Click based re-engagement and email list cleaning automation chart

Apr 18, 2022 | Email Marketing

Since Apple’s Mail Privacy went into effect in September 2021, open based engagement and open based email list cleaning automation is nearly obsolete. iPhones account for approximately 70% of mobile email opens according to Litmus, and Apple Mail for desktops opens represents 44.8% of market share. Apple represents 59.8% of total email clients, making it the most popular across devices. Unless you want to potentially ignore the behaviors of that many of your subscribers, or more depending on who your audience is, you cannot afford to ignore these new changes to email privacy.

To that end, I’ve overhauled my workplace’s automations for segmentation, engagement, and list-cleaning. Additionally, for reporting, I’ve replaced “open rate” with click-to-delivery rate numbers (it was interesting to see opens superficially climb 20% or more in the months between Apple’s email privacy roll-out me adjusting my reports).

Below is a chart I made showing the gist of a very general click-based engagement and list-cleaning flow. I’m conservative about permanently removing people from all emails, and I think that for e-commerce and other B2C companies it makes sense to send a yearly sale email (i.e., Black Friday/Cyber Monday) to everyone. Note, though, that the “seasonal” list should be run through a service that detects spam honeypots and does some verification that these previously responsive subscribers are still valid emails.

The leads that click any link BUT “unsubscribe” or “stay on list” make me curious about their psychology, and this chart could be expanded upon further with a different automation or path for other link clicks (i.e., social media clicks or main website/logo clicks). Alternately, for clarity and simplicity, the available links to click in the re-engagement email should probably be minimized, ideally to just “stay on list” or unsubscribe. With prior open-based email re-engagement journeys, link clicks to social media, new products, etc. weren’t such a problem.

As technology and platforms change, quick adaptation is necessary. Often “good enough” is a workable standard to roll out a new process that accomplishes the main goal, as long as adjustments can be made along the way. In this case, I would periodically look at data and re-evaluate to refine the automation. Specifically I’d look at if “no clicks in 6 months” is resulting in higher than normal churn compared to the previous open-based email journeys.

Apple’s privacy updates last year during the start of gearing up for holiday shopping and sales, drastically changed email marketing and reporting. I think these changes have been for the best, since clicks ultimately are the actions that lead to sales… and if clicks don’t convert, that’s a different problem!

Click to enlarge this email list cleaning automation chart