Mobile Email Opens Top Desktop, Webmail

As Web workers, we knew the time would come when email open rates on mobile devices surpassed their desktop counterpart. A lot of us, however, didn't know it would be this soon. 


Findings from Return Path's newest mobile email report made it official. The email intelligence company found users in the U.S. and Canada largely check email from their phones. In fact, after examining nearly 1.8 billion data points from April 2012 through October 2012, Return Path found 38 percent of U.S. users opened emails on smartphones, as opposed to 31 percent on Webmail and 31 percent on desktop. 


Interestingly, the report also states that user prefer to open retail emails on their smartphones (40 percent), consumer products (40 percent) and real estate (38 percent), while banking emails are mostly opened from desktop email clients (60 percent) like Outlook.


"The data shows a clear opportunity for marketers who take audience device and platform preference into consideration when leveraging the email channel.  Using analytics to gather email intelligence can tell marketers when and where resources should be invested into a mobile marketing strategy to maximize their budget," said Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path. "Marketers who rely on open rates, without incorporating more sophisticated ways to evaluate campaign success, stand to lose significant revenue."


Additionally, email marketing campaigns not optimized for both mobile and desktop are missing out on valuable opportunities. Fortunately, there are some "golden rules" to mobile optimized email.


Return Path also uncovered data that suggests mobile behavior varies depending on the smartphone operating system.


  • More Apple users are using their devices to open and read email than any other group, with the iPad seeing more growth in email opens when compared to the iPhone; the release of the iPad Mini should further increase its share of opens
  • Windows Mobile saw an 85 percent increase in email opens since Return Path's April 2012 report, but still only comprise 0.3 percent of total email opens on smartphones

Return Path's infograph is available here