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More Email Clients, More Problems: Mobile Market Share Increases, Desktop Opens Are Down

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Over the course of the last few months, in more than a few posts, I have tried to hammer home the point that your email has to work not in most places but everywhere.

Gone are the days of making sure that your email campaign functioned in Microsoft Outlook’s messed up Word-based rendering system (because it makes total sense to render your email’s code inside a word processor and not, say, a Web browser) and calling it good for the other, smaller players in the market. Nowadays, the people building emails still have to wrestle with Outlook but also have to manage the likes of Gmail, Yahoo, Apple Mail, Office365, and much more.

While those may have been simpler times, they certainly weren’t the “good old days.” Despite the fact that email developers now have much more to contend with in terms of design, build, and maintenance, the options allow for a lot more flexibility in form and function. Simply put, there’s a lot of cool stuff that we can do with your email if the project allows it.

No, the email options are not going away any time soon. In fact, they’re growing. Mobile opens for email are up and are very close to hitting the 50% of all email opens mark according to Litmus, an email testing and analytics powerhouse.

According to their data, mobile opens for email (iPhone and Android Mail as well as mobile email apps for the likes of Yahoo, AOL, and Outlook.com, among others on mobile devices) are up to 49%, showing growth of 6.5% from the number of mobile opens in July 2014 (46% market share back then). Webmail clients like Gmail are up slightly over last year, growing 3.5% to take 29% of the total market share. Something had to give for all of that growth and it’s desktop clients like Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, and Mozilla Thunderbird that have taken the hit, dropping 15% from last year to just 22% of the market.

However, because of Gmail, those numbers are a little blurry. As Litmus points out, Gmail (which has 16% of the market on its own) straddles that mobile and webmail line because it is impossible to differentiate between opens in Gmail on the Web and in the mobile app on Android & iPhone, as well as in the Inbox app, and if you have your phone’s native mail app set to pull in emails from Google’s service. The way that Gmail treats images inside emails (the primary way of gathering analytics), means that instead of being able to separate everything into different categories, it’s all simply viewed as “Gmail.”

With all of that said, those numbers come with a bit of a disclaimer. Litmus collects data from all kinds of emails, be it promotional messages sent first thing in the morning, order confirmation emails, and so on. The data that they are collecting is mostly not from the staffing industry and thus may be different to what this industry experiences in terms of open rates for desktop vs. webmail vs. mobile. Yet, it goes to show that there is still a lot of fragmentation in the email industry.

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