How iOS 15 May Impact DTC Ecommerce for Brands

Apple recently announced their upcoming software update, iOS 15, which may impact brands that offer direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce. 

With the new software update comes enhanced email privacy settings courtesy of Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection. The Mail Privacy feature enables users to:

  • Prevent senders (i.e. direct-to-consumer businesses and their respective email teams) from seeing if an email has been opened
  • Hide their IP address so senders can’t learn user locations or build customer profiles
  • Generate burner email addresses that direct back to a user’s inbox to protect their actual email. 

The good news is these services will start out being available only to iCloud Plus subscribers, meaning users will have to pay for them. 

The bad news is senders will no longer be able to rely on open or click rates to gauge customer engagement or email deliverability, and creating detailed customer profiles and segmentation may become more difficult. Email platform Litmus said it well when they listed out the implications for email marketers:

  • Last open date will no longer be a valuable metric for creating segments. This will be especially important for unengaged segments and maintaining deliverability best practices.
  • Flows or triggered emails that rely on open data to move forward or move into a specific email may no longer work.
  • A/B tests, specifically of subject lines where the success metric is open rate, won’t be accurate. Neither will send timing tests that also look at open rate to determine a winner. 

iOS 15 is slated to roll out Autumn 2021, which means marketers have time to prepare for these updates. Over the next couple of months, email marketers (ourselves included) should

  • Prioritize list health and sender reputation. Establishing good sending practices now and confirming you have good deliverability will make it easier to continue with best practices when open rates are no longer reliable. 
  • Take a look at the email clients your audience uses to gauge how many use Apple Mail and what the potential effect of iOS 15 may be. 
  • Run creative tests and establish a baseline of engagement with click-through rates to test with more reliable metrics and get a more accurate sense of engagement for the future.
  • Review your segments and flows for any open rate metrics or triggers and develop alternative metrics to indicate engagement. 

(See a more comprehensive list here.) 

We’ll be assessing our current email projects to ensure we can help our clients maintain clean, engaged lists and continue to offer personalized content. 

If you’re concerned about your list health or email program in the wake of the upcoming software update, please reach out to

Additional Resources: 

Apple is launching its new iOS 15 software the fall of 2021. Here's what the Mail Privacy feature means for direct-to-consumer brands.

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