Lead-generation forms and promotional email signups are a value exchange between B2B marketers and their intended audiences.
In exchange for research and other content, B2B brands hope to…
However, when people enter a noncorporate email address into a lead-gen or email signup form, that can undermine those last two objectives. That puts B2B marketers in the position of having to decide whether it’s still worth it for them to accept those email addresses.
Some have decided that it’s not, and that camp is likely to grow as Apple rolls out a new and improved Hide My Email feature this fall.
Apple’s Hide My Email
A paid feature that’s being promoted alongside Mail Privacy Protection, Hide My Email allows users to easily input a unique, randomly generated icloud.com email address into the email field of any form.
That email address can be used only for the app or website the user creates it for. Any email sent to that address is redirected to the email account of the user’s choosing. However, the user can turn off that relay address at any time, causing any emails sent to that address to hard-bounce.
Relay addresses, therefore, are right next to temporary email addresses in terms of riskiness. Although those relay addresses differ from temporary email addresses in that they don’t expire after a certain amount of time or after a number of uses, they are still a potential danger to marketers for two reasons:
A Tipping Point Ahead? Then What?
To use Hide My Email, users need a paid iCloud account. Although that will limit adoption somewhat, the cheapest iCloud accounts are just $2.99 a month and hundreds of millions of Apple users already have paid accounts. And because Hide My Email offers considerably more convenience than temporary email address services, marketers could see a steady rise in hard bounces in icloud.com email addresses through the end of 2021 and into 2022.
Moreover, if companies have hard bounce rates hovering around 2%, the adoption of Hide My Email could push them into the danger zone and force them to take action.
What might some of those actions be?
First, you could stop accepting email addresses with domains used by temporary email address providers. Even if you want to give your prospects and customers the ability to use the email address of their choice, it’s fine to draw the line at not allowing them to use an address that’s going to potentially affect your ability to communicate with your other subscribers and customers. You have to look after the health of your entire email program, after all.
Second, you could also stop accepting icloud.com email addresses, which are likely less than 1% of your email addresses on file. Although existing ones are fine, new ones could be worth blocking if you see harmful levels of negative behavior stemming from Hide My Email. Keep an eye on your icloud.com addresses over the coming year, and track what percentage of them are hard-bouncing. If bounces get out of control, be prepared to act.
Third, you could stop accepting all noncorporate email addresses. That’s a solution that only B2B brands can take advantage of, but even for them there are some significant cons to consider alongside the pros.
And fourth, you could take any of the above actions only for certain forms. Depending on your goals, hard bounce rates, and the behaviors of your audience, you might choose to block only icloud.com email addresses on your content download forms—but allow them for your newsletter signup, for example.
Privacy is going to continue to be a major issue for marketers to adapt to. However, brands shouldn’t lose sight of the need to balance the needs of their customers with the needs of their business. If new privacy-driven behaviors threaten the health of your email program, you should not feel bad about protecting it by changing the types of email addresses that your business accepts.