In the first half of 2015, we’ve seen email open data continue to favor mobile apps and providers that focus on new and innovative solutions. Desktop opens have fallen 4% in the first half of 2015 now representing 22% of opens. Mobile opens have seized desktop’s fallen share, growing 4% to capture 49% of market share. Conversely, opens in free webmail services like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook.com have decreased 4%; opens in these providers currently make up 29% of opens.
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.
The new year has brought plenty of new changes to email client market share. In January, we saw continued impact to Gmail open rates, a drop for Android and mobile return to pre-holiday rates.
Predicting how emails will render on smartphones and tablets can get complicated because there are so many factors involved. Differences between device manufacturers, operating systems, screen sizes and email applications can all impact how your email will render on a mobile device. Just in case desktop and webmail rendering weren’t already giving you enough trouble (we’re looking at you, Outlook), the popularity of mobile has only added fuel to the fire.
After meeting (and exceeding!) the 50% tipping point in November, mobile opens maintained their majority share through December. For the first time since May 2012, webmail opens netted an increase—moving from 18% to 20% of opens. Meanwhile, desktop opens decreased from 31% to 29%. Earlier in December, Gmail shook things up with big announcements which contributed to another major change in email client market share.
Six months after Gmail’s tabbed inbox was announced, opens have continued to decline. The effect of this decrease was seen in our top ten for October, as Gmail moved down a notch to the #9 spot in the top ten. Overall, Gmail opens are down a full percentage point since May, or a 27% change.