Can Internet Devices Skew Your Email Opens?

In 2013 Google, with the introduction of their ground-breaking Gmail Tabs, said this is the answer to organization and inbox productivity for all Gmail users: But they never considered the email marketers need to count email opens.  This change, google believes, allows Gmail users to focus on the “things that really matter and cut down on email search time.”

google inboxThis new idea seemed great to everyone except email marketers. Once Gmail Tabs were in place, as if overnight, Gmail user engagement declined, as delivered email was arriving to a tab that email recipients apparently didn’t use or see.  Gmail users considered their new “inbox” a tab call Primary; and few ventured to other tabs beyond that.  Consequently marketing newsletters were not opened or read, as Gmail automatically placed these emails under the Promotion tab, not the new “inbox”, Primary tab.   

With a little education and experience, Gmail users became familiar with the tab system and newsletters once again were being read. 

Today there are still inbox issues with Gmail tabbing, but not nearly as bad as it was 8 or 9 years ago.

And then there was Yahoo, who in the year 2014 told ISPs not to accept any mail sending with a FROM: address, unless the email originates from a Yahoo server. That was the cause of more chaos for the email marketer and ESP’s (Email Service Providers) who offered email marketing services and those that offered Email Discussion List services.  Eventually this issue was resolved as more email tools were developed.

Yahoo and Google are only two examples of an ISP’s attempt to give their email users the best experience possible, email delivered to the customer’s inbox without SPAM or malware.  Eventually email tools focused on email authentication, using various techniques to substantiate the origin of an email: which verified the email was coming from a reliable (e.g) domain.

Legitimate email marketers working with their ESPs depend on these tools and methods to get the mail delivered.  Some of these tools that are used by the ESP community to assist their email marketer customers came from sources such as  the former Internet Engineering Task Force forming the  IETF Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG)

Additionally big players, such as Yahoo, Cisco, PayPal, Google, and Microsoft have worked on the inbox email issue: how to stop spam, viruses and malware.

 Some of the tools developed and used include:

  1. SPF- considered an older protocol used to authenticate email but not designed to stop SPAM
  2.  An authentication standard developed as an anti-spam measure using email validation by confirming sender IP addresses
  3. Dmarc
  4. Dkim
  5. Bimi

All these systems are designed to help both the end user and the email marketer. Authenticated email with a great sender’s reputation will almost assure inbox delivery to the PC, Cell phone, or tablet, resulting in many email opens.  Email deliverability tools that work with all those internet devices keeps the email marketer happy, because they can deliver the mail and track their success.

tracking reportTracking email opens, clickthrough’s, referrals and so forth is crucial for email marketing.  When email verification systems came on the scene, such as DMARC, the marketer (usually with the help of their ESP) utilized them with great results and tracking metrics proved it.  This data is invaluable, and there’s many blogs written on how to take advantage of tracking reports from a marketing perspective.

And then IPHONE IOS15 came along.  It doesn’t stop SPAM or manage email.  IOS15 does not authenticate email addresses or IP addresses.  It doesn’t care about sender’s reputation or the tools that marketers rely on-such as personalization, segments, drip campaigns, and autoresponders. It gives control to the device, the IPHONE when the end user decides to allow their phone to control their mail.

Why would giving control over to the inbox to a device be an issue –

For the following reasons:

apple phoneAccording to APPLE ISO15 is an answer to online privacy, an ongoing worldwide discussion. With that in mind this new upgrade to the IPHONE has a feature called “Mail Privacy Protection” once activated the following happens:

In some cases, unread email will be marked as opened.  Users of the IPHONE with installed ISO15 will be able to turn off tracking, hide both their IP address and email address.  This will change the email marketer climate more so than prior tools because those are developed to support email deliverability, verification and authentication. Therefore ISO15 will change the way marketers track their success with email campaigns as open rates will not be a reliable metric.   

But you can continue to:

  1. Test your email. Change up your subject line, content, and/or images in test groups.  Your goal may be a link click, a purchase, a survey, or just an acknowledgement.
  2. Continue to write compelling content with a Call to Action.
  3. Analyze your clickthrough information
  4. Consider texting a quick message about the latest email. (Call us for more information on how to text to your list customers)

Metrics aren’t lost, and when you can’t rely on open rates, measure email engagement with:           

  1. Clickthough rates
  2. Website visits
  3. New Subscribes
  4. Purchases

Following SPAM. Online privacy has become a concern, many tools have been developed from software to hardware to curtail SPAM: ISP’s like Google and Yahoo developed methods to keep their customer’s inbox free of SPAM, viruses and malware.  Not too many tools address privacy.

Email marketers are concerned with user engagement, and privacy usually means they will not sell or lend an email address or misuse or share any personal information.  User engagement is easily measured with opens which allow the marketer to track their campaign, follow up on interest, use segmentation and triggered email such as an autoresponder.

Without reliable tracking, email open data becomes skewed, and, the ability to identify inactive email addresses becomes problematic. Therefore keeping a “clean list’ will be difficult. 

Clean your list of inactive addresses now, focus on click rates to manage deliverability and take a wait and see approach and new tools or work around may be developed soon. 
Need assistance? Contact us today.