marketing!” is crap. It’s not true!

Tune in to this episode of The Not For Lazy Marketers Podcast where I’m breaking down ways that you can combat these roadblocks.

  • Adjusting your success metrics
  • Sharing our list cleaning strategy
  • Shifting your sending strategy
  • Expanding your assets beyond just an email list

Keeping up with these updates can be tricky, but it is still possible to have effective email marketing! I’m here to keep you in the loop, help you prepare, and help you combat the changes that you’re bound to experience. 

If this episode gave you insight on how to conquer this iOS 15 update, and inspired you to make your email marketing better than ever, send me a DM on Instagram (@emilyhirsh) and tell me about it!

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READ THE EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Emily Hirsh:

Hello, everybody. I hope you guys are doing amazing. Having an amazing week going into the holidays soon. Are you preparing for your Black Friday or whatever promotion you’re going to do? I feel like some people take their foot off the gas at the end of the year. And I believe in doing the opposite, I think there’s a lot of opportunity at the end of the year and you can still make sales. I’ve had people ask me like, “should I even run ads because costs go up?” And I just think that there’s always going to be something, there’s always going to be a reason why you should wait until next year, wait until next month, make it a challenge to make these amazing months for you both in sales and in growth, of course, take time off, take time to be with your family, and recover and recoup.

I think you can do both. You can have both, you can have it all. So that’s my little pep talk for you guys. I want to talk today about iOS 15 updates. I think it would be irresponsible for me not to mention these. I’m not an expert email marketer, necessarily, but we have been preparing for iOS 15 and doing some research on our team about what it means and how to prepare because we are supporting, especially our partners, our highest level clients with this in order to be prepared. So iOS 15 has rolled out. They rolled out the update for all the phones. However, they haven’t fully rolled out and, as usual, they’re not super great with their communication around the actual email privacy component that they’re rolling out. So if you’re not familiar, iOS 15 update is going to impact your emails.

What it’s going to do is give users basically the option to opt out of being tracked if they’re using the mail app on their phones. So like, the iMail, whatever it’s called, mail app envelope icon. If they check their email that way on their phone, they’re going to be offered the option to opt out of being tracked. And I believe they’ve started to roll it out. I haven’t seen it. I have had a lot of people say they haven’t seen it yet, but that’s usually how they do things, is it starts to roll out. And I read that 60% of people use the email app. It’s kind of the stats. I know I personally don’t even have email on my phone, I know a lot of people use the Gmail app. So if somebody uses that, this doesn’t impact them. It’s only if they actually use the mail app and it’s going to give them the option to not be tracked, which means you won’t get the data back from the open rate of your email, and the data that’s coming out right now is that 60% of users have the mail app.

I’m calling it iMail app. I’m pretty sure it’s called “Mail” app, and that 90% of people being offered to opt out of the tracking are taking that, which is expected. Most people, if they’re being asked, “do you want to be tracked?” are going to say no. Same with Facebook and Instagram, but the majority of people are saying that. So what does this mean? What does this mean for your email marketing, for your email open rates, and how do you prepare for it? So I think that the biggest thing that’s being talked about and is factual, is you’re going to lose the data on your open rates. When people opt out of being tracked, using the mail app, if they do use the mail app, and they say, “no, I don’t want to be tracked.” now, you’re not getting that data sent back to your CRM that tells you the open rate. As far as we can understand right now, you will still receive the click rate data.

Now, I hesitate sometimes when I create this content because it does change. A lot of stuff changed with the Facebook ad roll out of iOS 14, so I will update that. But as far as I can understand, and from the research I’ve done thus far, and what the CRM softwares are saying, is that you’re going to lose the open rate data, but you’re going to maintain the click rate data because that’s actually happening in the email is a link that’s being clicked. So that means you’re going to have to adjust your success metric around your emails to the click rate, because you’re going to not have an accurate open rate. And you might start to see that, you know, in the coming weeks to months, your open rate goes from being, let’s say it’s 20% now, down to like 12%.

