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Email Marketing in the Age of Privacy: Navigating Challenges and Strategies

Human looking through extra-large binoculars. Picture represents Elorn's blog post on privacy.

As an ecommerce business, you’re probably familiar with the importance of email marketing in reaching and engaging your customers. However, in recent years, the introduction of increased privacy features, such as Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection and Google’s Gmail privacy features, has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to reach their audience effectively.

In this blog post, we will discuss the problems marketers are facing and provide tactics they are using to adapt. We will also touch on consumer behavioural insights and GDPR-related issues.

Challenges Facing Email Marketers

The first challenge email marketers face is the fact that recipients are becoming more conscious of their privacy. With the increasing number of data breaches and privacy scandals, consumers are understandably wary of giving out their personal information. This trend is reinforced by privacy features that are specifically designed to protect consumers.

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, for example, hides the recipient’s IP address and prevents senders from tracking when and how often emails are opened. Similarly, Gmail’s privacy features hide images by default and automatically classify emails into categories, including Promotions, Social, and Updates. As a result, marketers are finding it more difficult to accurately track email engagement and conversion rates, which can be vital in assessing the success of an email marketing campaign.

Another problem is that these privacy features may lead to a decrease in the number of subscribers. Consumers may not want to provide personal information or opt-in to marketing emails if they believe their data will be misused or sold. This could lead to a lower conversion rate and a decrease in overall engagement.

Grey email opens

“Grey opens” typically refer to email opens that are not fully tracked, often due to email clients blocking tracking pixels or images. Grey opens are part of the larger issue of email tracking and privacy concerns. With more email clients and users becoming aware of tracking and privacy concerns, marketers are needing to find new ways to measure email engagement and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Tactics Marketers Can Use to Thrive in the Age of Privacy

Despite these challenges, there are still ways for email marketers to reach their target audience effectively. Below are some commonly used tactics:

  1. Use segmentation and personalisation: By segmenting your email list and personalising your emails, you can make your subscribers feel valued and more likely to engage with your content.
  2. Focus on quality content: Make sure your emails are relevant, informative, and engaging. This will increase the chances of recipients opening and engaging with your emails.
  3. Build trust: Be transparent about your data collection and usage practices. Let your subscribers know what data you collect, how it is used, and how it is protected.
  4. Adapt to new privacy features: Stay up to date with the latest privacy features and adjust your email marketing strategy accordingly. For example, use alt text to ensure images are still visible to users who have disabled images in their email client.
  5. Using first-party data: With third-party data becoming less reliable, some marketers are focusing on collecting and using first-party data, such as data collected from their own website or app. This data can be used to personalise email content and target subscribers more effectively.
  6. Exploring alternative marketing channels: To compensate for the limitations of email marketing, some marketers are exploring alternative marketing channels, such as social media, search engine marketing, or paid advertising. These channels can help marketers reach their target audience in new and different ways.

Lessons Learned Since the Introduction of Privacy Features

Since the introduction of privacy features, marketers have had to adapt and adjust their email marketing strategies to comply with the new regulations. The implementation of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the EU in 2018, for example, required marketers to obtain explicit consent from subscribers before sending marketing emails. This led to a more transparent and ethical approach to email marketing, which ultimately benefited both marketers and consumers.

Consumer Behavioural Insights

Understanding consumer behaviour is critical to a successful email marketing strategy. According to a recent study, 62% of consumers prefer to receive promotional emails at least once a week, with 38% preferring daily emails. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that consumers are becoming more selective about the emails they open and engage with. So, it’s crucial to make sure your emails are relevant, informative, and engaging.


In conclusion, the introduction of privacy features has significantly impacted email marketing. However, by adapting to these changes and focusing on providing quality content and building trust, marketers can still reach their audience effectively. As email marketers, it’s essential to stay up to date with the latest privacy features and regulations to ensure compliance and build a successful email marketing strategy.

At Elorn, we are committed to helping our customers grow by providing valuable information and insights on topics such as email marketing, so you can continue to engage your audience effectively while adhering to privacy regulations.


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