Marketers Need to Embrace Changing Email Habits

Return Path, the world’s leading email certification and reputation monitoring company, today announced the findings from its “Email on the Move: The Future of Mobile Messaging” study. The study examines where, when and how email is most often read across webmail, desktop and mobile platforms, underscoring the critical importance of sending the right message at the right time for the emerging tablet user community.

The study finds an explosive 81% growth in mobile email viewership. While mobile email viewership is expected to continue to increase, webmail and desktop viewership isn’t going away. People are consuming email anywhere and everywhere they are – at home, in the office and on the road. The leading platform for viewing email is webmail with 48% of the total. Desktop use is a little more than 36% of views with mobile access coming in around 16%. When it comes to desktop access, Outlook (with all versions of that platform combined) owns 63% of the views. The 81% growth in the accessing of email via a mobile device comes at the expense of webmail access, with desktop use remaining steady.

Not surprising, the study shows that mobile email activity occurs more when people are on the move with increased activity seen heading into the weekend. Desktop use remains high through the week, spiking on Wednesdays, and then shows a dramatic drop-off on the weekends. Webmail use is lower during the week – lowest in fact, on Wednesday, with more use seen on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, with a big uptick on Saturday and Sunday. Mobile use shows a more steady pattern through the week, with a rise beginning on Thursday that then goes up further on Friday and Saturday, and starts tapering on Sunday (while still remaining higher than weekday use).

“The art of designing for the small screen may prove to be evolving to the art of designing for the reader on the go,” said Bryan Dreller, Product Manager, Return Path. “While still critical to the email design process, rendering quality itself is still secondary to sending the right message at the right time.”

While still a small percentage of overall viewership, the use of mobile devices and in particular tablets is rising quickly. What is critical for marketers to know is that with the introduction of the tablet, the definition of mobile changed permanently. As tablet use becomes more common, new kinds of email experiences in new places and times are now available to consumers. Marketers need to adapt to the ways consumers are viewing content as an important part of staying ahead of the curve.

“With the rise of the iPad and the tablet market, mobile has been redefined,” said Dreller. “According to our study, iPad viewership has grown 15% between October 2010 and March 2011 and we expect to continue to see this percentage grow in the coming months with the recent release of iPad 2. Marketers need to adapt to this change in where and when consumers are accessing email and online content.”

Return Path’s research data was compiled using its Campaign Insight tool which tracks which platforms and email clients subscribers use to read email. Return Path examined six months of data from more than 90 different clients across 130 million data points.