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The Email Marketer’s Guide to iOS 18 (Plus 4 Actionable Takeaways to Use Right Now!)

Jun 12, 2024

Apple just released their new iOS 18 . . . When it goes live this Fall, it’s really going to shake up inboxes! 

Email marketers fear not though. You already have the tools at your disposal to handle these changes. Here, we’re going to break down exactly what impacts iOS 18 has on email marketing. We’re also sharing actionable tips, so your metrics don’t slip, your content remains engaging, and your email marketing program remains as successful as ever. 

In this guide, we answer email marketer’s top questions and concerns, including: 

  • How will iOS 18 organize email content?
  • What do the iOS privacy updates mean? 
  • Do I need to update my email marketing strategy and content to account for iOS 18?
  • Should I change the email marketing metrics I track? 
  • My emails will be summarized by AI now! What does that mean?
  • How can I create content that’s optimized for those AI email summaries? 
  • What can I do to make my emails stand out in the Promotions tab? 
  • Why are my subject lines more important than ever? 

Note: All of this research is based on 20+ years of email marketing experience, but no hands-on experience with iOS 18 . . . yet! We’ll update this guide as we learn more. Make sure to subscribe to the Backstroke newsletter to be alerted when the latest version hits.  

What Email Features Are Changing With iOS 18? 

There are two key concepts to break down here—content organization and privacy changes.

How will iOS organize email contents for its users? 

The most frequently discussed change coming to iPhone’s Mail app pertains to how inboxes will be organized. With iOS 18, emails will be separated into four different folders upon delivery.

Here’s a look at the four folders and their purposes: 

  • ​​Primary will store users’ personal and time-sensitive emails.
  • Transactions will store confirmations and receipts.
  • Updates will store your news and social media notifications.
  • Promotions will store your marketing emails, promotions, and coupons.

Keep scrolling for tips on how to keep your emails engaging, even though they’ll be sorted into a new folder!

What do the iOS privacy updates mean for email marketing? 

Apple is maintaining its high standards for privacy with this new iOS rollout. When this comes to email marketing, their latest updates limit the ability to collect information about users’ Mail activities, including open rates and locations. With iOS 18, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection measures are enabled by default for all users, making it harder for marketers to track their email opens accurately.

How do I update my email marketing strategy and content to account for iOS 18? 

Now that you understand the basics of Apple’s updates, let’s look at some actionable to-do’s to incorporate into your email marketing program. 

Should I change the email marketing metrics I track? 

Yes! As it’ll be increasingly challenging to measure engagement via traditional metrics like open rates, marketers’ focuses should shift. 

Prioritize focusing on other KPIs, like: 

  • Click through rates
  • Web traffic that comes from your emails
  • Conversions driven by your emails

These metrics will provide a clearer picture of your subscribers’ engagement and your content’s effectiveness in Apple’s privacy-first email environment. 

My email will be summarized by AI. What does that mean? 

Apple’s updated Mail app will feature a digest that pulls together all of the relevant emails from a business. Its goal is to help users to quickly scan for the most important, of-the-moment information.

Since many marketers have had stints as copywriters, we do value the importance of crafting quality content. Now’s the time to play into those copywriting strengths! You need to ensure that iOS 18 summarizes the critical points of your email copy and pushes those concepts to your subscribers. 

While Apple hasn’t released any clear and concise rules on how to structure email content to account for their new AI-based summaries, we recommend incorporating the following practices into your email program, moving forward: 

  • Copy should be clear and concise. The AI summarizations available on iOS 18 identify key topics, phrases, and sentences, in order to create summaries. Therefore, write your emails with clear and concise language. Avoid unnecessary fluff or repetition, so the AI can better understand and summarize the core messages.
  • Structure your content with purpose. Organize your email content into distinct sections or paragraphs. Each section should focus on a specific topic with call-to-action. Just like the previous bullet point suggests, you need to do everything you can to make it easier for the AI to identify your email’s key points.
  • Try optimizing for keywords. Are you running a limited time sale? Is a popular product back in stock? Incorporate relevant and interesting keywords related to your email’s subject matter throughout your promotions. This is another way to help Apple’s AI catch on to the exact points you want to communicate to your subscribers.
  • Test. Iterate. Repeat. Just as iOS 18 is new, these practices may be new to your email marketing program. Take some time to test out different ways to write, structure, and organize content. Keep track of how Apple’s AI summarizes it, then think of ways to adjust your emails, if needed. With each email, revisit our tips on how to track engagement to learn what content approaches pay off for your email marketing program.

How Can I Make My Emails Stand Out in the Promotions Tab?

Though the challenges brought on by iOS 18 may feel somewhat intimidating, it’s easier than ever for marketers to access AI tools to personalize their emails, analyze performance metrics, and provide insights into subscriber behavior. In fact, since Gmail has had these sorting features for some time now, you've likely been incorporating some of these practices into your work!

Backstroke’s latest release contains three AI-based, data-powered tools to tailor your subject lines and make your sends stand out in the Promotions tab. You can try all for free, right now. Just visit the Backstroke Sandbox to explore:

  • Paste Your Body: Paste your email's body copy and we'll return subject line copy so good it'll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
  • Trends Lite: Access oceans of messaging data to fine tune your campaigns, with trending emojis, words to stay away from, holiday data, and more.
  • Subject Line Generator: Get a taste of AI email marketing with a slimmed down free version of our subject line generator.

These tools help marketers focus on delivering value through high-quality, relevant email content that can compete with the competition and stand out amongst automated summaries.

Pro Tip: Since promotional emails will be sorted by businesses who send them, we suggest experimenting with your From Name. For example, we could say an email is sent from Allyson or Tyler, rather than from Backstroke. By applying this trick, your emails may just appear within a subscriber’s Primary inbox folder. 

Why Are My Subject Lines More Important Than Ever? 

Even though iOS is changing quite a lot in the email marketing world, one concept remains strong. Subject lines are still important. In fact, they’re more important than ever. 

With the iOS-generated preview text taking some creative control away from marketers, you still have one chance to make an inbox impression through effective email subject lines. Backstroke’s email subject line generator crafts captivating subject lines tailored to your audience’s demographics, devices, interests, locations, and more. It incorporates your branding, voice, style, and slang to capture attention and inspire clicks.

You can try a lite version of our email subject line generator here. 

Or you can schedule a demo with us to learn how to unlock its full power.

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