In November 2010, the number of visitors to web-based email sites declined 6% compared to the previous year, while email engagement declined at an even greater rate, according to new comScore MobiLens data. However, during the same time period, the number of users accessing email via their mobile devices grew by 36%.
Fewer Americans Spend Less Time with Web-based Email
comScore analysis of web-based email trends revealed that fewer Americans visited web-based email destinations and spent less time doing so in 2010 as compared to 2009. In November 2010, more than 153 million people visited web-based email providers, decreasing 6% from the previous year.
In terms of engagement, overall time spent in the email category declined 9%, while total pages viewed dropped 15%. Despite such declines, however, it comScore advises that email remains one of the most popular activities on the web, reaching more than 70% of the US online population each month.
Youth, Males Lose Most Interest in Web-based Email
comScore analysis of email users’ demographic characteristics revealed that young users (ages 12-17) showed the sharpest decline in usage during the past year. The number of visitors from this age segment declined 24%, while engagement fell by half as total minutes decreased 48% and total pages dropped 53 percent. Engagement also declined in smaller percentages among users in age brackets covering 18-54, as a general shift in email behavior was evident across most segments.
In contrast, usage increased among those 55 and older. The number of 55-64-year-olds accessing web-based email increased 15% with similar gains in engagement, while those age 65 and up experienced gains across all three metrics as well.
When looking at email usage among males and females, males displayed a more dramatic decline in usage than females, with total email minutes falling 12% for males compared to 7% among females.
Americans Mobilize for Email
While web-based email has witnessed a general decline during the past year, comScore analysis indicates email usage via mobile devices has experienced significant growth, driven largely by increased smartphone adoption.
In November 2010, 70.1 million mobile users (30% of all mobile subscribers) accessed email on their mobile devices, an increase of 36% from the previous year. Daily usage of email showed an even greater increase, growing 40% as 43.5 million users turned to their mobile devices for email.
Youth, Males Gain Most Interest in Mobile Email
Accessing mobile email increased by double-digits across all age segments between November 2009 and November 2010. Younger age groups showed a higher probability of accessing email from their mobile devices compared to older segments.
Mobile users age 25-34 were 60% more likely to access email than an average mobile user, with those between the ages of 18-24 being 46% more likely to do so, representing the two age segments with the highest propensity. Overall, males were 14% more likely to be users of mobile email than females.
Email Use Rises Short-Term, Declines Long-Term
Some industry observers have speculated that the increasing popularity of email alternatives such as texting and social networking will put a damper on email usage. CompetePRO data offers mixed analytics on email performance, which generally declined between October 2009 and October 2010 but generally increased between September 2010 and October 2010.
For example, unique visitors to the top 60 email sites dropped about 3.3% between October 2009 and October 2010, from 136.4 million to 131.8 million. However, on a month-over-month basis, unique email visitors rose 4.25% from about 126.5 million.
Similarly, total year-over-year visits fell 16%, from 2.86 million to 2.39 million, but rose 11.7% month-over-month from 2.14 million. Year-over-year page views fell 20% year-over-year, from 17.85 million to 14.26 million, but grew 32.2% month-over-month from 10.79 million.
And total time spent in minutes fell almost 21% year-over-year, from 21 billion to 16.7 billion, but rose about 20% month-over-month from almost 14 billion. Attention (total percentage of online time spent on the top 60 email sites) shrank about 20% year-over-year, from about 4.5% to 3.6%, but climbed 13% month-over-month from 3.2%.