More Emails Being Opened On Mobiles Than Through Browser-Based Webmail

December 12, 2012

4 in 10 emails sent are now being read on a mobile device, says Return Path in a new report, up 300% in the past 2 years alone. In fact, that 38% of email opens in the US now occurring on a mobile device surpasses the share of opens using a webmail account on a browser (31%) and via email desktop clients (also 31%). 

The report finds that some industries have a higher incidence of mobile email opens than others. Retail (40%), consumer product (38%) and real estate (38%) have the highest rate of mobile opens, while on the other end of the spectrum, 60% of banking-related emails are opened on desktops. The researchers suggest this is likely for security reasons.

Still, it’s clear that emails are being checked on multiple devices on a daily basis. In the US, 79% use email daily on a desktop, and a rival 73% check their emails daily on a mobile device. The 73% checking email daily on a mobile device in the US outstrips other countries, such as France (62%), the UK (62%), Germany (60%), Brazil (57%), and Australia (57%).

Canada is the only other country of the 7 examined that sees a higher share of opens occurring on a mobile device (37%) than via webmail (34%) or desktop client (29%).

Apple Devices: 85% Of Mobile Opens

When it comes to which mobile devices are being used to open emails, Apple is clearly dominant. Apple devices accounted for 85% of all mobile opens, with the iPhone holding 59% share and the iPad 26% share (up 8% year-over-year).

Android’s share of opens increased by 3% year-over-year, but remained at a fairly low 14% share, while the Windows Phone saw a more rapid increase of 85%, but accounted for a fractional 0.3% share.

Mobile Email Opens Soar During Thanksgiving Period

The increasing popularity of checking email on mobiles (particularly for retail) was also seen by Knotice [pdf], which tracked the open rates for 2.85 million commercial emails sent by retailers from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2012 to midnight on Cyber Monday (November 20-26, 2012).

During that period (which Knotice calls “Cyber Week”), almost 45% of emails sent were opened on a mobile device (phones and/or tablets), up about 50% from the same period in 2011. Mobile phones accounted for 28.2% share of retail email opens, while tablets accounted for another 16.5% share. Once again, the iPhone (28.9%) and the iPad (15.8%) were the clear leaders, with Android phones (4.2%) and tablets (0.6%) contributing less than 5% share of total email opens.

Despite this increase, though, click activity was healthier on desktops than on mobile devices. While mobile phones held 28% share of opens, they accounted for 19.4% of clicks. Similarly, tablets’ share of email clicks (11.5%) was lower than their share of opens (16.4%). That left only desktops over-performing, with 69.1% share of clicks compared to 55.7% share of opens.

Other Findings:

  • According to Return Path, more Americans purchase on smartphones while at home or at work than when they are on the go. At home, they can be found making purchases while lying in bed, using the bathroom, or during a meal with others.
  • Knotice found steady use of mobile devices during the day and the night during “Cyber Week,” with less drop during the workday as previously seen. That may be partly due to the many Americans who planned to shop from the office on Cyber Monday.
  • Click-to-open rates (CTOR) were higher on desktops (17.8%) than on tablets (10.1%) and mobile phones (10%) during “Cyber Week,” found Knotice.
  • The 28.2% share of retail email opens occurring on a mobile phone was a 27% rise from the same period in 2011, while the 16.5% share of opens on a tablet was roughly double the share from 2011.

About the Data: Return Path analyzed data from its email intelligence tools that track which platforms and email software programs subscribers use to open emails. For its study, it examined nearly 1.8 billion data points from April 2012 through October 2012.

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