The open rate is dead!

The new Apple iOS 15 update is going to finally kill off the open rate in email marketing, and it's quite a big change for email platforms and how we measure reader engagement.

If you use an email platform, look up how they're telling customers about the change. They may have platform-specific information, but the main theories here will still apply.

What's happening?

Apple is changing how the default Apple Mail app opens emails. It will look like all the emails are opened, even when they aren't.

This will mean:

  • Open rates are massively inflated, making them unusable
  • You won't be able to safely A/B test subject lines
  • Click to open rates (CTOR) will also be junk. You'll need to change to Click Through Rate (CTR). Check with your email provider which one they use.
  • Countdown timers won't work

This isn't just impacting your business, everyone from solopreneurs to household names with huge email teams are wondering how to deal with the new changes.

Why should I care?

If you use open rates, stop.


Open rates weren't perfect. It wasn't the most accurate metric, but it's a good canary in the coal mine.

Subject line testing is quick, easy and a very low barrier to getting something started. With open rates taken out, it'll mean having to prepare two separate emails, which will mean smaller businesses are likely to miss out.

Is this the end for email?

Email has been prounounced dead so many times, it's the most successful zombie out there. 

Email has survived GDPR, Facebook, WhatsApp and spammers using it. It will survive the iOS 15 update, even it means the reporting is a bit less accurate.

What should I do?

Stop using email open rates and click to open rates and focus on getting readers to click your email.

Anything that tells email providers and mailbox providers that your email is engaging now that opens aren't reliable.