Further proof of the importance of mobile for email marketers is provided by new stats showing that more than a quarter of emails are opened on phones and tablets.

Knotice conducted a study of 974m emails sent in the second half of 2011, and found that mobile open rates had grown from 20.24% in the first half of the year to 27.39% in the second.

The research also provides a useful breakdown of open rates between tablets and mobiles.

Email open rates on mobile

20.63% of emails were opened on smartphones, with 6.76% on tablets, mainly the iPad (6.54% of emails were opened on this device). 

The iPhone and iPad together represented over 22% of all email opens in Q3 and Q4 2011.


Mobile email CTR by industry

The chart shows the ratio of clicks across various industry sectors, as well as showing CTO (click to open rate), the ratio of unique clicks as a percentage of opens.

CTO for both mobile and tablets is best for the consumer products, hospitality and retail sectors, but all tablet and mobile CTOs lag behind that of desktop email.

There is an obvious reason for this: most brands are not yet optimising their email marketing for mobiles, and so the recipient has less reason to click through, and that’s before we consider whether landing pages have also been optimised for mobile.

Stats from our Email Marketing Census 2012 suggest that many need to realise  the opportunity offered by mobile email.

The stats show that a large number of companies do not have any strategy in place for optimising emails for mobile, with 39% reporting this as “non-existent”, and 37% saying their strategy was “basic”.

How well would you describe the extent to which your company has (or clients have) a strategy for optimising email marketing for mobile devices?

In addition, 48% of agency and company respondents were unaware what proportion of emails are opened on mobile devices, which is the first step in deciding whether or not to optimise for emails.

When are people opening emails on mobiles? 

As you might expect open rates for mobile emails are highest during evening, late night and early morning. However, the overall volume of email opens drops around 8PM. 

Three lessons for email marketers

1. Mobile email will continue to grow

The growth of email means that brands without a strategy for optimising emails (and landing pages) for mobile users will be missing an opportunity.

This is more apparent in some sectors. For example, the stats found that 28% of emails from retailers are opened exclusively on mobile.

2. Very few users open emails on multiple devices

The theory that users opening (non-optimised) emails on mobile will simply save them for desktop reading later is not supported by these stats.

In more than 95% of the cases the email open is occurring on only one type of device, which removes one excuse not to optimise for mobile.

3. You need to optimise the whole journey

It’s not just about creating an email which is easy to read on a mobile, you need to make it easy for recipients to act upon the email.

This may be something simple like a voucher code to redeem at a local restaurant, but if you want people to buy something, register etc, then you need a mobile landing page, otherwise optimising the email will have been a waste of time.