August 2021: Apple iOS 15 is coming — What Digi Fundraisers Need to Know

With Apple rolling out their latest iPhone operating system, iOS 15, business as usual is about to change in a big way for Digital Fundraising and Email Marketers. While this update will have a host of new changes, one has been keeping email marketers on their toes: enhanced privacy protections for users who use the Apple Mail app.

old graphic

We’ll break down exactly what’s changing and what this means below:


Apple has just over 50% the 2021 client share for emails — whether that’s someone with an actual Apple email address or if they’re using the native Apple Mail app on their device.

And with updates to iOS 15, pen rates as we know them will cease to exist. While there has always been consternation as to how much weight email marketers should put into open rates to begin with, they have always been helpful for things like reengagement series.

The change Apple is making will allow users to opt in to keep their information private. One of the implications will be that external images will be loaded privately, essentially blocking open rate data from being reported to the email marketer.

This means that open rates, once iOS 15 is adopted, will be greatly inflated as the tracking pixels that report on them will be rendered useless.

Here at COMPETE, we’ve always found open rates helpful when it comes to reengagement emails. Even if an inactive email doesn’t click on a link, just having them open an email for the first time in 3, 6, 12, etc. months means they’re someone we want to continue to target in order to get them to convert.

But now with open rates essentially a thing of the past, we’re going to need to rely on some different metrics to determine success.


Now, with open rates essentially going out the window, email marketers will need to look at other metrics including Clicks and Conversion Rates to get a more accurate gauge on who is interacting with your emails.

Clicks show you how many actual link clicks you’re getting in your emails. This can be clicks on anything you have linked — so the actual call to action, social media buttons, the unsubscribe link, or the disclaimer. Clicks show you who is actually engaged enough after opening your email.

Conversion Rates take it a step further and show you who is interacting after clicking. So these are people who click and then take an action. Whether that be clicking your donate buttons and then donating, or clicking on a petition link and signing the petition. Conversion rates are one of the best metrics to look at when determining the success of your email.


If possible, find out what email clients your list is using to get an idea of how much of your list is using Apple (note: not every CRM will have this).

Start to pull as much data as possible on your current metrics to get a baseline before iOS 15 goes into effect. You’ll want to know what opens and clicks are across various domains.

Segment as much as possible and consider scrubbing your list of longtime inactive subscribers.

Reengage your list now! If you still want to target openers who may not click, start doing so now, before iOS 15 hits. That way you can move them into your general cadence based on their true open rates.

Test, test, test! We know we harp on testing, but it’s going to be even more important once iOS 15 is adopted widely. Testing clicky emails is going to be key to get the kind of metrics and results you’re looking for.

old graphic

Without useful data on open rates, split-testing to get feedback on email effectiveness becomes even more important

There are still a lot of moving pieces with this latest iOS update and we won’t truly know the impacts until it’s rolled out and we’re able to see it in real time. But, based on what we know right now, this could have a ripple effect throughout the industry and it’s best to get prepared now.

If you have any questions about iOS 15 or email deliverability in general you can always reach me at the info below:

Jamison Doran
Director of Fundraising

Skip to content