Email Marketing Series: Examining Mobile Email Usage and Engagement
Apr 10

Email Marketing Series: Examining Mobile Email Usage and Engagement

Nearly half (49 percent) of all emails are read on mobile devices throughout the world. A recent 2016 study from IBM Marketing Cloud analyzed how recipients across the globe (and throughout different industries) access their email and how long they look at those emails for the first time, revealing diverse findings amongst each.

The United Kingdom and “Rest of World” regions (Asia/Pacific, Mexico/Central/South America, South Africa and India) boast the highest mobile readership at 56 and 55 percent—but the United States isn’t far behind at 49 percent. For global marketers It’s important to consider the high percentage for the “Rest of World” regions because adoption of mobile use is only going to increase in these areas as most users have skipped desktop computer ownership entirely, accelerating mobile content consumption rates dramatically.

Webmail (using a cloud-based email clients like Gmail) and desktop (using a client like Outlook downloaded on a computer) readership make up the rest of readership at 29 and 22 percent, respectively. This signals what we have known for a long time now: mobile comes first.

When breaking down mobile readership amongst industries, food service and sports and entertainment rank the highest at 57 percent. IBM attributes this to the fact that many readers interested in these industries skew younger and therefore are quite literally more mobile when engaging with brands.

IBM also looked at specifically how users engaged with these emails, finding more than half (53 percent) of emails tracked were classified as read. This means the reader was looking at the email for more than eight seconds. The second highest category was “glanced/deleted” (26 percent) which means the reader looked at the email for less than two seconds.

The United States had the lowest read engagement rate at 52 percent and the highest percentage of glanced emails at 26 percent. American readers appear to need more to capture their attention when sifting through their inbox.

Industry data doesn’t bode well for retail and ecommerce companies either: 32 percent of readers glance or delete these emails, the highest rate for any industry. This may be due to retail and ecommerce emails having clearer subject lines featuring discounts or promotions which allow the reader to declare interest just by glancing at it–but this illustrate how important elements like subject lines really are.

The benchmarks found in this study demonstrate the need to deeply consider the layout, content and calls-to-action regardless of what device readers are opening emails on. They also only paint half the picture: the study addresses “process” metrics which have to do with activity on email messages. “Output” metrics also need to be considered in order to fully assess your email marketing program, and these concern things like revenue, order size or number of downloads.

Tracking your company or organization’s email metrics is crucial for improvement. Not only can you measure them against the benchmarks found in this study, but you can constantly measure them against previous data you’ve collected in order to see whether you’ve exceeded or fallen short of your own goals.

Ultimately, the goal of any email marketing program is to provide value to the customer while maximizing conversions or revenue–but first, the customer has to open your email.