Are Open Rates Dead? What Apple’s MPP Means for Email Marketers

Feb 15, 2022

Nearly two out of three marketers say open rates are the primary metric used to measure email marketing performance, but Apple’s privacy changes have killed open-rate accuracy. If you're a marketer, it's time to rethink your current email strategies.

Meghan BazamanSenior Content Analyst
Are Open Rates Dead? What Apple’s MPP Means for Email Marketers

What we'll cover

It’s a volatile, yet compelling time for email marketers. Increased privacy regulations and restrictions from governing bodies and tech platforms alike have made headlines over the past year. 

And while new limitations for marketers may at first seem like bad news, a closer look reveals an opportunity to innovate and update performance monitoring strategies. 

To conduct effective email marketing, it's vital that companies are aware of present challenges like Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). It’s safe to say that email marketing isn’t going anywhere—it’s essential to business success. 


What is MPP? 

MPP (or Mail Privacy Protection) is a new option located in the Apple device settings of iOS 15 that prevents senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. Apple Mail users that activate the feature can now better control apps’ use of their data. 

The feature, announced in September 2021, impacts email marketers because they won’t be able to determine which (or if) Apple Mail users opened their emails, when they opened them, the device type they used (e.g., mobile or desktop), or their geolocation. Inhibiting this information collection complicates email performance reporting and could affect common marketing processes such as marketing automation, personalization, or other software/tools that use email-open activity, pixel tracking, or geolocation tracking.   

Apple Mail is one of the most popular email clients in the world, alongside other key players such as Google and Outlook. In fact, 21% of marketers say Apple mail users account for over half of their company’s email subscribers, according to GetApp’s recent Email and Social Media Marketing survey. (See our survey methodology at the end of this piece.)

Given the large share of Apple Mail users, marketers have to address MPP’s email performance ramifications. If they don’t, they risk inaccurate measurement of email campaign performance, thrown-off automation, or other potential mayhem.

What can you do about MPP? 

Luckily, there’s guidance available to help you determine which performance metrics to consider instead of open rates. 

GetApp asked marketers from small, midsize, and large businesses to weigh in on how they feel about increasing consumer privacy protections and regulation. We also explored how they’ve responded to Apple’s MPP and what actions they’ve taken as a result. Our findings below will help you figure out which metrics top email marketing performers are using today, and which performance metrics you can consider instead of open rates.

What marketers know about MPP and how they’ve reacted

Many marketers understand (and condone) that the Wild West days of email marketing are over. They are embracing consumer privacy and recognize they need to adapt to growing industry trends to better protect consumer privacy and data.  

Today’s marketers say they are already proactive about ensuring consumer data privacy and are looking for ways to improve their email marketing approaches. 


Looking for additional marketing guidance on how to protect consumers? Learn more in GetApps’ comprehensive guide for honest and transparent marketers here

But how much do marketers know about MPP? And equally as important, how does MPP impact their work? 

Among marketers surveyed, 64% believe that MPP will forever change email marketing. Additionally, 65% indicate they are familiar with MPP. 

Yet among these individuals, we found some grave misconceptions about the new privacy changes. This tells us that while awareness of the update is high, there are gaps in knowledge about the specific details and impact. 

A majority of marketers (77%) that are familiar with Apple’s MPP falsely believe that the updates were turned on automatically for iPhone users. 

In fact, users have to opt-in to the update. This indicates that marketers need better educational resources that can explain what MPP specifically does and doesn’t do, and how the update could potentially impact their day-to-day tasks.   

Our research also found that marketers are aware of the impact to open rates, but unclear regarding the effect MPP has on tracking invisible pixels (MPP prevents the use of invisible pixels to collect data from users). Again, we believe that education guides or materials can help marketers avoid misinterpretations regarding the update and how it specifically impacts pixel tracking.  

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Given the high potential for misunderstanding about the impact of MPP, business leaders can benefit from providing additional information or resources about the update to their marketing staff. And we found that marketers are eager for information:

A majority of marketers (70%) would like additional education and training from their company regarding the impact of Apple’s MPP

Despite the education gaps, a surprising 60% of marketers say their company is prepared for MPP. Does this mean MPP really hasn’t had a big impact on the overall performance of their email marketing initiatives?   

Our survey reveals 44% of marketers experienced the same email marketing performance since MPP went into effect—shockingly more than a third (36%) say performance actually improved.

But don’t get too comfortable—while MPP hasn’t totally upended email marketing yet, 50% of marketers expect changes to come within the next 12 months.

when mpp impact

The number-one impact faced by marketers is that their email open times are unknown—more than one in three marketers are experiencing this now (35%). And while 26% are not currently experiencing an impact to email automated flows, significantly more (40%) expect this to happen in the future.  


