Return Path, a specialist in email deliverability, analyzed more than 27 billion email opens between May 2016 and April 2017 using its own email tracking solution and compared the results with similar research undertaken in 2012.
It found that 55% of email was opened on mobile devices, up from just 29% in 2012. Webmail opens on internet browsers (like Gmail.com or Yahoo.com) dropped from 37% to 28% during the same period.
And desktop email (defined as email opened on software installed on a desktop or laptop, like Outlook or Apple Mail) had the lowest share of opens halving from 32% in 2012 to just 16% in 2017.
“In just five years, we’ve seen dramatic shifts in the email space – and there’s no doubt that more changes are coming,” said Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path.
“Knowing how, when, and where your emails are being opened – and how those things have changed over time – can help to inform critical decisions about the direction of your email program,” he added.
The study highlighted several other significant, if not necessarily surprising, developments in the email landscape.
For example, Gmail has emerged as the clear leader in the webmail space, it said, as the share it claims of webmail opens surged from a mere 6% in 2012 to 59% today.
Yahoo has experienced a precipitous decline over the same period, it added, accounting for just 5% of webmail opens during the study period, down from 37% in 2012.
In the mobile space, email opens on iOS, both iPhone and iPad, continue to have a huge advantage over Android. Combined, iOS opens made up 79% of mobile email opens, compared to 20% for Android. In 2012, just 14% of mobile emails were opened on Android, while 85% were opened on iOS.
The study also looked at when emails were opened and found that mobile opens peak at the weekend, while webmail and desktop gain during the workweek.
Data sourced from Return Path; additional content by WARC staff