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Mobile retail email open rates jump 50pc during the holidays

As consumers embrace mobile for a variety of shopping-related activities this holiday season, they are also opening emails from retailers on their smartphones and tablets at a much higher rate, according to a new report from Knotice.

 In a comparison of email opens on mobile devices versus desktop between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26, Knotice found that mobile email opens jumped 50 percent. Overall, 45 percent of emails from retailers were opened on a mobile device.

“Retailers need to be aware that more and more consumers are engaging via mobile device, and our data shows the trends continue to climb, especially for tablet use,” said Patti Renner, director of marketing at Knotice, Akron, OH.

“If your emails only work for 55 percent of the people – the percent of those engaging via traditional desktop/laptop computers – then you’re leaving cash on the table – especially for these holiday campaigns,” she said.

Apple leads
Key findings from the report include that the iPhone and iPad remain the most popular devices for opening email, with the iPhone netting 23.93 percent of opens and the iPad 15.81 percent.

The results show that email opens on phones continue to outpace those on tablets, with mobile phones representing 25.85 percent of all email opens and tablets 10.6 percent.

However, tablet use is gaining ground, with the number of emails opened on tablets during the same period  in question doubled compared with last year.

Android phones represented 4.15 percent retail email opens and Android tablets 0.64 percent.

The numbers for mobile reported by Knotice may be lower than actual numbers because the results are based downloading email images and image download is not a default setting for every operating system, including some Android devices.

In the first half of the year, mobile retail email opens accounted for 36.01 percent of all email but increased to 44.75 percent during Thanksgiving week.

Time variations level off
Another key finding is that during Thanksgiving week, open rates via mobile devices held steady throughout the day with far less dramatic drops in use during work hours as have been previously seen.  

“In the past, we saw more dramatic differences where people were opening email on desktop devices at work, then mobile after 5PM, with things falling off at times during the night,” Ms. Renner said. “But for this week and the sampling from 2.85 million emails sent, mobile engagement of email was steady overall.

“This could be that people were taking time off work and not on their desks, but it still was more leveled off than in the same week in 2011,” she said.

Adaptive design
The report also found that, while click activity overall is still considerably higher on desktop compared to mobile, the click-through rates for phones and tablets increased during the Thanksgiving week.

Ms. Renner points to Tea Forte as an example of a retailer that is getting it right with mobile email. The company’s emails this holiday season include large buttons that are placed in the center of the screen to make it easy for mobile users to click on.

For other retailers who are not as prepared, one of the first steps should be getting get open rates by devices.

“Another thing they can do is to use adaptive design for creative to increase the odds that email images will render well,” Ms. Renner said. “Of course you need to test the heck out of every campaign.

“Taking a mobile-first approach can help,” she said. “Apps are great, but emails are the anchor to most campaigns, driving them to take action.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York