Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, took place last week with all of the expected excitement and speculation about announcements, new releases, and product developments.

But one development from the first day of the conference has alarmed many email marketers and newsletter publishers: Mail Privacy Protection, which Apple has billed as one of the “latest innovations in [its] legacy of privacy leadership”. Mail Privacy Protection is designed to block tracking pixels – tiny, invisible images that download along with other images in the email, and record an open – so that users of Apple Mail can interact with emails without the sender tracking whether they have been opened.

Open rate tracking is known to have its flaws as a metric, not least the fact that it requires images to be downloaded for it to work, which means it can’t be used in plain text email campaigns and won’t register an open if image downloading is disabled.

Despite this, the metric is widely used as an indicator of how much engagement an email campaign has received, particularly in judging the effectiveness of subject lines, as well as things like the overall health and quality of an email list.

But with open rate tracking now being blocked by at least one major email client – which, given the precedent set by things like the crackdown on third-party cookies, may prompt others to follow suit – how can marketers adapt? Is it time for a long-overdue rethink of how to approach email marketing? We reached out to the email experts in Econsultancy’s roster of contacts to find out.

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