3 Birds Adapts to Apple's iOS 15 Updates Expected to Affect Email Marketing

13.09.21 04:51 PM By Layton Judd

Privacy. It's a big deal. And a topic we take very seriously here at 3 Birds. With an email delivery rate that consistently exceeds 98% over the past 11+ years, we pride ourselves in staying ahead of changing consumer behavior and demand not only in our products, but in our technology, too. 

With many talking more and more about privacy these days, the regulatory lines are likely to get even tighter. Apple, a longtime proponent of privacy, is bringing additional privacy protection to email with their iOS 15 update. Here's what you need to know and how we can help. 


So far, just 30% of iPhone users have updated to IOS 15, and not everyone is opting in to MPP; therefore the impact has been minimal market-wide. Our data reflects that no significant changes have been reported. 3 Birds deliverability remains solid and conversions are stronger than ever. 


  • According to GlobalStats stats counter, the US market share by Operating System (OS), as of 9/14/21 is as follows:
    • Apple 57% (with only 13% global share)
    • Android 43%
  • Apple iOS 15 updates will affect any email opened from the Apple Mail app on any device no matter what email service is used. It does not affect other email apps (like Gmail or Zoho Mail) on an iPhone. 
  • The Apple iOS 15 'Email Privacy Update' will:
    • Turn off open tracking
    • Hide IP addresses
    • Hide email addresses


Apple introduced the latest version of its operating system, iOS 15, at the WorldWide Developers Conference WWD21 in June 2021 for fall release. New features and updates include:

  1. Voice Isolation, Spatial Audio, Portrait Mode, and Grid View with SharePlay to Facetime calls
  2. Focus: A new distraction-reducing tool
  3. Complete redesigns for Safari, Weather, Maps (new 3D cities view w/enhanced detail and AR walking directions, Notifications, Wallet, Photos
  4. Updates to Messages, Spotlight, Health, Find My, Notes, Reminders, Siri, various Widgets, Translate, TV, Shortcuts, Voice Memos, Camera, Podcasts, Music, News, App Store, Gaming, Live Text, Apple Card and Apple Play, Screentime, Memoji, 5G Connectivity, iCloud+, Apple IDD, Setup, Accessibility, Keyboard and Dictation, and MORE minor improvments
  5. Added privacy features including Mail Privacy Protection & App Privacy Reporting
    • Mail Privacy Protection - Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from seeing your IP address and if you have opened their email.
    • App Privacy Report - A new section in Settings allows users to see how often apps have accessed their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the last seven days. It also shows which apps have contacted other domains and how recently they have contacted them.
  6. Secure paste - Developers can allow you to paste content from another app without having access to what you have copied until you want them to have access.
  7. Share current location - Developers can let you share your current location temporarily with a customizable button in their apps.
  8. Limited Photos Library access improvements - Developers are able to offer smart functionality when accessing the Photos library, requesting limited access to specific photos folders and album selection.


The iOS 15 Mail Privacy Protection & App Privacy Reporting affects email opened in the Apple Mail application by:

  • Masking IP addresses
  • Blocking tracking pixels
  • Front-loading images

Essentially this will disable open rate tracking. 

According to Apple, “Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. [It prevents] senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”


According to preliminary beta testing data from Litmus, when a user first opens up the Apple Mail app, they’ll get a message prompting them to either “Protect Mail activity” or “Don’t protect Mail activity.”


Beyond simple vanity metrics, some providers may commonly use opens in:

·  Re-engagement campaigns

·  Automated nurture flows

·  Send time optimizations

·  Dynamic personalizations

·  A/B testing subject lines

·  Data hygiene (removal of dis-engaged contacts)

It's important to note that opens are not the only, or even best way, to measure the above criteria or test key performance indicators. In fact, 3 Birds has always relied more heavily on actual click and deeper engagement data.


Shift Your Focus:  Many email marketers, including 3 Birds Marketing, have already shifted their focus to email the clickthrough rate (CTR) as a much clearer indicator of success and can shed more light on effectiveness and engagement. Start by tracking clickthrough rate over delivery (if you aren’t already) to set a new, additional baseline for campaign goals going forward. Watch for re-entry and track through deeper interactions, frequency, and intent.

Update Your List:  Take the opportunity to clean up your lists. Your email provider should already run your data through a rigorous cycle in order to ensure lead quality and sender reputation. 

Segmentation:  Now that you have good data, break it down between relevant audience segments based on the consumer and vehicle lifecycle to get a full 360 view of your customers. Consolidating multiple data sources into one Consumer Data Experience Platform. (CDXP) provides deep filtering to help guide future messaging and give informed entry into a comprehensive marketing loop based on actual interest and intent behavior no matter where prospects and customers are in the funnel.

Quality Content:  And, of course, always focus on content quality.


We respect privacy concerns and are a proponent of responsible and respectful communication through email channels and all channels. Changes like those affecting email like the ones being made in the Apple iOS 15 update made under the name of of privacy can have the effect of compromising relevancy which is a loss in its own right.

That said, the digital landscape and consumer demand is always changing. These latest updates will impact about half of your database and simply mean a shift from real-time open data to recent-time open data. Zero and first-party data has been a value proposition and part of the 3 Birds playbook for over a decade.


We will continue to:

  • Be an agile partner and pivot where needed to maintain the highest performing, highest ROI channel for our dealers.
  • Provide comprehensive insights and multiple-click attribution on sales and service matchbacks, focusing on metrics such as clicks, website traffic, and conversions.
  • Consult our clients based on the expertise of our staff and Digital Strategists with advanced analytics using alternative metrics to segment targets more intelligently.
  • Deliver an exceptional customer experience with professionally created quality content and personalization based on interest and intent, and vehicle lifecycle data.
  • Keep an eye on the iOS 15 and future updates and—just like we’ve done in the past when faced with Gmail cache, Yahoo! Mail cache, and Previews—we’ll continue to evaluate the situation and respond accordingly.

3 Birds has always believed that dealers deserve better. We will continue to make good on that belief through our incredibly configurable Consumer Data Experience Platform (CDXP), integrations into first-party data enhancement and acquisition, and commitment to being good partners to our dealers and to their partners.


Privacy has become a big issue in recent years, not just in the email industry.  The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, already gives people the right to remove their personal data and anonymize it to marketers. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) recently enacted its own privacy protections. And most recently, there’s been talk about the loss of third-party cookies. Today, these changes are limited to Apple’s Mail application, but it is only natural for others to soon follow. 

Email is still the top-converting marketing channel with a return on investment of 40:1. Current and future changes to privacy regulations open up the opportunity to look at the variety of ways consumer engagement and behavior can be measured and improved to increase the effectiveness of your data - and increase your own ROI even more. 

Providing the right value to the right customer at the right time is at the core of what we do. This update won't change that. We are already working on more resilient ways to help Dealers understand their customers and are launching new tools to help marketers identify customer segments and personalize their message across multiple channels.