And you’re like, “oh my gosh, do my emails suck? Why is my open rate way down?” And that’s because probably people are opting out of the tracking. Not that your email rate is suddenly plummeting in half the amount, but the stop to watch is your click rate. And does that stay consistent and measuring that for success. You really want to be at a one to 3% click through rate in your emails. And so that’s something you should already be watching, but you might have to shift your perspective and the way that you’re looking at your stats to be around that, versus the open rate. So that’s the first thing, is moving into this update. You’re going to have to shift the stat that you look at from open rate to click rate. The second piece that a lot of CRM softwares are recommending and experts in this space is that you keep your list clean because the more you keep your list clean, cause you’re not going to have the data around open rates, at least not accurate.

So you won’t be able to see if all of a sudden your open rate dropped down because your list is super unengaged. And this is a good practice, regardless. Most CRM softwares have an ability to kind of group all of your contacts who are inactive. So, who has not opened an email, or clicked on an email, in X amount of time. You can get a list of those contacts and put them through a re-engagement series, which basically says like, “Hey, you haven’t opened our emails in a while. Here’s the type of content I’m going to show you. Do you still want to be on my list?” type of message and vibe. And if they open it, or they click on it, then they get put back into the active contact. Otherwise, you take them off your list, or for us in Ontraport, what we do is we mark them as transactional only, which means they’re not on our main list anymore, but they still are there.

If they end up buying something or they re-opt in, they get switched back from transactional only. But, it allows us to get an accurate number of who are active clients. Because our customers, I mean, sorry, leads, you want to only be emailing your active and engaged leads. You don’t want people on there just for the number if they’re never going to open your emails, and that’s going to really impact your open rate and click rate, which yes, your open rates are going to be impacted and go down. But what you can do is keep your list clean, which also helps with your scoring and your overall rating with the email servers. So for example, Gmail, I don’t know exactly how their algorithms work and their servers work, but I definitely know the more clean and engaged that we keep our list, the better we don’t land in the promo tab, we don’t land in spam.

We just keep kind of like a good score, which of course they don’t share their algorithm for that. But, the better you have engagement, and your emails, they’re going to deem you as a quality email to be showing users and therefore, not put you in the promo tab, or even worse in spam. So keeping your list clean, what I would suggest doing, is setting up an automated process where you automatically, and every CRM software is different, so I would ask your provider that you use, “can you do this?” I know Ontraport can do this. Infusionsoft can do this, Active Campaign can do this, where automatically, if a contact goes 90 days or more without having any engagement, they don’t open an email, they don’t click on an email, they automatically go into your re-engagement campaign. 

And that means, once they’re past 90 days, they haven’t had any engagement, they get put in a re-engagement campaign, which has a list of emails that they go through to try and get them to re-engage, to get them to open an email, click on an email, or push them to unsubscribe if they don’t want to be subscribed. And then, if they still don’t engage, they get either removed from your list, or marked as transactional only. And you stop emailing them. That also is going to save you money, usually, because most providers will charge you based on how many emails you send. Ontraport charges us on how many emails we send. So, if I’m sending a bunch of emails to inactive contacts and people who aren’t opening my emails, I’m basically wasting money. I try to always keep my list clean. And this is the recommendation going into iOS 15, that you also keep your list clean.

The next piece is emailing. This really is a strategy, we’ve been doing this for months, and this was actually recommended by Ontraport. But one thing that will keep your ratings good is only email your active list. So like I’m talking about, you’re able to pull together a list of people who are active, let’s say in the last 30 days, or the last 60 days, or the last 90 days. So what we do is we email our entire list, the whole database, inactive and active, complete list, not the transactional only people who have been through the re-engagement series and not re-engaged, but all of our whole list, every three emails. And then those other emails, we only email people who have been active in the last 60 days. So, let’s say I send three emails in a week. My first email, I’m going to email to the people who the contacts have been active in the last 60 days, meaning they’ve opened an email, they’ve clicked on an email, they’ve done something in the last 60 days.

