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How Users Interact With Your Email Marketing Messages on Mobile

Your customers are getting your email marketing messages on their mobile devices, but what are they doing with them? A recent study, Email Interaction Across Mobile and Desktop, looked at how users interact with emails on mobile devices. Here’s what they found and what it means to your marketing.

First, email consumption is rapidly shifting toward mobile. The study analyzed 6 million email marketing campaigns sent in 2013 and found that 41% of initial opens occurred on a mobile device, 28% on a desktop and 22% via webmail. In fact, from 2011 to 2013, email opens on mobile devices increased 30%.

The percentage of clicks occurring on mobile devices is growing, too. One-third of total clicks in 2013 took place on a mobile device. However, clicks as a percentage of opens are significantly lower on mobile than on other desktop or webmail clients. The percentage of clicks relative to opens was 19 percent on webmail, 14 percent on desktop and 11 percent on mobile. More surprising, the percentage of clicks relative to opens has gradually declined, while remaining steady on webmail and desktop clients.

The study also looked at “triaging”—the practice of users opening an email on a mobile device, deciding whether to delete it or save it, and then opening it again later to interact in more depth. The authors theorized that triaging might be why the percentage of clicks relative to opens is declining—and the study seemed to support that.

About one-fourth (23%) of emails that were initially opened on mobile devices were later opened again. Seventy percent of these were opened on the same device, and 30% on a different device. Users who opened emails the second time from their computers were 65% more likely to click through.

In general, 87 percent of clicks happen when an email is first opened, and the fact that one-third of clicks occur on a mobile device shows that people are getting more comfortable clicking on their devices. But only 78% of clicks on mobile devices happen on the first open, and the fact that those who open emails on their computers are more likely to click through also suggests that screen size is a factor in how people interact with your emails.

What does it mean for your business?

  • Optimize your emails for both mobile opens and desktop interactions. This way, you’re capturing both types of consumers—those who click on mobile and those who don’t.
  • A basic mobile-ready one-column email layout is no longer enough. To stand out from everyone else’s mobile emails, you need to create compelling content that users will open, save and interact with either now or later. “Responsive design is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity,” the report states.
  • Responsive design will also help you ensure that no matter what device, client or platform your reader is using, he or she will get the best impression. The study found that most mobile opens happen on iOS devices, most webmail opens happen on (formerly Hotmail) and most desktop opens happen on Outlook.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.