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Mobile Email Recipients Not Saving Messages to Read Later on Desktop: Surveys

December 19, 2011

Published by Chief Marketer
Written by Beth Negus Viveiros

All marketers know that mobile devices enable consumers to check email whenever and where ever they want. But what they might not be considering is that once consumers read an email on their tablet or phone, they're necessarily not saving it to follow-up on later on their desktop.

The number of emails opened on a mobile device rose 51% in first half of 2011 over the last quarter of 2010, according to the latest Knotice Mobile Email Opens Report. And perhaps more importantly for marketers, people are not saving emails to view later on a different device. Only 3.09 percent of the sample of 701 million emails in the Knotice study were opened on both mobile device and desktop. Of that 3.09 percent, only one-third were opened on mobile device first, then viewed on a desktop device later.

"The considerable rise in email opens was not a surprise," says Bryce Marshall, director of strategic services at Knotice. "What was a surprise was that users weren't necessarily opening on both mobile and desktop devices."

Likewise, a study from Return Path — “Mobile, Webmail, Desktops: Where are We Viewing Email Now” — reports that email opens on mobile devices grew by 34% for April 2011-September 2011 compared to the prior six month period. In that same time, the number of opens in Webmail and desktop decreased by 11% and 9.5% respectively. Email views on iPads use not surprisingly skyrocketed, increasing 73%.

Mobile open rates are spiking early in the morning, a fact possibly attributable to people looking at their phones when they wake up, before they even get out of bed, says Marshall.

"This may be your one shot to reach them," he notes. "Marketers need optimize emails for use on mobile devices, not only in terms of rendering but engaging with users -- making sure that the value propositions and calls to action are clearly stated."

Because consumers reading email early in the morning might just be looking for messages that require immediate action (and deleting those that don't), it makes sense for marketers testing hitting inboxes at other times besides first thing in the day.

Lunchtime, when people are paying more attention, is an option, Marshall suggests. The evening, when consumers are watching TV with their family while using their iPads, can also be a high time for engagement.

The use of mobile devices increases a message's being at the top of consumers' inboxes, because they are checking throughout the day into the evening. "Marketers need to think about that," says Tom Sather, Return Path’s director of professional services. "The paradigm has shifted, so messages don't necessarily need to be there at 9 a.m. You need to see where your mobile readers are and when they are looking at your emails."

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