Where Are Subscribers Opening Email?

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We took a look at our Email Analytics statistics for the past year to examine how email viewing habits have changed. We noted a massive increase in mobile device opens (150% in the last six months alone!), mostly at the expense of web-based providers. This report illustrates the current state of the email client market, as well as changes over the last 12 months.

While we had a hunch that mobile had been on the rise, we were surprised to see the relatively slow adoption of newer versions of Outlook. It was also interesting to take a look at browser preferences for webmail users. While Internet Explorer takes the cake for Yahoo! and Hotmail users, Gmail users are in a near 3-way tie led by Firefox and closely followed by Chrome.

We had a lot of fun looking at this data, and we hope you will, too.

Where are YOUR subscribers opening email?

Getting insight into subscriber open behavior on your own lists is easy with Email Analytics. You can find out how often your recipients are using their smartphone to access email, who’s still using AOL, and even who printed or forwarded right in their email client.


You can also view a wider version of the report.

  • http://twitter.com/stephanhov Stephan Hovnanian

    “…mostly at the expense of web-based providers.” Makes total sense, probably because people using desktop clients are doing so in a work setting, so it’s harder to pull share from them?

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

      That’s exactly what I thought, Stephan. I don’t think we’ll see as marked a decrease in desktop clients since so many of us rely on them to get work done. While many businesses (and their employees) check email on smartphones, that activity isn’t replacing the desktop environment, but rather supporting it.

  • http://twitter.com/CaptainInbox Andy T

    Nice! #FF

  • http://twitter.com/tawatson Tim Watson

    Do you think Android is under represented compared to iPhone since iPhone shows images by default whereas Android doesn’t? Thus tracking is triggered by iPhone always when an email is viewed.

    • http://twitter.com/stephanhov Stephan Hovnanian

      I do. Would love to know if anybody has that figure, or something close to it.

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

        Stephan, what figure are you looking for? Maybe we can help.

        • http://twitter.com/stephanhov Stephan Hovnanian

          something like “Android data may be understated by as much as __% based on the fact that images are turned off by default”

          • http://twitter.com/MarketingXD MarketingXD

            Android is not under-estimated; iOS is *over* estimated. I think by more than 5x (see the blog post that I linked earlier).

            Note that this figure is for random emails. It does not apply to regular emails from the same sender, because once a subscriber has authorized an email client such as Gmail to show images in one email, it will also show images in future emails from the same sender. This reduces the bias.

            If you really care about the results from your email campaigns, track outcomes such as purchases, not opens.

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

            Both may be true: Android may be under estimated as well as iOS being over estimated. In truth, it can vary widely from list to list. Some lists see a very high percentage of Android opens. This post captures aggregate data of all our customers using our product.

            While it is true that subscribers can set webmail clients such as Gmail to always show images for a particular sender, this is a separate and additional action (click) outside of the action to download images. Many factors influence a subscriber’s decision to turn images on for a single email, or to turn them on for all emails from that sender.

            We also emphasize the importance of reporting on revenue-generating performance indicators, such as clicks or conversions. While Email Analytics data can be an important part of making decisions about creative and production processes, or starting to understand deeper behavioral metrics, decisions shouldn’t be made with Email Analytics data alone. I encourage all our customers to pair their EA data with click, conversion, purchase and other data sources to get a complete picture.

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

      Tim, that is certainly part of it, although the default mail app on Android 2.2 will turn on images by default. We’ve seen some individual lists that have very high percentages of Android users. As with everything else in email, it depends quite a bit on your specific subscriber base.

      • http://twitter.com/MarketingXD MarketingXD

        Just checking, by “default mail app”, do you mean “Email” or “Gmail”?

        In my limited experience, most people use Gmail because Android is much more useful when connected to your online Google account. I haven’t noticed Android 2.2 Gmail downloading images by default

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

          By “default mail app” I mean the software that comes installed on the mobile device, rather than any third party email apps. We’re able to track a variety of different ways to access email on mobile devices, and they will show up differently in our reporting. Of course, images must be enabled as well for us to capture the data.

        • http://twitter.com/stephanhov Stephan Hovnanian

          you’re right, they’re two different apps. But I believe the fact that it’s being viewed on an app versus web-based on your phone would put it in the app category. Also, the comment that “most people use Gmail because Android is more useful…” is flawed. I only use Gmail when I get an email to my Gmail account, which is rare, because I don’t use my Gmail address for anything. You’re forced into a Gmail account when you get an Android-powered phone, but that doesn’t mean your primary mail app is going to be Gmail. The part about your phone being more useful when tied to your Google account, though, is spot-on.

    • http://www.elliot-ross.co.uk Elliot Ross

      Likewise for blackberry – the older models at least are notorious for stripping out HTML and making their own text version

    • http://twitter.com/MarketingXD MarketingXD

      This issue is not only a problem for Litmus; it’s made in a lot of reports about email useage. I have the popcorn ready for when some internet marketing company gets sued for mis-selling, on the basis of figures that they should know look wrong.

      @Litmus – happy to help you build-in a correction factor to your reports, in return for you sharing the data.

      I think the situation is as follows, Summer 2001 figures:

      (1) Mobile is over-estimated as a proportion of all email: with figures of up to 20%, when the actual number is about is 5%.

      (2) Within Mobile, iPhone and Android are both about 40%. iPad is about 10% already, which is amazing.


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

        Hi Tim, Thanks for the feedback. We understand that some data will be over- or under- represented due to image blocking, and maintain a policy of being transparent and honest about the limitations of Email Analytics. You can find these help articles at the following link: http://litmus.com/help/analytics/

  • http://www.riazkanani.com?utm_medium=disqus Riaz Kanani

    Would be interesting to see this broken out by country.. :)

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

      Hi Riaz! Thanks for the feedback. We’ve been collecting geolocation data on our individual level records for a few months now, so that’s definitely something we’ll be releasing in the future! Stay tuned :)

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  • Andrzej

    Very poor infographic. Instead of 7 ring graphs there should be 1 line graph. Items on ring graph should be sorted by percentage. Outlook and Outlook Express are grouped together. No data about mobile popularity (compared to mobile mail clients popularity). Labels are inconsistent.

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

      Thanks for your feedback. We worked with a vendor to create this graphic and have heard from a few folks very active in the infographic industry that the data could have been represented differently for greater clarity. We’ll keep this in mind for future infographs.

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  • Curtis Kuhn

    I think you should rename this to be “email programs that display images by default” if that’s the way you’re tracking things. Otherwise people are going to get the wrong impressions.

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

      Hi Curtis, thanks for the feedback. We are pretty transparent about the limitations of Email Analytics, and most folks in the email industry are familiar with the concept that “open” equals “images on.” It’s fairly standard across email marketing to track opens this way.

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  • http://www.jatheon.com/ email archiving appliance

    So basically all we need to do is adjust our email marketing campaigns to new trends. Effective email marketing needs to have quality in order to elevate it self from spam.

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  • http://twitter.com/RPendiyala RamaKrishna

    Smart phones play a major role…

  • Sharon J Kaur

    is this based on Litmus’ Email Analytics?

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

      Hi Sharon, yes it is. We pulled together all the data from our customers using Email Analytics for the report.

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