Where, When, and How Subscribers Are Interacting with Email

The ever-changing email landscape makes it more important than ever to understand where, when and how subscribers are interacting with email. Return Path provides these insights in our latest report—The Email Client Experience. Here are a few highlights to help you optimize your program.

The move to mobile
Since our last email client study back in 2012, the way users interact with email has changed significantly. The widespread adoption of smartphones has increased our ability to access email, with 44 percent of the world’s population owning a smartphone in 2017. As a result, mobile usage has increased 26 percent since 2012, while desktop use has decreased by 18 percent.

Key takeaway: Although mobile accounts for over half of global emails opens, webmail and desktop collectively represent 44 percent. That’s why it is still important to ensure your email creative renders correctly across viewing environments. Subscribers will not engage with messages that are difficult to view or navigate.

The rise of Gmail
A lot can happen in 5 years. In 2012, Yahoo mail dominated webmail service, with Hotmail in second place and Gmail in a distant third place. Fast forward to 2017, and Gmail’s share of webmail email opens has increased 53 percent, while Yahoo now sees just five percent of total webmail opens.

Key takeaway: While Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook and Yahoo represent the global majority of email clients in use, there are a number of additional email clients in use around the world. It’s important to determine which email clients the majority of your subscribers are using and optimize your campaigns to reach the inboxes most relevant to your file.

Abandoned, skimmed, read
Since 2012, the inbox has become increasingly crowded. Today, the average consumer receives over 500 marketing messages in a given month! But how much time do subscribers spend viewing their email? To find out, we analyzed email dwell time data from Return Path’s Email Client Monitor, which classifies the amount of time subscribers spend viewing an email into one of three categories: abandoned, skimmed and read.

The good news for marketers is that the majority of email messages are being read. From December 2016-April 2017, 61 percent of emails were read, regardless of viewing environment. However, messages were much more likely to be fully read on mobile (64 percent) than desktop (45 percent). Conversely, skimming is fairly consistent across viewing environments, with 22 percent of messages skimmed on average. Also worth noting is the abandonment rate. While the average rate for abandoned emails was 17 percent, emails were abandoned on desktop at double the rate of mobile messages.

Key takeaway: As email volume and competition for the inbox continues to increase, it’s important to make sure your message content is resonating with subscribers. As mailbox providers increasingly consider subscriber engagement for filtering, you should also consider how you measure engagement. For example, open rate doesn’t necessarily tell you whether subscribers are truly engaged with your email content. But knowing how long subscribers spend viewing your messages provides insight into whether your content kept subscriber attention.

Staying a step ahead
How users access email is constantly shifting, so we’ve launched a new microsite: We Know Email Clients.

In this microsite, we compare the breakdown of email opens between mobile, webmail and desktop based on data from Return Path’s Email Client Monitor. Each month the site will be up dated so you have access to the most recent benchmarks to compare with your own program data. Be sure to bookmark it and come back for the new stats!



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