Statistics for Email Use on Smartphones

Josh Perlstein at Response Media asked a question on the Inbox Insiders list hosted by Bill McClosky of Email Data Source yesterday, "Is there any recent research about the % of US consumers who read email on their smartphone versus their PC?"

I immediately realized that I asked questions about this on the 2009 Channel Preferences Survey, but somehow these statistics never made it into the final report. So, without further delay, here they are:

This is particularly important given internet analyst Mary Meeker's recently prediction that smartphone shipments will surpass PCs within two years. But don't let it alarm you to much as 94% are checking the same email on both their mobile device and their PC.

So, what's next? 

1) Determine if your audience is reading on mobile.
Just because consumers are reading email on smartphones does not necessarily mean that your customers are. Litmus has a great analytics tool for determining the number of customers reading your emails on mobile. In testing with clients our design team has found that the number of customers reading email on mobile devices varies dramatically.

2) Don't freak out if your audience is reading on mobile (and even if they aren't).
First off, subscribers generally understand that emails "break" on their mobile device. The opportunity (for now) is simply to optimize performance so that you can 'surprise and delight' your consumers by delivering emails that stand out from the crowd. However, as more marketers fix their mobile emails, these expectations are likely to change.

In addtion, if people aren't reading on a mobile device, this may actually be to your benefit as users are better able to respond to the Call-to-Action on their PC where they have the advantage of large screens, full size keyboards, and printers.

3) Start testing.
First off, there are no easy solutions. For example, our design team has developed solutions that use a "View on Mobile" link to redirect users to device specific landing pages, but this can take a significant amount of time. Depending on the number of consumers affected, the effort may or may not be justified. Mark Brownlow has compiled a comprehensive list of resources on mobile email design that should help you tackle this challenge.

Any other suggestions? I'd love to hear your take.

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