The proportion of email opened on mobile devices reached 41% in the second half of 2012 and is on course to surpass desktop by the end of this year.
The findings, which come from a report by Knotice, show that smartphones now make up 29% of the total while tablets account for 12%.
This increased from 26% and 11% respectively in the first half of 2012.
And despite the increasing dominance of Google’s Android operating system, iOS devices account for the vast majority of mobile email opens.
Of the 29% of email viewed on smartphones, iPhones account for 22% compared to 6% on Android, while iPads account for a massive 11.4% of the 12.1% opened on tablets.
There is no longer a debate over whether brands need to begin the process of optimising email for mobile, though the speed with which it needs to be implemented will vary from business to business.
A recent survey from Nielsen found that 68% of UK smartphone owners used their device to check email in the previous 30 days. Only text messaging was more popular (92%), while using the mobile web (66%) and social networking (63%) achieved similar results.
US smartphone owners exhibit similar behaviours, with 86% using their devices for text, 82% for the mobile web, 75% for email and 63% for social networking.
However our Email Marketing Census reveals that 39% of businesses have no strategy in place for mobile optimisation and a further 37% said their strategy was ‘basic.’
Furthermore, our Marketing Budgets 2013 Report found that only 36% of businesses plan to invest in mobile optimised email this year. This puts it behind mobile apps (47%), QR codes (45%) and mobile search (39%) in terms of priority.
Which of the following mobile channels or technologies do you plan to use in 2013?
Breaking the results from Knotice down by industry, the sectors that achieve the highest mobile open rates are consumer services (50%), hospitality (44%) and cable and telecommunications (40%). And while some categories are levelling out, others saw strong gains.
Categories such as consumer products (36.22%, up from 29.60%), cable and telecoms (40.35%, up from 35.85%), consumer services (50.29%, up from 42.17%) and hospitality (44.18%, up from 34.35%) saw significant increases in mobile open rates when compared to the first half of 2012.
Knotice’s report also includes stats which debunk a commonly held assertion that consumers use their mobile to check through emails before revisiting them on desktop.
Looking at emails from retail businesses, a mere 2% of messages are opened on more than one device. This suggests that if users see an enticing subject line they want to be able to act on it immediately, which is an extremely compelling argument for optimising email for mobile devices.
Knotice’s report is based on a composite cross sampling of approximately 500 million emails sent across 11 industry segments in the last six months of 2012.