We’ve been tracking email opens for more than 4 years. And it’s incredible to see how behaviors have changed over time. Mobile email was barely a blip on our radars in 2011, and made up just 8% of email opens. Fast forward to 2014, and nearly half of emails are opened on smartphones and tablets—a 500% increase in four years.
It’s getting harder and harder to stand out in the inbox. Fledging startups are churning out new tools aimed at managing the volume of email that people receive—and subscribers are snapping them up. Meanwhile, the email industry continues to beat the relevance drum, pounding it into our heads that we need to be relevant to our audience, that sending relevant emails is the only way to rise above the noise, that relevant content is the golden ticket to email marketing success. But what, exactly, does it mean to be relevant? How can you tell if your content—and your emails—have relevance to your audience? The answer lies in the VENT methodology.
In December, Google announced that images in emails will now show automatically. We’ve kept a close eye on the increased open counts in Gmail—automatic image downloads have given us a unique opportunity to examine the impact that image blocking has had on email marketing for years. What we’ve learned is fascinating, and unveils a critical metric unknown to email designers before now.
Mobile Gmail apps for both Android and iOS download images automatically and serve them via Google’s caching service. As users update to the new mobile Gmail apps, we’re seeing image caching affect mobile open rates, specifically opens made with the Gmail app on Android. As Gmail open rates rise, there has been a corresponding drop in Android opens. Since January, Android opens have dropped 34%—now representing 8% of opens.
February market share saw continued changes to mobile and webmail stats as Gmail continues to upset previous trends. Mobile opens decreased from 49% to 48%—a position that they haven’t seen since October.