Report: Mobile Email Opens to Pass PC by Q4

Most marketers' email campaigns are not optimized for mobile. I observe this all the time in my own experience: the majority of emails I open on my smartphone (iPhone) land on an HTML page that assumes I'm on a PC. Yet PC email opens will be the minority use case very soon according to data released by email analytics provider Return Path.

The company examined 500 client email campaigns in Q4, 2011 through Q1, 2012 and found that 30% of email opens were on mobile devices. Further, it said that mobile was on track to become "the dominant email marketing platform later this year." This makes sense because email is one of the primary activities that people do in mobile. Return Path asserts that 42% of all time spent with mobile is spent on email. 

The company doesn't indicate whether iPads are counted as mobile devices here. In that case PC-formatted emails will look OK. 

Regardless, the Return Path data and prediction will come as a shock to most email marketers who are well behind in terms of mobile adoption. Citing third party data Return Path said that of all email opens only 2.4% of people opened the same email on their mobile device and a PC. In other words, marketers get one shot at users and that's going to be mostly mobile as of later this year.

Citing another third party study Return Path reports that 63% of Americans and 41% of Europeans either close or delete emails not optimized for mobile. This shows how high the stakes are for marketers who rely on email -- especially retailers.

Perhaps the second most suprising datapoint from the study, Return Path found that "Apple devices account for 85% of all mobile email opens." What this effectively means is that at some point in Q4 a majority of email opens will happen on iPhones and iPads.