And then the second one, I’m going to do the same thing. And then the third one, I emailed to my entire list. What you’ll see is that the third email obviously has lower stats because you’re emailing it to more people, so your open rate will be lower. And the first two emails will have much higher stats, that helps your score. So, you will be losing the stats in terms of open rate, but it still is going to help your score to have people engaging in your emails. By keeping a strategy where you’re only emailing your active list is going to help with that score and as a good best practice that I would carry on, but start doing if you’re not doing it right now with iOS 15. So those are the big pieces, the biggest one being you’re going to have to switch your success metric from open rate to click through rate.

The other thing I’ll say, is that with all of these changes starting with iOS 14, going to iOS 15, this is why I’ve claimed and said many times it’s truly a new era, because really we’re moving towards this direction where this is impacting every platform, every marketing tool. And it’s just going to continue in this direction. And that doesn’t mean we’re all doomed, and you can’t have successful marketing. It means at the end of the day, regardless of what data and tracking you lose, which is a bummer, we like those metrics to tell us how we’re doing, regardless of that, valuable engaging content will always win. So, content that is going to create an experience, that’s going to engage your user or your lead, that’s going to provide value in your email, or provide value throughout your customer journey or with your ad, will still be successful.

Marketing still works. You might lose some of these metrics, or it might be harder for you to understand it, and know what’s working, you might lose data on your users. You will lose data on those users, in your audience, but good marketing that stems from that really solid connection with your audience, will always work and still works. And so, this is just a reason to double down on that and ask yourself, “how can I write better emails? How can I write more engaging, valuable emails to my list?” So that’s a big picture thing. And then the other thing I’ll say is, you still have the data and you still have the value of actually having the email leads, having the name, having the email, you can send them emails, it’s not going to impact deliverability. It’s just impacting the tracking.

That is still an asset for your business. And who tells you like, “oh, well, email marketing is dead because of iOS 15 updates.” That’s crap. It’s not true. You’re still able to send emails, and if you send valuable emails that people want to open and want to engage with, that will continue to be a successful component of your marketing strategy, and email addresses and contacts are always going to be one of the most solid assets that you can get for your business. Now that’s not to say that I don’t recommend branching out, maybe incorporating text messages, or direct messages on social media. Those are all great strategies to weave into your marketing, but it’s not at all enough to say, “oh, well, email marketing is dead with this update.” That’s like saying, oh, Facebook ads are dead because of iOS 14, which y’all know I was not for that.

So, email marketing is still effective. You’re still going to be able to deliver your emails. You’re just going to lose some of that data. And that’s unfortunate. We have to shift the way that we measure success, we need to keep our lists clean, we need to email our active list, we need to, at the end of the day, send the most valuable content possible because that will continue to get the best response, that’ll continue to allow you to be successful no matter what. The other thing about email addresses is they are very powerful, still being uploaded to Facebook, to use for audiences or look alike audiences. And with the loss of pixel data because of iOS 14 updates, email addresses became even more valuable because you’re able to use those in their solid, you don’t lose the data because they’re not reliant on a pixel.

Still build your email list, still put time and attention into this, still email your list regularly, adjust the way that you’re viewing your metrics and your success potentially with it, and keep that list clean. That’s the update on how to prepare for iOS 15, I will as always keep you guys in the loop. These are the things we’ve talked about as a team, what we are sharing with our clients, and going into the next few months/weeks, who knows, just be prepared for your open rate stat to drop down and don’t think, “oh my gosh, I’m now put in spam or something.” It’s probably because users are starting to opt out of being tracked and you’ll have to adjust the way you measure the success with your emails. All right, you guys, I hope you found this helpful. Thanks so much for tuning in and I’ll talk to you next time.

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