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What Can Sending 2 Billion Emails Tell Us About Mobile Email Habits?

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was written by the folks at Campaign Monitor. They are excited to share with you their recent findings. The data presented in this post was exclusively mined from their user base.

By now, most marketers have come across the statistics supporting the fact that more and more people are opening their email on mobile devices. That comes as no surprise to those of us surgically attached to our phones.

The sharp rise in email consumption on mobile devices has had a profound impact on all aspects of email marketing, from subject lines to design. It also invites the possibility of a future where the desktop environment takes a back seat to mobile.

But is that truly the case? Will the desktop soon be overshadowed? Should marketers and designers focus solely on optimizing their email campaigns for mobile users?

We turned to our data from 2013 to help us answer those questions. Now, after reviewing 780 million mobile opens from 2 million campaigns sent to nearly 2 billion email addresses, this is what we have learned.

First, if users open an email on a mobile device, they are more likely to open it a second time than they are to click from their phone or tablet. Overall, 8% of people who opened an email on mobile clicked right away, while 23% opened it again later.

Second, if the subsequent open happens on a desktop, users are more likely to click. Indeed, 12.9% of later opens from a desktop converted to clicks, while only 7.8% of later opens from another mobile phone or tablet converted.

So, clearly, you can’t count the desktop out just yet.

Let’s go one step further and take a look at how people interact with their email based on which mobile device they use to first open it. Together, iPhone, iPad, and Android account for 99% of emails opened on mobile devices.


iPhone users represent our largest sample size – 61% of the 780 million mobile opens. And as it turns out, iPhone users are more likely than iPad users or Android users to make a second open from a desktop. There’s clearly something to be said for larger screens!

(There’s also some evidence of crossover between mobile devices for iPhone and iPad users. They both are more likely to open their email again from another mobile device than Android users.)

campaign monitor data for iPhone


The increase in click-through rate for iPad users who open a second time from a desktop vs. their iPad (the original mobile device) is less pronounced compared with other mobile devices. Users are 14% more likely to click through when they move from iPad to desktop vs. 56% for iPhone users who move to a desktop vs. 264% for Android users who move to a desktop.

(iPad users who open their email again from a different mobile device have the lowest click-through of all second opens.)

campaign monitor data for iPad


Of the 780 million mobile opens, 12% were on Android. Note that Apple devices automatically load images and therefore register opens by default, whereas Android doesn’t, so the activity attributed to Android is skewed low. But we’ve still got a sample size of 93.6 million opens on Android to analyze.

Of all mobile readers, Android users are the most likely to open a second time but the least likely to make that second open on a desktop. Still, people who first open their email on Android and then go on to open again from their desktop have the greatest likelihood of taking action: one out of 5 will click.

campaign monitor data for Android

What Does This Mean for Email Marketers?

  • Don’t ignore mobile. If your emails aren’t already responsive, make it a priority.
  • Aim to get a second open from mobile users. People are less likely to click from mobile devices.
  • Don’t ignore desktop and webmail clients, even for mobile readers. If users open your content again from their desktop, they’re far more likely to click.

A Note on How This Data Was Compiled

To find out what email service someone is using, the user needs to open the email with images enabled. Some email services (like Outlook and Gmail) block images by default and require an action by the user to enable them. Other clients (like Apple Mail and the iPhone) do not. This can skew the market share upward a little for those services that show images by default.

Please note that email services that aren’t capable of displaying images, such as older Blackberry models and other mobile devices could not be included in this study.

About the Author: Agata Celmerowski is Head of Marketing at email marketing software provider Campaign Monitor. More than 100,000 designers, agencies, and amazing companies of all shapes and sizes around the globe rely on Campaign Monitor’s software to run their email marketing. For more information on today’s post, check out Campaign Monitor’s report Email Marketing Trends: Email interaction across mobile and desktop.

  1. What are your thoughts on click engagement and users having the app on their mobile device? do they open and then convert on the app.

    • Kathy, it really is case specific and depends on the industry. That being said, one should always do some research before hopping into any campaign.

  2. @Kathy, I don’t have aggregated stats but Airbnb recently had some good results with their referral program: We also have some tips on actually coding links to open in-app in your emails:

    • Aviva Pinchas Dec 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Hey Agata –

      In that situation, what happens if the user opens the link on desktop or doesn’t have the app installed? I think it can add a lot of friction when users are just taken to a “Download the app!” or “Open on mobile” screen.

  3. Love the graphs and diagrams you guys put up!

  4. Love the graphs and diagrams you guys put up!
    Keep doing what you are doing.

    Bookmarked you guys

  5. Hi Agata and Niel, I have a question about the data. Are the percentages relative to one another?
    61% Opened.
    19.8% of that 61% opened again.
    25.6% of that 19.8% reopened the email from desktops.

    If this is true, wouldn’t the percentage of Opens and CTR on desktops be small? I.E. For iPhone, the Reopen rate would be ~3.09% and the CTR ~ .7% via Desktop compared to 6.96% via Mobile.

  6. Hi, I found this really interesting. One of your conclusions is that marketers should “aim to get a second open from mobile users.” I realize your study didn’t look at actual content, but do you have any idea what motivated the second open or HOW marketers can prompt it? Thanks!

  7. Great data and you pointed out an important piece of data to “not ignore your desktop users”. We are also still seeing a strong desktop presence. Responsive templates have been the best solution so far to ensure the best customer experience and engagement on all platforms.

    Love that you were tracking down to the subsequent clicks as well. Something I continue to monitor is the mobile first and then the action gets taken on the desktop later in many cases.

  8. Audra Carpenter May 07, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Great article guys. Really helps having sound data like this to support further initiatives towards mobile friendly emails.

    Appreciate what you do!


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