Over 41% of email is opened on phones. Now that you know that, can you please do something about it?

If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself doing plenty of this every day.

  • Receiving an email on your phone; beep beep.
  • Immediately opening your phone and the email with the hope that it’s an email from a human and possibly an email with importance; even better if you’re in a lift or a taxi.
  • Seeing that the email is not from a human and is a marketing or similar email; with the images automatically turned off making the sender of the email almost impossible to identify. (It goes without saying that most of the email’s content and design lies in the imagery that is not displaying on your mobile screen).
  • Add to the mix the fact that the email doesn’t at all fit on your small mobile screen; it stretches down and up and is clearly designed for Outlook or Gmail on your laptop. Even if you did bother to download the images associated with the email, reading the email, let alone getting a sense of its true size would be difficult – to the point of being almost impossible, at least emotionally:



(Unfortunately – or fortunately – Windows 8 Phone handles this A4-paper sized emails differently, by shrinking them to fit the screen; you can see this from the screenshot from my phone… You can however, see the relative size of the email and the text on my phone screen and that even if I wanted to read the email, I would need to zoom… bringing the email back to its particularly unoptimised size for my screen…)

  • After all, you just asked for a quick email fix; something to immediately give you something to do whilst waiting for your takeaway chicken laksa lunch to be cooked up.
  • The email is deleted without thought.
  • You didn’t ask for a challenge and disappointment.


And yet this behaviour seems to have gone unnoticed

Despite us all knowing that we subconsciously do this – often many times a day on your smartphones – we continue to do it without taking the slightest bit of notice.

Indeed, despite the fact that the email clearly isn’t important enough for us to invest any time in – except the time taken to delete the email – we rarely bother unsubscribing; too hard, a likely trap negotiating the email sender's heavy desktop website on our mobile phones.

It is not just our behaviour as consumers and email recipients that isn’t changing.

Thousands of marketers and web designers are signing off big and no doubt beautiful emails every minute; albeit that these emails make a mockery of anyone on a smartphone which statistically, most people subscribing to emails are more than likely to be on.

And it’s not as if these marketers and web designers sending these emails don’t also have smartphones and do not also go through the ever-continuing cycle of deleting unoptimised emails on their smartphones.

What a waste.


Surely we’re past the tipping point

In fairness, I still observe plenty of traditional emails being designed up in our digital agency; without an equally important mobile version of the design for those users on mobile.

It’s changing as our Producers help clients to brief in at least two-versions of each email, though it isn’t happening nearly fast enough based on the number of emails I continue to delete on my phone.

According to research, 41% of all emails were opened on smartphones in the second half of 2012.

That is an American stat, though I can’t see how we wouldn’t be at least as close in Australia.

I am not an email expert, though no doubt such experts could tell you the percentage of all emails that are marketing emails and so forth; essentially emails that are not from humans.

I’d be speculating, though I reckon it is way up there, especially when I take into account the different technology, eCommerce and Daily Deals websites I subscribe too.

41% of emails is huge. Huge.

As a web designer, I have the benefit of a laptop, desktop, tablet and iMac on the kitchen bench; where I get my email is fragmented.

For younger people – I’m 33 and so way over the hill on this whole technology and Internet thing – their phones will be much more likely their primary… and only device.

Shooting unoptimised emails at smartphones is like fighting fire with fire.

At best, it is a waste of time. At worst, your users are unsubscribing.


And mobile emails are easy. Mobile emails are easy…

Once your templates are established, they’re easy to generate and dynamically draw to suit the screen-size of the recipient.

Whilst it is true that not all smartphones perform as well as others, most work pretty well using what is known as ‘responsive design’ for email.

The iPhone certainly works very well and that is half your boggle as a marketer or web designer.

You could even go further; if a user is subscribing to your website on a phone in the first-place, flag this in your database and send them an email dedicated for phones.

There are plenty of articles online about how to design emails for phones.

In the same way that as web designers, we are increasingly thinking about designing websites for mobile devices before the desktop… we really need to start email design this way too.

You’ll see an immediate improvement in click-through rates and campaign performance.

And a drop in unsubscribes.

It is not like this is the first time I have written about this.