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Mobile Devices, Gmail Tabs Affect Email Opens

Mobile takes nearly half of opens

Mobile’s reach into all aspects of online behavior extends into email use as well. Data from email testing company Litmus found that 47% of worldwide emails in August were opened on a mobile device, up 3% from July and an increase of 24% year over year. In comparison, web users opened 32% of emails using a desktop client such as Outlook or Apple Mail and 21% opened emails via a webmail service, such as Gmail, accessed in a web browser.

Litmus also noted that Gmail’s May introduction of its new tabbed interface, which uses an algorithm to separate out promotional messages into its own channel, had caused concern among email marketers. The convergence of Gmail tabs and mobile opens will be among the most important trends for email marketers to pay attention to going forward.

The Litmus study found that a significant share of Gmail opens occurred on mobile devices, with 54% of Gmail emails opened on either an iPhone or Android device, and another 9% opened on the iPad. Only 19% of Gmail opens occurred via Gmail on the web.

Notably, given the wide distribution of Gmail opens, Litmus found that less than 50% of opens on the mail service occurred on a client that supported tabs.

Overall, Gmail users seem to have had a largely positive response to the new tabbed inbox. An August survey of US internet users conducted by email marketing solution provider StrongView found that the majority of users of Google’s email service had had a neutral or positive response to tabs. Nearly half said that the change had had no effect on the management of their inboxes. However, younger Gmail users found that tabs made email management easier in greater numbers than the overall group of respondents.

Gmail’s tabbed inbox has also had a more dramatic effect on the way younger users interact with promotional emails, according to StrongView. The company found that one-third of Gmail users ages 18 to 24 said they had interacted with promotional emails less as a result of the tabbed inbox, compared to just under one-fifth among all age groups.


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