54% of Email Is Now Open On Mobile Devices, Apple Users Are More Email Friendly Than Android [REPORT]

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It is a well-known fact that we are now living in the “smartphone era”. The smartphone revolution has come and gone, and now it is characterised by its near-universal ubiquity. As we reported earlier, Google’s Android OS has overtaken Microsoft’s Windows as the internet’s most used operating system. Mobile continues to flourish and grow around its app-based ecosystem. The influence of mobile is now so great that it affects practically any internet based undertaking. One of the most affected industries as a result of this paradigm shift is the email marketing industry. A new report by Litmus on the “2017 State Of Email” drives home this fact and highlights some critical trends in this industry.

Let us analyse the facts and their consequences in detail.

The Rise Of Email On Mobile

With the introduction of the smartphone and the advancements in wireless technologies such as 3G and 4G, mobile devices have become the most popular gateway for internet browsing. This also reflected in the evolving philosophy of website design to cater to the ever growing mobile crowd. The percentage of mobile-friendly websites has gone up from 74% in June 2014 to 93% in June 2016. This shift to mobile has also occurred in users’ email viewing habits. The Litmus report finds that 54% of email is now opened on mobile devices, followed by webmail at 30% and desktop trailing last at 16%. This is amply demonstrated by the popularity of mobile email clients.

The top email clients in 2016 were unchanged from the previous year, and the dominance of mobile is clearly visible once again. With 1% point increase from the previous year, Apple iPhone led the pack with a 33% share in 2016. It was followed by Gmail (20%) and Apple iPad (13%). All three experienced growth in market share too. Desktop email clients such as Outlook fared worse in comparison, experiencing a decline in market share to close at 6% at the end of 2016.

Top email clients 2016

This trend is expected to hold, with the Radicati Group forecasting over 2.8 billion worldwide email users by the end of 2018. Also, by 2018, nearly 80% of email users are expected to access their email on mobile devices only.

The Growing Need For Mobile-Aware Email Design

With the increasing adoption of mobile devices for email viewing, it is clear that there is an increase in requirement for mobile-centric email design. However, now, a mobile-centric design is no longer just a luxury; it has now become a necessity.

Nearly 51% of consumers report that they unsubscribe from a brand’s promotional emails if their emails/website doesn’t work well on mobile. Moreover, 43% of consumers mark promotional emails from a brand as spam if they don’t work well on mobile. This is even worse, as it leads to a higher occurrence of spam complaints.

It is obvious that companies are realising just how important mobile email has now become. The percentage of B2C brands using mobile-aware designs for their emails nearly doubled from 15% in 2015 to 27% in 2016. Consequently, the percentage of desktop-centric emails nearly halved from 43% in 2015 to 23% in 2016. Companies are now focusing on optimising emails for mobile, with new design philosophies focusing on “tapping” rather than “clicking, shorter email length, single column design, larger font sizes for enhanced readability on smaller screens and the adoption of responsive email design.

The Surprising Growth of Webmail

One of the more surprising trends of the report was the considerable growth of webmail’s market share. This growth has primarily been powered by Google and Outloook.com. Gmail’s market share rose from 16% in 2015 to 20% in 2016. Outlook.com’s share rose from 2% to 5% during the same period. Meanwhile, Yahoo! Mail’s share depreciated to 2% by the end of 2016. The primary reason for this growth is likely attributed to Google and Microsoft’s new cloud-based email services. These services are slowly replacing desktop email clients such as Outlook on machines, contributing to desktop email’s decline.

email open rate on Webmail 2016

The biggest driver of growth for webmail is undoubtedly Gmail, with over a 1 billion monthly active users and still growing.

Actionable Insights

  • The majority of the world’s email is now viewed on mobile, highlighting the need for mobile-aware email design templates.
  • Consumers do not appreciate poor mobile design, leading to cancelled subscriptions and spam reports. This is of special significance since 8 out of 10 users will exclusively use their mobile device for viewing emails by 2018.
  • Webmail continues to experience growth in market share due to innovations such as cloud-based services.
  • A change in email design philosophy is needed, with a heavier focus on mobile-centric features such as a touch optimised interface, larger fonts, shorter email lengths and the adoption of responsive email design.


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