Saving Email for Later: Opens Across Devices & Environments

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Mobile opens are growing rapidly. In the last year, emails opened on mobile devices more than doubled, and have increased 80% in the last six months alone.

A common assumption many of us make is that subscribers ‘triage’ or preview emails on their mobile device before marking the email for later viewing—likely their webmail or work account on a desktop computer. Surprisingly, a deep dive into the same data we looked at for our latest market share stats showed otherwise:

  • Just 3.3% of users have viewed a single email in more than one environment (both mobile and either desktop or webmail)
  • Users who have recently read email on their mobile will do so again about 45% of the time

This means that nearly 97% of emails are viewed just once.

Save it for later

(click for a larger version)

While subscribers don’t frequently save emails spotted on their mobile for a more thorough read on the desktop, those that have opened on mobile in the past are likely to do so again in the future.

Mobile-friendly design is no longer an option

Rather, it’s a requirement. With nearly 38% of all email opens occurring in mobile devices, the portability of email has never been so crucial. Subscribers are fickle, and will open email where and when it’s most convenient for them. Even with statistics from Email Analytics, it’s impossible to predict where a user will open.

No second chances

If the initial mobile experience for your subscriber is less than ideal, chances are your email won’t be viewed again in a more suitable mail client. The prevalence of mobile opens combined with the likelihood of a ‘mobile user’ opening your email on a mobile device confirms the notion that designing with mobile in mind is an absolute necessity.

  • Bryce Marshall

    Interesting data Justine! We can confirm the same conclusion: you get one chance. Our analysis has shown a shockingly similar number to your 3.3%. As far as predicting the device for the next email open, we have found that if the last three consecutive opens were on mobile, there is a nearly 95% level of confidence the next open will be on mobile too. It looks like once somebody gets used to checking email on their mobile device, they stick with it.

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  • Elizabeth Ball

    I’m not sure that I agree with your line, “97% of emails are viewed just once”. Perhaps you mean 97% of emails are viewed on just one device, but this could be viewed multiple times, surely? Doesn’t it depend on the message being sent? 34% of my members view their monthly newsletter more than once, while only 13% view promotional emails more than once.

    • Justine, Litmus

      Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for your feedback and question.

      We took about two weeks’ worth of data collected from Email Analytics (users across many industries around the world) to calculate these stats. We looked to see how frequently a single email address accessed the same email in more than one environment (mobile, desktop or webmail). I could see how this stat could be misunderstood unless you read “Just 3% of users have viewed a single campaign in more than one environment” first. I apologize for any confusion that may have caused.

      It’s entirely plausible (and common for some marketers) to have subscribers view a single email multiple times, especially on their desktop. That’s usually a good indicator that you’re sending valuable content! Of course this may vary given your audience, content, industry, etc. It’s great to hear that you’ve looked into your own audience’s behavior, since that’s what matters the most!

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