Have Webmail Users Gone Mobile?

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In the last year, mobile opens have increased 24% (from 41% to 51% of total opens), while webmail opens have decreased 36% (from 28% to 18% of total opens). On the surface, it appears as though mobile opens continue to grow at webmail’s expense, but is that really the case?

The ten-percentage-point swap between mobile and webmail environments points to a fascinating trend: the massive behavioral change for subscribers using web-based email accounts like Gmail, Yahoo! and Outlook.com. Users of free web-based email services typically have IMAP access to their messages, making their email accessible from virtual any email client they choose.

To dive deep into the mobile/webmail divide, we analyzed more than 6 million opens from webmail accounts to examine the behavior and preferences of their users.

Click on the graphic for an enlarged view.

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Stats to tweet:

  • 61% of webmail users open on mobile—Tweet this
  • 39% of all webmail opens are on iOS—Tweet this
  • Webmail users prefer mobile: 68% of opens on Gmail/Yahoo!, 56% at AOL + 47% on Outlook.com—Tweet this
  • About 1% of emails sent to an AOL address are opened using Gmail—Tweet this
  • Outlook.com users stay loyal to Microsoft for desktop email access w/ 83% market share—Tweet this

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  • http://BrandDedication.com/ Brand Dedication

    Thank you for this insightful resource Justine! – Happy Holidays to you and the Litmus team!

    • Lauren_Litmus

      Hope your team had a wonderful holiday! Thanks for the positive words about our infographic – we appreciate it!

  • Jessica Cox

    Well done! Love the stats breakdown. :)
    Merry Christmas and many thanks.

    • Lauren_Litmus

      Thanks for the kind words, Jessica! So happy to hear that you liked the post. Hope you had a great holiday!

  • Nadja von Massow

    This is fantastic. Thanks so much. Now, one question I cannot seem to find a reliable answer to: What’s the market share between Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook/Hotmail at the end of 2013, regardless of device?

    • Lauren_Litmus

      Hi Nadja! As of December 2013, AOL represented 0.43% of total opens; Gmail: 5.89%; Outlook.com: 5.56%; and Yahoo: 5.06%. Within the next few days we’ll be posting our latest market share stats so stay tuned for that – we’ll have a detailed breakdown!

      • Nadja von Massow

        Excellent. Thanks, Lauren.

        Generally how tricky is it to combine genuine Gmail with Google apps Gmail client figures, if the objective is to see email client stats (= everything that’s using the Gmail engine)?

        • http://www.litmus.com Justine, Litmus

          It can be pretty tricky! This data takes into account emails sent to a gmail.com or googlemail.com address. It is possible to utilize MX records to detect Google Apps (private domain) users, but those users aren’t reflected in these stats—as a result this reflects a primarily consumer audience rather than a mixed B2B/B2C audience.

  • Sander Uittenbosch

    Nice infographic!

    Now another interesting question remains..
    Which client is used to open these web-emails? e.g. Native iPhone client, Gmail app, Outlook.com app, mobile browser etc.

    When designing responsive emails, noticed that the way clients handle the “responsive part” differs a lot. Would be nice to know which clients are used the most on the devices for each of the web-based email services.

    • http://www.litmus.com Justine, Litmus

      Hi Sander, the various graphs in this infographic break down those exact figures. You can see the most popular email clients for each type of webmail account in each section. For example, in the Gmail section, you can see that 31% of emails to Gmail users are opened on an iPhone, etc.

      • Sander Uittenbosch

        Thanks Justine! But can you tell which app or client is used on the iPhone by this 31%?
        E.g. Standard iOS mail app, Gmail app or even other apps like Mailbox.

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  • Bruno Florence

    Thank you for this great job. I have a question about the methodology. How do you detect user of hotmail (yahoo, gmail…) especially if I open emails @hotmail on outlook (software) or on a mobile device ?

    • http://www.litmus.com Justine, Litmus

      We looked at the email address of the user first, rather than the email client or mobile device they opened on. We pulled opens from ~6 million email addresses ending in common domains for these services (for example, gmail.com or googlemail.com), and then analyzed which programs and mobile devices they opened with.

  • http://emailwizardry.nightjar.com.au/ Nicole Merlin

    Wow! Another amazing infographic. Thanks guys :D

  • gdekadt

    Hi Justine,

    I’m hoping you can help.

    I’ve studied at the infographic, comments below and the “How are third-party mobile email apps reported” page…

    (Question about the latter: how do mobile webmail opens in a mobile browser report? You’re only detailing how apps report themselves.)

    I’m still hoping it’s possible to see some stats for webmail client opens on mobile web browsers. If stats are impossible then is there any fuzzy logic insight you can give us?

    We use Litmus as the primary method of testing our emails – and while I’m proud of my code and very consistent results – even with added responsive goodness – it seems there are new lowest common denominators to deal with…

    No longer is Outlook desktop client the bad guy – it’s webmail nephew (on Android and iPhone) is even worse – and it has Gmail on Android as a partner in crime.

    The issue – as I’m sure you’re aware – is that these webmail clients neither shrink-to-fit or allow responsive code – rather they just display ~300px of the email’s width (on phone sized devices) – requiring users to scroll around to see the full content.

    I’ve seen that fluid layouts may be the solution – and am about to start testing some proposed solutions.

    But – we potentially have a LOT of flow emails to rebuild – I’d really like some kind of idea how important this bad segment is…

    Is there any way to deduce some simple guideline figures? “More than x%” or “in-between a% and b%” need fluid layouts. Even a guestimate is better than nothing…