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Understanding Email Experience Trends: Return Path's Annual Analysis


Thanks to affordability and accessibility to modern technology, your subscribers can access your emails on a variety of their devices, the most popular being mobile, webmail, and desktop. Return Path recently published a report delving into where people are reading emails, the environment in which people were opening those emails, and how much time subscribers spend reading emails. Below are two of the top takeaways from the report.

Top Takeaways: WHERE

  • From May 2016 to April 2017, 55% of people globally were accessing emails via mobile devices. This rate was fairly consistent over a 12-month period and nearly doubled the 28% of people that most often read emails on webmail, and the 16% that most often read email on desktop browsers (such as Yahoo and Gmail).

  • Of those reading emails on mobile devices, nearly 57% of readers were using an iPhone iOS device, while 22% used an Apple iPad and 20% used an Android, giving Apple iOS products 79% of the market share.

  • Of webmail email opens, Gmail is the leader over competitors Outlook/Hotmail, Yahoo mail, and others. Gmail accounted for 59% of users, while Outlook/Hotmail garnered 18% of users and Yahoo only 5%.

  • Amongst fierce competition, two desktop email systems stood out to email users – Apple Mail and Outlook. From May 2016 to April 2017, Apple Mail was the most used desktop email client with about half of the desktop email client market share, or about 50% over Outlook’s 41%. This is a stark difference from 2012, when Outlook captivated 68% of market share over Apple’s 29%, reflecting the rising popularity of Apple products.

Top Takeaways: WHEN

  • According to the study, desktop email opens most often occurred during the workweek and mobile opens most often occurred over the weekends. This correlates to traditional employment trends where readers are often situated in front of a computer on business days, and are more likely to be on their smartphone or tablet over the weekend.

  • From December 2016 to May 2017, Return Path made three categories to asses how long subscribers spent reading emails: abandoned, skimmed, and read. For those considered “read” (longer than seven seconds), there was no optimal day of the week, though readers were more likely to read the email if using a mobile device, compared to desktop or webmail. “Skimmed” emails were consistent across all days of the week, meaning users spent between two and seven seconds reading. “Abandoned” emails (reading for two or less seconds) occurred most frequently on desktop devices.

The where/when analysis informs wise email marketers of how to seize the opportunity to reach subscribers using the world’s largest digital communication platform. Over the past five years, the widespread adoption of smart technology has exponentially increased accessibility to your email. It is more important than ever to understand how subscribers are interacting with email and optimizing your email campaigns with a strong eye towards mobile devices, particularly Apple products.