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A collection of building materials marketing trends and insights focused on helping building product manufacturers BLD their brand.

The Open Rate Conundrum

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Article Date: October 21, 2021

Apple’s New Email Privacy Protocols Change the Game

The open rate has long been seen as a baseline metric for engagement with a company’s eMarketing efforts. Based on changes implemented by Apple in its new operating system (iOS), the open rate’s days in that heralded position are likely over.

Released to consumers on September 20, Apple’s recent iOS 15 update includes Mail Privacy Protection.

As a market leader, anything Apple does has the potential to create a sea change for how we communicate and interact. For business communications, that also impacts how to best measure the success of eMarketing efforts.

To put it in perspective, HubSpot reports that Apple Mail and Apple mobile devices comprise more than one-third of the global email provider market. According to Statista, approximately 4 billion people use email daily with projected growth to 4.6 billion by 2025. Moreover, people tend to open their email on their mobile devices, and many of those users own an Apple device.

As a building materials manufacturer, you likely know that eMarketing is a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. How do you stay ahead of the changes?

Unpacking Apple’s Mail Protection Privacy

Marketers calculate an email open rate by dividing the number of delivered emails by those that were opened. Marketing vendors measure an open through the placement of an invisible tracking pixel image that is displayed in an HTML email. It signals to the eMarketing software that a subscriber has opened the email.

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection introduces a novel way to mute that signal by automatically opening all images sent in an HTML email, as detailed by Salesforce Ben, an online publisher for Salesforce professionals.

Apple explains that “in the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent 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.”

The obvious impact is inflated open rates, especially if a company’s subscriber base includes a large number of Apple Mail client users. Most eMarketing platforms provide a breakdown of email clients if you want to check your subscriber breakdowns.

On a related note, for marketing automation efforts, an “open” is often used as a trigger to send another email and/or as a scoring mechanism to move a subscriber through the funnel from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead. Artificial open rates create a challenge for such automated responses, because ones delivered by Apple don’t necessarily reflect that someone chose to open the email.

What Now?

While Apple’s move is aimed at protecting people’s privacy from a digital perspective, the inability to accurately track email open rates presents a challenge for building materials manufacturers seeking to market their products and services to key stakeholders – architects, specifiers, contractors, and others.

Make a few adjustments, and you can still gain valuable insights into your eMarketing campaigns:

  • Focus on email click-through rates. The click-through rate (CTR) is calculated by dividing the number of subscribers who clicked on an email link by the total delivered. This removes calculation of the email open rate, which can skew the results based on Apple’s recent IOS changes.

    Industry standards for CTRs vary, and the number is by nature going to be a smaller figure than the open rate. Campaign Monitor indicates an average email open rate should be between 12-25%; an average click-through rate should be between 2-5%.

    In some cases, eMarketing platforms are already updating their metrics to replace open rates with click-through rates.

  • Up your content game to drive more clicks. From a content and design perspective, companies should concentrate even more on sharing engaging content within an email, such as a video link back to its website.

    Driving engagement means telling compelling stories about your brand – your products, your innovations, your solutions. Give recipients a reason to want to learn more, to click through to your website and read on.

    In one example, BLD’s suggestion to add video to an eMarketing campaign for a client led to a fivefold increase in the click-through rate, outpacing the overall industry rate, too.

  • Consider segmenting Apple Mail users. As noted earlier, you can check your eMarketing platform to break down subscribers by email client. From there, you can segment those users. You can then begin to see how much open rates are impacted by Apple’s MPP by comparing those results with the broader group who use another email client, such as Gmail or Outlook, which have not yet added similar privacy protections.

At BLD Marketing, we focus exclusively on building brands in the building products market. It’s a niche we’ve carved out, and we continue to expand our expertise, including eMarketing. We can work closely with you to build impactful, measurable results that drive marketing and business success.


BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.