Mobile Email has arrived… Are you ready?

Jan 21, 2013 | Posted by

It’s that time of year again here at Inbox Marketer, the time where we look back at the previous year and think about what we want to tackle in 2013. Last year was really exciting for our email business, due in large part to some of the significant shifts we’ve seen in how our clients’ customers view the emails we send. This shift has, of course, come in large part to the acceleration of mobile adoption here in Canada and worldwide.

ComScore data released in September 2012 via gave indication of just how quickly the Canadian smartphone market can change in a year. Most notably, in 2011 the use of smartphones was approximately 46% compared to standard feature phones at 54%. In 2012, we saw the complete opposite happen with continued growth in smartphone use among Canadians.

2011 ComScore MobiLens – Canada, n=5,500, Persons 13+, March 2011 – June 2011 |

The combined increase in smartphone use and changes in device preference (mostly Apple and Android mobile devices) influences many factors in email rendering and readership. Mobile readership is an important trend for digital marketers to closely monitor. In Canada, Inbox Marketer data indicates that over 40% of commercial email messages are now read on a mobile device. Our partners at Return Path indicate a similar trend and their second iteration of their mobile email readership study, which contains data on a much larger scope can be viewed here.

At Inbox Marketer, we have developed our own proprietary mobile tracking tool that allows our customers to gain insight into where their customers are opening the emails they receive through our deployment systems. Our interactive reports show what types of devices recipients are opening on such as, iPhones, Android-powered devices or Personal Computers (PC). It also allows our clients to see which email clients their customers are opening on (i.e. Hotmail, Gmail, Outlook, etc.) As the shift to mobile readership continues into 2013 it will be interesting to see just where and with which email clients recipients prefer to read their emails.

To get a jump on what we predict will be a monumental shift year in the email world, we analyzed our own data to develop a report that analyzed 4 months’ worth of email opens from September to December 2012. We reviewed millions of opens and categorized them as either a Mobile open or Desktop open. A Mobile open was a defined an open on any smartphone such as iPhone, Android powered device, BlackBerry, Symbian as well as tablets like iPad and BlackBerry PlayBooks. Desktop opens are categorized as desktop computers, laptops, Macbooks or iMacs. To gain further insight, we broke our client data into 4 industry categories: Retail, Financial/Insurance, Telecommunications and Inbox overall, which includes averages for all clients combined. The industry sector results were in line with trends we are seeing across all industries and in some cases a higher preference for mobile is being exhibited in the retail category, specifically.

The data indicates incremental increases in mobile readership month-over-month with the most surprising increase coming out of the financial category with a +9% increase in Mobile opens over the four month analysis. As we continue to analyze open data on a monthly basis we will release another quarterly report at the end of March 2013 to see if the trends have continued. Based on a modest trend line, we anticipate that if mobile use continues to gain momentum Mobile opens will surpass Desktop in March 2013. Check out this infographic of our findings and trends (based on aggregated results from over 25 clients with enterprise level email programs; includes Fortune 500).

So what does this mean for your email program? It could mean a lot of changes for any company sending commercial email messages today. Based on the rise of mobile email readership, clients and ESPs will need to more carefully consider message design, delivery and context.  And you’re not too late; there are some immediate areas you can address. If you have haven’t started yet, begin tracking where your customers are opening your emails. Luckily there are lots of tools out there that can help give insight. However, if you are finding that more and more of your subscribers and customers are starting to trend towards opening and reading your messages on a mobile device, perhaps it’s time to consider adjustments in the segmentation, design and context of your message.

For more information on the future of design for mobile email, see our posts on responsive and scalable design for email.

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