iOS 15: How to Prepare for Apple’s Changes

IOS 15 phone

Since Apple announced its plans for iOS 15, marketers have been wondering how these changes would impact the world of email. 

Earlier this year, Klaviyo addressed questions surrounding the upcoming privacy changes and what they mean for email marketing. But there were still many questions about what iOS 15 meant for the Klaviyo platform. 

While there are still some unknowns that won’t be clarified until Apple actually releases the update, the Klaviyo team has been uncovering more details on how iOS 15 will affect your account and what you can do to get ahead of potential problems.

Here’s what we know about the Apple iOS 15 changes:

What are the Apple iOS 15 changes?

With all the recent data privacy changes, it’s difficult to keep up with every update. 

To recap, the most relevant changes that Apple will release with iOS 15, macOS Monterey, iPadOS 15, and WatchOS 8 include the ability to:

  • Hide open email behavior by pre-loading email images, including tracking pixels
  • Hide specific (e.g., city-level) location data by blocking IP addresses
  • Obscure click-through activity by using a proxy email address

Apple has been a long-time champion of digital privacy and these latest features are meant to establish their leadership in the privacy space. 

How does this affect your Klaviyo account?

There are still many unknowns with iOS 15, but here are a few ways your Klaviyo account may be impacted:

  • Open rates may be be inflated (or inaccurately heightened)
  • Location tracking may no longer be reliable at the city and region/state level
  • Revenue attribution may be inflated

The extent to which these changes will impact your account is to be determined, but there are a few remedies we can provide in the meantime. 

How is Klaviyo responding to these changes?

This information has been updated as of October 15, 2021.

The Klaviyo product team has been working with our technology and agency partners to test Apple’s beta release and understand the behavior of these new features. 

To date, impact of the iOS 15 launch has largely been as expected:

  • Machine-driven opens are being observed with increasing frequency as iOS 15 adoption grows
  • Open rates are skewing higher as a result

Still, open rate continues to be a useful way to measure email engagement. In the interest of minimizing uncertainty for Klaviyo users ahead of Black Friday Cyber Monday, Klaviyo won’t change the way Opens are displayed on the platform in the short term. In other words, reporting aggregations will continue to include machine-driven opens.

Alongside our ecosystem partners, we are currently testing and validating a new flag in the Opened Email event to identify machine-driven opens (opens that we believe are generated by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature). Once validated, we will make this flag available for segmentation so that Klaviyo users can create audiences whose engagement is not influenced by machine-driven opens.

In early 2022, we’ll complete engineering work to provide Klaviyo users with the choice of including or omitting machine-driven opens from revenue attribution. Additionally, we’ll provide clarity around the long-term plan for how machine-driven opens are represented in Klaviyo reporting.

Frequently asked questions on how you can address iOS 15

Depending on your list size, your subscriber demographics, your segments, and other factors unique to your business, there are certain steps you can take in order to optimize your Klaviyo account for the changes to come.

What if I’m just getting started or have a small list?

Don’t stress if you’re just getting started with Klaviyo or have a list size that’s less than 1,000 contacts—you likely have higher impact areas that you want to focus on right now. 

Keep an eye on the changes and consider using click rates as your primary engagement metric. 

What will the impact be for my list?

There are a couple ways Klaviyo will be helping you estimate the impact to your account. 

First, we sent out a personalized email to each account owner that estimates the percentage of Apple Mail opens based on the campaigns you sent out in the last 30 days. 

If you’d rather calculate your own estimation, there’s a prebuilt template in the Reports Library called Email Opens by Email Client to get you started. 

  • Customize this template by choosing a timeframe to see the breakdown of all your email opens by Apple Mail and Mobile Safari* compared to Gmail and other clients  
  • We recommend choosing the timeframe Last month by Entire Range 
  • If you want to track trends over time, we recommend using the timeframe This Year by Month 
  • If you want to see exactly who on your list is using Apple Mail, create a segment using Opened Email where Client Name = Apple Mail OR Mobile Safari* AND where the recipient is not suppressed.


*Updated as of October 4, 2021: Due to the nature of user agent reporting on iOS devices, visibility into end mail client is limited. Client Name usually resolves as Mobile Safari regardless of the client used to perform a given Opened Email event on iOS devices.

As a result, including Mobile Safari will capture all recipients impacted by Mail Privacy Protection, as well as a subset of recipients who are not impacted. In this respect, combining Apple Mail and Mobile Safari to assess the potential impact of iOS 15 is likely to over-estimate this share of users to some degree.

In the course of our testing, we observed that devices which had authenticated their inbox with the Mail app were subject to inflated opens, even if they did not actively use the Mail app to access their inbox.

What about revenue attribution?

Apple’s changes will require everyone to adjust how attribution is calculated, including Klaviyo. That’s why we’ll give you the option to change your attribution model for email. 

Once iOS 15 releases, we expect at least some accounts to experience inflated open rates. We know this can lead to misleading attributions. That’s why we’re giving you the option to change to a click-only email attribution model. 

If Apple Mail accounts for the minority of your total email opens, you may want to continue monitoring your open rates for a few months since the impact of iOS 15 to your audience may be low. 

If Apple Mail accounts for the majority of your total email opens, we recommend sending to your Apple Mail segment separately post-release of iOS 15 to gauge how much this particular audience has actually upgraded their operating system. Based on that segment’s open rates, you can then decide to switch to click-based attribution if you’re seeing high inflation.

Still not sure if you want to make the switch? You don’t have to decide right away. 

This option will always be available to you. Much like changes to attribution windows, you can choose to switch to a click-only attribution (or back to opens and clicks) at any time. 

Keep in mind, attribution changes won’t be retroactive and will only go into effect following the date you made the change.

What about deliverability and segmentation?

You might be wondering what to do about your deliverability and how to handle your engaged and unengaged segments. 

We recommend expanding your engaged segment definition to include other signals of engagement like clicks, purchases, and site activity—to name a few.

If you have any automations (or flows) that trigger based off of email opens, consider expanding that trigger definition to include other engagement criteria like clicks or product views. 

Most importantly, if you haven’t been keeping up with your list health, now is a great time to do some list cleaning to make sure you’re only contacting people who want to hear from you.

What about A/B testing and Smart Send Time?

We anticipate that our algorithms for A/B testing and Smart Send Time should be powerful enough, even with inflated open rates.

If you conduct regular A/B tests and more than 45% of your email opens come from Apple Mail, you might want to consider switching to click rates as your winning metric. 

For Smart Send Time, the algorithm doesn’t look at open data on the individual level, so the optimal send time results should remain accurate, but it may take longer to calculate. 

If you haven’t already, this could also be a great time to consider adding SMS to your arsenal to make sure your messages continue to be timely and engaging. 

Still unsure of what path to take? Refer to our decision chart.

Your partner in navigating iOS 15

Open rates aren’t the defining factor of the success of your email marketing program, even if it may feel that way. Although iOS 15 is going to bring changes, we’ll continue to deliver the best possible experience so you can continue to grow your business—even if that means doing some things a little differently.

Rest assured the Klaviyo team is working hard to help make the transition easier for you, and we’ll more updates when we have additional information to share about the ramifications of iOS 15.

Get ahead of the iOS 15 changes and begin implementing these strategies in Klaviyo.

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