Almost 10% of consumers use a smartphone or tablet as the primary device for checking email, according to a new survey by the DMA.

This suggests that desktop clients should still be the most important focus for marketers, however it doesn’t take into account the number of people who check or prioritise their emails on mobile.

Stats published in May shows that more than a third of consumers (36%) read marketing emails on mobile, rising to 55% among 18-34 year olds. 

A separate study found that 33% of respondents said that they use their mobile to screen emails before reading them later on a desktop.

Data from the DMA’s survey also shows that 39% of respondents open emails from trusted brands using their mobile, while 36% would save it to read later on their desktop, so it’s important that brands are optimising email content and subject lines for mobile.

However, in our Email Marketing Census 2012, sponsored by Adestra, 39% of companies said their mobile email strategy was “non-existent” and 37% said their strategy was “basic”.

Almost half (48%) said they didn’t know what proportion of emails they send are read on mobile devices.

For tips on how to optimise your email campaigns, check out our blog posts on best practices for mobile email design and a few words of advice from dotMailer’s Tink Taylor.

Email signups

The DMA report shows that around half (49%) of respondents are signed up to receive emails from between one and 10 brands. 

Therefore the main challenge for email marketers isn’t trying to be heard among competing brands, but getting into the inbox in the first place.

There are several tactics that brands can use to encourage consumers to signup to email alerts, including explicitly highlighting the value of the emails through testimonials or a clear statement of subscription benefits, and using a clear signup process.

However there are also underlying factors that the signup process alone cannot overcome.

For example, although the main reasons consumers signup for emails are for offers/sales (61%) and discounts (59%), other important factors include being a regular customer (42%) and liking the brand (40%). 

To take advantage of the loyalty factors, brands should consider adding email opt-in forms during the checkout process on their websites or on blogs posts or videos that generally require strong visitor engagement.

Relevancy and segmentation

Email relevancy has stayed consistent with the results from 2011 and tracks well above the dark days of 2010.

The number of recipients finding more than half of marketing emails relevant or interesting was 29% in 2012 and 30% last year, whereas in 2010 around 50% of respondents said that fewer than 20% of emails were relevant. 

The increase in relevancy may be in part due to brands improving their segmentation methods. Our Email Marketing Census shows that 67% of companies carry out basic segmentation, although only 19% said they used advanced segmentation.

Also, lack of segmentation (45%) and the quality of the email database (53%) were cited as two of the main barriers to effective email marketing.

So there is still room for improvement, which should also further improve the relevancy of consumer emails. For more information on this topic, read our blog post on the dos and don’ts of email segmentation.

Data from the DMA's report came from a consumer survey of 1,043 UK respondents. Results were reweighted by age and gender to give a statistical confidence level of +/- 2.45%. 

David Moth

Published 26 October, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (6)

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Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

When you look at response rates and the effectiveness of Email Marketing, it's surprising why organisations don't put more effort into it. In many cases, an organisation would be better off improving their email efforts before launching into a full-blown Social Media campaign.

It would also be interesting to see how many people sign up a brand via Email AND Social Media. Or, in other words, how much overlap there is between the two methods of communication?

over 5 years ago

Jeremy Spiller

Jeremy Spiller, MD at Econsultancy Guest Access TRAININGSmall Business Multi-user

Excellent post loaded with good stuff. I recently read that a large percentage of 19 year olds don't use email at all. I think it was some French research that found this. Check this out.

Here's a quote from the article 'They put on the table the fact that most of the young people that we were hiring were not using email anymore after graduating from universities.'

Also just carried out a search to find the article and came across this very recent item from the Guardian.

I do wonder whether there's a new Gen Z that will not use email at all, or if they do will use it in an entirely different way that most people use it today.

Email as a technology is currently very broken, wastes two hours of people's time every day on average and more than 80% of global email is spam, a problem which Governments, software companies and IPs have been wresting with for 17 years and which is still blighting the interweb.

Email needs to be fixed (much stronger AI built in that determines priority and progressively 'learns' about the user and preferences without being told would be a good start) or alternatives used.

With the growth of mobile and multiple device usage, this is now more urgent than ever before.

over 5 years ago


Elazar Gilad, SEO at Dataworks

A great article. As I see it the use of mobile devices will become bigger in the next years to come.

over 5 years ago

John Waghorn

John Waghorn, Content Marketer at Koozai Ltd

It’s great that both mobile and tablet have enabled us to check our email whilst on the move. This is more relevant to those in business who always need to be connected, as obviously they can’t take their desktops with them around the world. Although this figure isn’t huge at present, it does give us an indication of possible trends for the future.

Email is still arguably one of the dominant ways we all stay connected and probably will be for some time to come, it’s a simple and efficient way of getting in contact with people and that’s the reason for its longevity. Marketers need to be utilising email to its full potential to really draw in consumers. Once that initial contact has been made, it’s a lot easier for businesses to stay connected with their customers and build on what they have.

over 5 years ago


Nick Charles

As android continues to take over the smartphone market so Gmail will be ever more be used quickly and easily on the move. This use crosses all demographics just as Gmail does and the same might be true of hotmail and Microsoft 8 phones but much further in the future.
Interesting comment about the French youth not using email, I can see facebook and twitter being an outlet for the personal contacts required by people but for business I think email will remain supreme for quite a while.

over 5 years ago


Matt Potter, Product and Proposition Director (Digital), Experian Marketing Services

Interesting stats – and completely indicative of the current landscape for email marketers today and the need to integrate mobile into the wider marketing mix. What will be telling is how this figure will change once we see the true impact of 4G come to fruition; we expect to see a fundamental change in the way we consume content on mobiles and email will be a key factor here.

With the rise of 4G, we expect to see email become even more immediate and engaging as the previous limitations of speed, location and efficiency become much less of an issue. Users will be more open to engaging with brands on their personal devices as the increased bandwidth frees up time spent on page loads and downloads. Email will be a key benefactor here and I’d be keen to see these statistics again in twelve months’ time and see how this balance has shifted.

over 5 years ago

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