There was a fascinating stat on mobile email in an infographic we published on the blog earlier this month: 41% of Europeans would either close or delete an email not optimised for mobile. 

The figure is even higher for US respondents (63%) and Asia Pacific (67%), and underlines the importance of optimising email for mobile devices. 

As more and more emails are opened on mobile devices, email marketers need to learn how to adapt their messages to this channel. 

Here, I look at the stats on mobile email and, using survey data from our Email Marketing Census 2012, how well companies and agencies have adapted to the trend…

Mobile email: the stats

The stats show the growing use of mobiles for opening emails, and the extent to which companies are adapting their email strategies to account for this trend.

Use of mobiles to open emails

There are no definitive stats on this, and the proportion of emails opened on mobiles will vary between companies. For example, Gilt Groupe said recently that half of its emails are opened on mobile.

It seems that, in general, around 15% to 20% of emails are opened on email. It’s also reasonable to assume, based on the growth of the smartphone, that this is an upward trend.  

  • According to comScore67% of smartphone users accessed email through their mobile device in June 2011.
  • Mobile email clients like the iPhone, iPad and Android have grown from 4% of the market to almost 20% in just two years. (CampaignMonitor)
  • According to KnoticeMobile devices accounted for 20.24% of all email opens, a jump of 51% compared to Q4 2010. 
  • Knotice also found that just 3.09% of the sample of 701m emails were opened on both mobile device and desktop . Of that 3.09%, only one-third were opened on a mobile device first, then viewed on a desktop device later.
  • According to Return Path stats from 2011, 16% of emails are opened on mobile devices

Return Path’s stats show our data shows an 81% growth in the accessing of email via a mobile device. That growth has mainly come at the expense of webmail access, with desktop use remaining steady. 

What if emails aren’t optimised for mobile? 

Whereas many marketers may assume that recipients would simply wait and read emails not optimised for mobile when they are in front of their laptop or PC, a recent e-Dialog study tells a different story. 

29% of Europeans would read emails later on a laptop or PC, but 41% would delete or forget about the email. 

That’s a huge missed opportunity for email marketers, and APAC and US recipients take an even harder line. 49% of US and 50% of APAC email recipients would just delete. 

Are marketers aware of the opportunities? 

Stats from our Email Marketing Census 2012 suggest that many need to wise up to the opportunity. 

The stats show that a large number of companies do not have any strategy in place for this, 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?

48% of agency and company respondents are unaware what proportion of emails are opened on mobile devices, which means they can’t even assess the opportunity to begin with. 

What proportion of emails you send are read on mobile devices?

Case studies

British Airways/e-Dialog

Last year’s winning Innovation Awards entry from e-Dialog and British Airways shows the importance of optimising emails for mobile devices, and the results that can be achieved by doing this.  

First of all, BA’s database was used to determine which recipients were opening emails using mobile, and which device they used. 

Then four different emails were created, for desktop, iPhone, Android and Blackberry, so that recipients could have the best version of the email for their phone. 

The results were impressive, with open rates for mobile exceeding those for desktop users, in excess of 50% for iPhone and Android devices. The CTR was 25% for users who accessed email on their iPhone and in excess of 30% for BlackBerry users.

The campaign generated over 250,000 downloads, more than double the targeted number, and more than 70,000 clicks to Approximately 200,000 downloads came from the Apple App Store, 50,000 on BlackBerry and 7,000 on Android.

STYLECampaign / SavvyMoms

In this case study, STYLECampaign designed mobile optimised welcome emails for SavvyMoms, learning from data which found that 78% of ‘moms’ use email on their smartphones. 

SavvyMoms had mobile usage of more than 20%, so designing for email made sense. The case study shows the three different versions designed for mobiles. 

The first email in this series saw a 3x lift in click-to-open rate, and 12% of those who opened the redesigned email on a mobile clicked, compared to 6% who opened on the desktop that clicked.


It’s clear that the growth of mobile email usage presents a challenge for marketers, and the first step is to identify the proportion of your emails which are opened on mobile. 

The next step is to check what your emails look like on these devices. As Tamara Gielen of Plan to Engage said in our Email Census: 

If the percentage of mobile readers is below 5%, then I would just make sure that your emails are readable on a mobile device, once you see the number of mobile readers is above 20%, I would consider seriously adapting your email templates.

For more on mobile email best practice, I’ve asked industry experts about the importance of optimising for smartphones, and the design considerations.