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Rethinking UTMs Post-iOS15 Email Update

Apple’s New iOS 15 Update to Block More Than Just IP Addresses

Online privacy has been an eyebrow-raising issue for a while now, and it is no different in the email and marketing industry. The latest trends show that in response to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Apple unveiled a new privacy policy regarding emails known as Mail Privacy Protection. Furthermore, their new iOS14 release now blocks tracking pixels, UTMs, and IDFAs within emails and tracking and attributing potential prospects and customers, disrupting the entire digital marketing industry. And with more and more companies opting to send out personalized emails in the form of newsletters, companies are now engaging customers and prospects directly to cultivate first-party relationships through conversions and click-through efforts.

These changes protect iOS users from marketers trying to track whether they are opening and reading their emails, making it possible for marketers to track click-throughs and other behaviors and helping agencies market to them in a more tailored fashion. These tailored attributions measure metrics such as re-engagements, automated nurture flow, send-time optimization, real-time personalization, and monitoring deliverability. As a result, many small businesses feel the sting due to blocked triggers throughout their customers’ journey, and more so than their larger counterparts.

How in the World Do We Adjust? Here are 5 UTM Best Practices Post iOS15

  • Set UTM parameters within the URLs to track click-throughs to websites to collect more information for campaigns

Apple newly announced that their iOS15 blocks marketers’ ability to track IP addresses, locations, and whether prospects opened their emails. Now, the only way to track whether their intended audience opens their emails is to track click-through rates, which requires setting up UTM parameters within the URL.

  • Track legitimate email addresses through Apple’s image cache system

Apple’s email protective system is the silver lining for marketers because the former can only cache images if the mail app is running, and it only does so if connected to the web. So even though it will not show marketers whether intended audiences opened their email, it will convey whether marketers will have real subscribers.

  • Measure the potential impact to email market share that affects your audience

Marketers should find out whether their target audience is affected by the new iOS15 mail protection update, that way they will know if it even matters. Therefore, it is worth rethinking any marketing automation that’s currently based on opens.

  • Implement a multichannel approach to customer communications

Marketers should find multiple channels to implement their approach to customer communications. These customer communications can span such channels as SMS, website notifications, and chat/messaging apps. Emails should not be the only way for companies to reach out to their customers and prospects, thus it is imperative to diversify communications approaches to ensure better reach and impressions, ultimately leading to click-throughs.

  • Consistency with capitalization, spacing, and reviewing

Consistency makes up an enormous portion that spans the effective utilization of these best practices with UTMs. Try to maintain consistency in these parts of your UTMs when working with campaigns:

  • Keep track of UTM parameters that have been used in the past as it will help keep your labeling system as consistent as possible.
  • Use dashes instead of white spaces in your parameters. Doing so will help make your URLs look more clean and professional.
  • Use lowercase whenever possible. These parameters are sensitive to upper and lower case letters, and if one letter is off due to capitalization, it will start recording within a completely different parameter.
  • And lastly, a company should never use UTM parameters to track links within their own website. The point is to track click-throughs from different sources to get accurate readings, not dilute those visits with misleading ones.

New Tides Ahead

We are already seeing marketers proportionately adjusting their approach with ongoing new legislation that further restricts what they can or cannot do during their tracking campaigns. Sure, the industry is going through a change of pace, but there is a silver lining in it for both sides: users get more privacy and marketers find out which approach is effective and who their true audience is in this whole iOS15 email protection plight. However, the use of UTMs and multi-channel communication approaches will be utilized most effectively if digital marketers commit to the above-mentioned best practices.

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