The Death of the Open Rate: How Email Marketers Can Prepare for iOS 15
Email marketers at e-commerce brands use traditional reporting data such as open, click, and conversion rates to measure email campaign performance. But what happens when you suddenly take away one of those long-established data points?
Buckle up because we’re about to find out.
Apple’s announcement of its upcoming iOS 15 update, which is expected this fall, includes a feature that prevents companies from seeing whether subscribers opened their emails while using the Apple Mail app. Not everyone uses iOS or Apple's email app. But losing even partial data makes the rest unreliable for making informed marketing decisions across your email program.
It’s not all doom and gloom for marketers, even if 61.7 percent of all emails are opened in Apple Mail. I believe it’s quite the opposite. This is an opportunity for e-commerce brands to work on what really matters.
Here are six ways you can prepare your email marketing program for the death of the open rate:
1. Focus on effective subject lines.
While open rates won’t matter, getting subscribers to open still does. Test subject lines using emojis, special characters, length, emotion and tone. While subject lines can be subjective and situational, knowing which ones tend to work best is a good baseline to capture now.
2. Use your pre-header text to support the subject line.
Your pre-header text needs to convey value or else it’s pointless. Since subject lines are truncated on mobile phones, using this space to further entice an open is critical.
3. Make content and calls to action (CTA) a priority.
Clicks are the new opens. We want subscribers to click on emails, especially if we can’t track the open. Ensure your content and CTA match the subject line and pre-header text. Make it clear what the email is about and what the desired action is, and use product recommendations to provide more relevant opportunities to click. iOS or no iOS, an optimized email is better for everyone.
4. Reinforce your competitive differentiators.
Email subscribers open emails because they're interested in the brand and content. Therefore, make the open count. Always promote your value-adds, such as free and fast shipping, satisfaction guarantees, and customer-friendly return policies. Pointing out your differentiators provides reasons to click and purchase.
5. Use marketing automation to its full potential.
In 2020, automated emails accounted for 29 percent of all email orders, but less than 2 percent of email sends. They averaged 52 percent higher click rates than promotional campaigns, resulting in a 359 percent higher conversion rate. By utilizing relevant, behavior-based automation, e-commerce brands can increase short- and long-term engagement.
My five must-have workflows are:
- welcome series;
- browse abandonment;
- cart abandonment;
- post-purchase series; and
- lapsed purchaser series.
6. Adopt SMS now.
SMS is no longer a nice-to-have marketing channel — it’s a must-have one. Cell phones have effectively become an extension for many people, so chances are that your text message will be opened quicker than an email. Not only that, but text messages spur consumer action. In 2020, e-commerce brands saw SMS conversion rates increase more than 100 percent.
In addition to stand-alone campaigns, SMS messages can be included in the same automated workflows as email. By doing so, brands can strategically provide a secondary channel for capturing clicks. Therefore, start collecting mobile phone numbers to make automation even more impactful for driving sales.
Stay calm and focus on making marketing relevant. If you start optimizing your messages now so they're meaningful for your subscribers, you’ll be more than ready for this new era of driving sales, not opens.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the director of content at Omnisend, the all-in-one e-commerce marketing automation platform.
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Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the Director of Content at Omnisend. With 15-plus years of experience in email, mobile, and social media marketing, he’s helped over 100 DTC companies around the world, including numerous from the Internet Retailer Top 1000, maximize sales through their email marketing programs. Zakowicz is a frequent speaker at ecommerce events, often shares his ecommerce insights across various industry media outlets, has been retained as an ecommerce expert witness for trial, and is the host of Omnisend’s Cart Insiders Podcast.