However, for many marketers the challenges created by MPP are being felt today: 57% of marketers admit that MPP has negatively impacted their team’s ability to capture customer data and this is likely to grow in the future.

Overall, the data tells us three important things:

  1. Marketers are highly aware of MPP’s impact on open rates, with many currently experiencing unknown open times that could impact their email marketing performance metrics.

  2. Even though MPP hasn’t brought about a huge impact to overall email initiatives yet, many marketers expect it will further disrupt the technology they leverage for email marketing. That’s why it’s important to have a plan. 

  3. You need to evaluate email activities that rely on open rates and update them with new metrics to gauge your performance. 

In the next section, we’ll offer tips for other performance metrics you can use as alternatives to open rates. 

4 reasons why you don’t need email open rates

Email marketers can adapt to MPP and even improve their email performance measurement by honing in on customer behavior. Ultimately, MPP could be a win for individuals looking to create better content and get results. 

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Below are four relevant measurements we recommend incorporating into your email KPIs (if you aren’t already):

  1. Leverage technology to improve your email experience. There isn’t a better time to begin crafting elevated email experiences for your audience. Start by taking a step back and asking yourself how you can provide audiences with more information that is valuable, compelling, and relevant to customer needs. Maybe this means incorporating video, experimenting with animation, or improving the personalization of your message. Luckily there are many email marketing software platforms you can experiment with to really take advantage of every click. Ultimately, if you don’t have a valid reason (hopefully one that adds value) to contact subscribers, you really shouldn’t hit send. 

  2. Replace open rates with click-through rates. This is an engagement metric that calculates the percentage of delivered emails that are clicked on. It’s a good alternative to open rate and can help you determine if your audience is interested in your email content over time. You can also use click-through rates to better understand audience reactions to link placements and counts. Replacing open rates with click-through rates will allow you to avoid open-rate inaccuracies and uncertainties, while providing a richer, engagement-focused metric for your email campaigns.    

  3. Monitor your sender reputation score and subscriber lists. Sender reputation is a score that an Internet service provider assigns to an organization that sends an email based on factors such as the amount of emails sent, bounces, spam markings, unsubscribes, and more. It’s a helpful metric to track because the score is impacted by subscriber engagement. Therefore, reputation scores can help you determine if your email campaigns are generating positive engagement. You’ll get a sense of how your open rates are doing as well because seeing a stronger reputation means they are getting to inboxes and recipients are interacting with them.

  4. Maintain clean email lists. Focusing on email deliverability is another helpful practice in response to MPP. Because customer data is such a big asset, you should begin by regularly reviewing, cleaning, and validating your email lists. For example, you can segment or send a re-engagement email to identify inactive subscribers. This will help you get more interaction from your campaigns. You want to make the most of every email sent and performing regular list hygiene will help you only email those that truly want your message.  

In addition to incorporating these strategies, you can observe what companies with a high email marketing ROI are doing in response to MPP. 

Which tactics are companies with the highest email marketing return on investment (ROI) using?

Our survey research explored how marketers with email ROI greater than $20 for every dollar spent have responded to MPP. We also collected data on the types of tactics that are most popular among this group. 

Marketers with high email ROI are implementing tactics such as personalization, list management, and email delivery optimization. (Note that they align with our recommendations for open-rate alternatives mentioned above).  

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Finally, we found that marketers with high email ROI are taking a variety of actions as a result of MPP:

  1. Experimenting with new marketing tactics

  2. Increasing email personalization 

  3. Changing data privacy practices

  4. Increasing their monitoring of email deliverability 

  5. Increasing re-engagement campaigns  

If you want better email ROI and accurate email performance metrics, it’s critical that you focus on customer engagement and consider adopting replacements for open rates. 


GetApp’s 2022 Email and Social Media Marketing Survey was conducted in January 2022 among 299 respondents to learn more about small, midsize, and large business email and social media marketing tactics. Respondents were screened for full-time employees of all company sizes that have involvement with marketing-related activities. They must have been working within roles including advertising, brand management, customer experience or service, data and analytics, IT, marketing, product marketing and management, sales, or strategic planning and be current email and social media marketing users.

About the author

Meghan Bazaman

Senior Content Analyst
Meghan Bazaman is a senior analyst at GetApp, covering all the latest trends, issues, and developments in marketing technology. With more than a decade of experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research, her work has been featured in publications such as Ad Age, MediaPost, and Martech Zone. In her spare time she enjoys looking for the best hiking trails around Austin and spoiling her cat Javier.
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