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March 2012

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Mobile Email Grows: Predictions & Recommendations

By Greg Olson

A recent report from ReturnPath brought up some interesting points which I have shared in this post. I have daily conversations with companies about how they should consider mobile devices when communicating with their customers and prospects. The following includes a few predictions and recommendations. 

Mobile platforms are gaining ground when it comes to email viewership with a 34% increase since our last study which looked at data from October 2010 through March 2011. Webmail is still the most popular platform for reading email, but mobile is showing huge growth rates whereas webmail and desktop decreased by 11% and nearly 9.5%, respectively.

Where email is viewed is heavily influenced by when it is viewed, with desktop ruling the weekdays and mobile spiking on the weekends.

iPad Use:
The use of the iPad for viewing email has exploded with a 73% increase in email opens.

If you are viewing email with installed software on a desktop, you are viewing it in Outlook or Apple Mail. All other platforms combined make up a tiny share of the total desktop views.

More, more, more. We think this number will just keep going up as iPads continue to proliferate. The email interface is pretty slick and definitely increases the consumption of email on the go. 

When you consider your mobile design strategy, don’t forget about tablets. While they offer a lot more options than the small screen of a smartphone, they are still different enough from a desktop or webmail environment to require some thought. Testing your designs on all the platforms that matter to your audience is key to success. 

Email is read everywhere and mobile is growing:
Where is Email Most Often Read?  It might be a little hard to believe given all the ink that gets spilled covering the mobile revolution, but webmail continues to be the dominant platform for email use, followed by desktop and mobile devices.
While mobile still represents the smallest piece of the email open pie, it is showing a pattern of increasing usage that is impossible to ignore. In fact, Return Path data shows that email opens on mobile devices is up by 34% from April 2011 through September 2011, as compared 

Email is an important business tool, so some combination of desktop and webmail use is likely to remain dominant well into 2012. But the number of people who opt for smartphones increases each quarter, meaning email viewership on these devices will continue to grow. Add in the iPad and we predict that mobile viewership number will tick up by a measurable amount by the end of 2012.

Benchmarks are great for understanding the shifts in the market, but your company’s marketing strategy should be dictated by specific data on your subscribers. Figure out where they are viewing email so you can send them relevant messages. Relevance is about more than just content. 

The Smart Marketer’s Checklist:
These are good tips to consider as you discuss marketing strategies with your company.
1. Email is everywhere you want your message to be: The clear message of this study is that email use is not declining as consumers gain access to more devices that encourage email consumption. People are now relying on getting email in more places and on more devices than ever before.

2. The medium is the medium: You know how anyone born after 1981 looks at you funny when you talk about cable vs. broadcast (“It’s just TV!”)? Well pretty soon the same will be said for trying to differentiate between mobile and email. Yes, text messages are different, but the proliferation of smartphones means that SMS isn’t the only way to message on the go. Today’s users are “always on” when it comes to email – and they expect you to be too.

3. Data is more valuable than guesses: Trying to manage your marketing strategy based on hunches is rarely a recipe for success. You need data to make informed decisions – and not just the kind of market share data that you can find in benchmark reports like this one. You need to know where and how your audience accesses your email and other content. Depending on the demographics that you are targeting, your penetration of mobile usage could be dramatically different than what you see in industry reports.

4. Don’t discount the desk: As exciting as mobile devices are, plenty of people spend long stretches of their day at an office or in a cubicle, interacting with email through Outlook or on webmail platforms. Don’t get so enamored with your on-the-go strategies that you forget the people who are behind-the-desk. It’s important to know your audience and how, where and when they interact with your messages.

5.  Change is the new status quo: Think about this – when the iPad launched it was ridiculed in the tech press as silly, unnecessary and unlikely to be interesting to consumers. A year later Apple has sold millions of them and they are changing how and where consumers interact with both email and the web. Two years from now we could be talking about yet another new platform or device that hasn’t even been imagined yet.
Like the Boy Scout motto – Be Prepared – and plan for change. 
Contact Growl to make sure your prepared for the mobile communication future.

Greg is the founder of Growl - a mobile and social marketing company.  He has worked in the marketing field for the past 20 years in everything from industrial products to medical devices.  He currently serves on the BMA National Board of Directors as VP of Chapter Development. Greg is a seasoned speaker and workshop presenter helping attendees gain a clear picture on how to use mobile and social marketing in their business. Contact Greg at

(Editor’s Note: Emma Email Marketing is a leading national email marketing company with offices in Denver that will create, send and track your emails and surveys. Lights! Camera! Email? was published in February 2012 as a Blog on their website at It is being reprinted with permission from Emma.)

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