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Apple has rolled out a new feature that allows people anytime they have to give their email on a website to hide their email. It’s called hide my email and it’s available from iPhone, iPad and Macs.
Hide my email is currently an Apple-specific feature, but that doesn’t mean that other browsers and services won’t copy it at some point. There are already chrome extensions that offer the feature as well. I cannot vouch for them as I have not tried them.
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How does hide my email work?
In browsers on Apple devices, users get the option to add their pre-filled email address or add a randomly generated one that then forwards messages to their actual address.
Once you click hide my email, you’ll get an email immediately letting you know what that email is. You don’t have to write it down for anything, and it’s really just the email the company on the other end sees. It automatically forwards to your actual email.
This does work in Safari on my iPad. But it doesn’t work in every app – including the Twitter email sign-up form. The feature also doesn’t work if it can’t tell that a specific field is asking for an email. I’ve seen some forms that visually ask for an email. But they are somehow coded so that Safari can’t tell what the specific personal information is that it’s asking for.
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Are people using hide my email?
I don’t see it pop up all that much in email lists quite yet. But of course, that doesn’t mean people use it. For example, I use it all the time on new sites.
I also looked at the last batch of sign-ups to my email list to see if any of them used what appears to be a hide my email email address. None of them did, and all had an email domain that I could recognize and the names didn’t look randomized.
Read next: Why your email domain must have a working website behind it
What can corporate marketers do about hide my email?
Of course, it always depends on the goal. If the sign-up form is for a blog newsletter, why does it matter if we know who the subscribers are? Just keep sending them the blog articles, and at some point, if they’re ready to buy something from you, they raise their hand.
Email expert Matthew Vernhout said the same when he gave us an update on email marketing.
People who try to sign up for a product demo or trying to buy something usually have to give way more personal information than just an email. So even if they use hide my email in that scenario you’ll still know who they are to an extent.
Plus, I’m not sure why I would hide my email with companies I have an established relationship with. For example, I’m not going to log into my Amazon account and change my email address.
One thing to keep in mind, that if companies sell email lists the end-user can tell who is the original company that sold it.
You can also use web tracking tools like webinsights.com to get an idea of who is on your website.
Email rules still apply
Apple hide my email or not, email marketing rules as outlined by Chad White in “Email Marketing Rules” like the following still apply:
- You need permission to email
- Permission can be revoked
- Make unsubscribing easy
At the end of the day, the reason we need tools like this one as consumers is that companies have used and abused our emails. It wouldn’t be necessary if communications are wanted and relevant.
I’m not worried about the hide my email feature from a marketing perspective, but it’s super useful as a consumer.