The iPad is the most popular device for mobile transactions from emails

Q2 2013 email benchmark report shows 50% of email opened on mobile devices and overall email volume increased nearly 18%

Here is a look at our latest email trends from the Experian Marketing Services’ Q2 2013 Email Benchmark report for the second quarter in 2013. This report looks at email and mobile interactions highlighting the importance of optimizing campaign design across multiple platforms and understanding the viewing preferences of subscribers to maximize email response. The report also looks at the impact of recently introduced Gmail delivery with its new categories.

Key findings in the report include:

  • Email volume rose by 17.9% in Q2 2013 compared to Q2 2012.
  • Unique open rates were up year-over-year by 7.2%.
  • Unique clicks declined slightly from 2.5% to 2.3% year-over-year.
  • Revenue per email was $0.11, just below the $0.12 seen last quarter and last year.
  • 50% of all emails were opened on mobile devices.
  • The iPad® is the most popular device for mobile transactions from emails.
  • Although overall transaction rates declined in Q2 2013, 48% of brands had statistically significant increases in transaction rates this quarter compared to Q2 2012.
  • Average order values rose both year-over-year and quarter-to-quarter for Q2 2013.
  • Catalogers had the highest gain in volume as 90% of brands increased mailings in Q2 2013.
  • Two-thirds of Consumer Products and Services and three-quarters of Multi-Channel Retail brands also had year-over-year increases in volume.

“With half of all emails opened on mobile devices in Q2 2013, we noticed that people who open email on more than one device, two or more times, have a greater propensity to buy or buy more,” said Peter DeNunzio, general manager for cross-channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services. “Insight like this helps marketers plan the timing of their email marketing, and its best to include reminders to customers to engage them when they are less busy and are more inclined to purchase. As such, it is important for marketers to leverage platform preferences and engagement metrics to identify key subscribers for future targeted offers.”

Mobile interactions

As smartphone and tablet usage continues to proliferate, we are now seeing many campaigns with the majority of opens occurring on mobile devices. Therefore, understanding the impact of mobile on email marketing campaigns is a necessity. Experian Marketing Services conducted a study that included results from five million openers, in response to 29 campaigns, sent from seven brands in the past 12 months. Findings include:

  • Looking at the average percent of unique opens per platform, we found that 50% of unique opens occurred on a mobile device, while desktop-only and webmail-only each received 23%.
  • Mobile-only also received the highest percentage of unique clicks, but that percentage dropped to 40%, compared to the 50% we saw with unique opens.

Mobile transactions

While transactions from email are still most likely to occur on webmail or desktop platforms, the study also identified how popular mobile devices performed for various metrics. The iPhone® was by far the most commonly used mobile device for opens and clicks, but the iPad was used more for transactions. The larger screen of the iPad may be driving this choice of device, much like the desktop and webmail preferences we saw for overall purchases. Android phones were third for opens and transactions, but second for clicks.

  • The strength of the other platforms outside of mobile becomes most obvious when looking at transaction behavior. Webmail was first, with 48% of all transactions, while desktop received the second largest percentage at 25% of transactions. Webmail was the leading platform for transactions on more than 80% of the campaigns.
  • Customers appear to be opening on mobile, but are more comfortable making their transactions on the larger screens of other platforms.
  • The iPad is the most popular device used for mobile transactions from email.



While only a small percentage of email opens occurred in the mobile-combo and other categories, these two platform types had the most highly engaged and profitable subscribers. This demonstrates the higher interest and likelihood of customers choosing to open the email on more than one platform. In addition to having the highest click-to-open rates, the mobile-combo and other categories had higher revenues per opener than any of the single platform groups.

  • While mobile-only had the lowest click-to-open rates and revenue per unique opener of any of the single platform categories, it is important to remember that this group had the highest number of openers, and therefore, even at these lower percentages, contributed a sizeable amount of overall revenue.
  • Mobile-only provided 13% of total revenue, compared to just 2% from the other category.

Optimize across platforms

As we have seen, the impact of mobile on email is complex and variable. Therefore, it is important for marketers to optimize campaigns across multiple platforms.

  • Analyze the platform and device preferences of subscribers on a regular basis to identify trends and monitor changes.
  • It is important for marketers to optimize campaign design across multiple platforms and understand the viewing preferences of subscribers to maximize email response.
  • Marketers should ensure that email creative is designed for mobile. Case studies of brands testing responsive design have shown increases of up to 63% in click rates and 18% in transaction rates when using responsive design.

Trend to watch: Gmail delivery

Gmail has an optional new inbox with organizational categories, and to maximize results from Gmail subscribers we recommend the following:

  • Dynamically populate a banner or pre-header text for Gmail subscribers asking them to click on the priority inbox icon or to ‘star’ their emails.
  • Send a dedicated message to Gmail subscribers with instructions on how to continue to receive your emails in their primary inbox.
  • Monitor response rates and see if there are any downward trends with Gmail subscribers.

Experian Marketing Services looked at a random selection of 12 brands with mailings in May 2013 (before the Gmail changes) and July 2013 (after the Gmail changes), and compared open and click rates for Gmail and all other domains. We did not see any systematic decline for Gmail rates as 8 of the 12 brands had higher open rates for Gmail subscribers in July than in May, and 7 had higher click rates in July as well. We continue to monitor user behavior and evaluate any longer term trends.

The full Experian Marketing Services Q2 2013 email benchmark report is available to download. 

Learn more about the author, Matt Tatham.