Mobile's share of email up 81% since October 2010: survey

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The share of emails accessed via mobile devices increased by 81% from October 2010 to March 2011, according to a survey released by Return Path on May 17.

“I think what really surprised us is the very rapid growth in mobile as a proportion of all platforms," said Bryan Dreller, senior product manager at Return Path, an email certification and security company. "I don't think we expected to see that in just a six-month period; mobile viewership relative to its peers would nearly double,”

Sixteen percent of emails were accessed via mobile devices in March 2011, up from 9.2% last October, according to the survey. Mobile's share trailed webmail, which saw 48% of all emails accessed in March, and that of desktop (36%), although the shares of webmail and desktop did drop 4% and 2%, respectively, from October 2010.

Dreller added that the survey is biased against feature phones because it only measured emails containing images, which are often unable to render emailed images. The “Email on the Move: The Future of Mobile Messaging” survey examined more than 130 million email opens sent by more than 90 of the firm's clients.

Mobile eats into desktop's share of opens as the week progresses, peaking over the weekend along with the share of webmail. Desktop's share falls more than 3% on Sundays, whereas mobile's share increases by 1.15% on Saturdays and webmail's jumps by 2.5% on Sundays.

During the workweek, mobile and webmail each cede market share to desktop, which peaks with a 2.7% share increase on Wednesdays versus webmail's nearly 2% drop on the same day.

Dreller said the findings align with assumptions that consumers are most likely to access email via personal devices over the weekend. He said marketers could use the insights to inform their segmentation practices, by targeting opted-in consumers according to platform and day of week.

“I think [this information] starts empowering marketers to focus and fine-tune each email that goes out the door to be custom-catered to the habits and behaviors of [consumers],” he said.

Return Path did not report tablet access separately from that of mobile, but the firm did see a 15% share increase to 18.8% in email access via the Apple iPad when compared with other Apple devices running the iOS mobile operating system.

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