HubSpot Community Blog

by: HubSpot Employee
HubSpot Employee

How to Prepare for the Apple’s iOS15 Privacy Changes [Checklist Included]

Apple recently began rolling out their new iOS 15 privacy features, including Mail Privacy Protection. This update is a big win for customer privacy, but may impact your marketing efforts and the metrics you see in our platform. In this post, we’ll walk you through everything we know so far, and provide a checklist to help you identify places in your HubSpot account that might be impacted.


Note: this post was last updated on January 6.


What’s the change?

Apple’s new mobile operating system (iOS15) launched on September 20 and will roll out over the next few months, and it includes several privacy-related changes. At a high level:

  1. Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from seeing if and when a recipient opens an email in Apple Mail. It also hides a recipient’s IP address, so senders can’t determine their location.
  2. Hide My Email lets users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private.


These changes impact all email service providers that send emails to Apple Mail users.


What does this mean in the short term?


  • Open rates may decline with no change in actual engagement. As a part of the changes, Apple will load tracking pixels on behalf of their users. In essence, Apple will be “opening” emails on behalf of their users. These opens will be caught by HubSpot's bot filtering technology. Due to the nature of Apple's technology, the bot filtering will unlikely be able to tell the difference between an Apple-bot open and a human open. As a result, email open metrics in HubSpot may decrease when human opens are bundled with Apple-bot opens, and any other processes that rely on open tracking might be compromised, too. Users can continue to use the open rate metric in HubSpot, but we recommend against using it for critical processes and reports. You can turn off bot filtering if you'd like to manually judge which opens may be human and which may be bots
  • Realtime email tactics that rely on IP-based location will be less effective. For example, time zone sends that use IP addresses to identify location and align send times to each recipients’ unique location may no longer function for Apple Mail users.
  • Email open activity may be spread across multiple contact records — even though they represent the same person. With “Hide My Email,” users can create fake, random email addresses to shield their personal email addresses from senders. In practice, this means that there may be several different “contacts” opening an email, even though just one person exists. 

What does this mean in the long term?

While the new feature may change your marketing tactics and cause some short-term heartburn, it’s designed to create better experiences for all of our customers, and that’s always a good thing. Putting your customers first is what inbound is all about, and it’s a concept HubSpot has been championing since our inception. Put simply, when your customers win, you win too.


What should I do about it?

From a high level, keep doing what you’re doing. Stay the course with your marketing. Focus on creating great content and engaging experiences for your audience. As it relates to Apple’s changes, be mindful of your open metrics for email, with the understanding that they might look different moving forward. Shift your focus to other, more reliable metrics that better reflect actual engagement, like clicks and replies. And do an audit of your downstream marketing processes (e.g. list segmentation, automation) that rely on open tracking. Not sure where to begin? We’ve created a checklist of HubSpot tools that might be impacted. 


Which HubSpot features might be impacted? [Checklist]

We recommend familiarizing yourself with existing reports and processes that might be impacted by these changes. Establish baselines to measure the impact of the changes, and evolve your process accordingly. 


Here’s a list of features in HubSpot that might rely on email open tracking:


Properties. The following properties may be impacted. Monitor reports, lists, and workflows that use these properties, and consider updating them. In addition, audit API integrations that reference these properties.


☐ Last marketing email open date


☐ Marketing emails opened [#]


☐ First marketing email open date


☐ Sends since last engagement


☐ Recent sales email open date


☐ Last engagement date


☐ Any scoring properties or calculated properties


☐ Workflows. Audit your workflows for criteria that include “open” metrics and properties. Check the following places:


☐ Triggers (including “Marketing Email” triggers)


☐ Delays


☐ Goal criteria


☐ Suppression lists


☐ Branches


☐ Reports


☐ Audit your custom reports for criteria that reference “open” metrics and properties (listed above).


☐ Audit and benchmark your email reports. Track changes, and consider using click and reply data to drive decisions instead.


☐ Lists. Audit your lists for criteria that reference “open” metrics and properties (listed above).


What happens next?

Our product team is actively assessing how we can address this change within our own email tool, and we will reach out with any updates. In the meantime, if you’d like to share ideas or connect with peers on this topic, head over to this thread.