Where's Your Prospect's InBox?

According to a new eROI study titled, "Email Marketing, On the Go," the new inbox is always on and always moving, and quickly becoming one of the more challenging aspects of marketing.

With the rapid growth of mobile device usage, increased portability of email addresses to mobile clients (using POP3 or IMAP), the report addresses the need to gain a deep understanding of when, where and how subscribers are reading and interacting with marketing communications.

Optimizing communications for the subscriber's environment no longer just refers to what email client they are using, notes the report. It now also extends to the device they are on, the setting in which they are likely to be (personal or business), and their physical location.

When optimizing to ensure desired action, says the report, many have always considered the "when" factors and "where" factors but the study finds that they must be coupled with additional influences such as:

  •  If sent at a certain time, where will subscribers likely be when they get your email?
  •  Will they be in a personal setting, or a business setting?
  • Will they be out and about on their mobile devices or sitting at their computer?

In a previous study, "The Current State of Social, Mobile and Email Integration," eROI found that a majority of the marketers surveyed were aware that their subscribers were using mobile devices, but nearly two-thirds were unaware of their customers' actual mobile usage patterns, nor did they have a clear plan in place to find out.

The current study reaches out to 20 big-brand ecommerce, retail and publishing marketers to learn more about their awareness of the changing consumer inbox. The participants were asked to estimate what they believed the mobile read rate of their audience to be. Then, partnering with Litmus, eROI  tracked and measured how subscribers actually received and engaged with each email campaign and communication they received over the course of 30 days.

Environment is no longer just a factor in the "readability" of our communication, it is now a factor in ensuring desired action as well, says the report. The study concludes that the device subscribers are on causes optimization efforts to extend beyond the inbox. Knowing that layouts of emails and content pages can display differently for each email client and device, understanding the rendering engines that subscribers are using most often can help to better focus on testing, coding and approach for a better display experience.

Rendering Agents





MS Word






Source: eROI, Email Marketing On the Go, December 2010

When asked to estimate what percentage of their subscribers read emails on an iPhone, iPad, Android or other mobile device, responses that ranged from 2% all the way up to 50%. Those who estimated on the higher end were basing it on the time of day and day of week that they were sending.

Estimated Mobile Client/Device Use for Reading Emails



Yahoo mail




Apple Mail


Apple iPhone




Web versions






Source: eROI, Email Marketing On the Go, December 2010

For most participants, their individual results shifted significantly based on the time-of-day and day-of-week that emails were sent. As we expected however, since people are more likely to be on the go during the weekend, almost all results showed that from Thursday afternoon through Monday morning subscribers were engaging with email on mobile devices at a much higher rate than during the standard workweek.

Messaging Usage

Device Type

Weekly Peak

Daily Peak


Sun, Fri, Sat

12-9 AM, 5-12 PM



9 AM - 5PM

Source: eROI, Email Marketing On the Go, December 2010

The report concludes by noting that we are moving out of the awkward teen years of mobile and rapidly moving into a technology that is maturing at an accelerated rate. The onslaught of mobile devices is changing how people communicate and consume information. Marketers are recognizing the need to expand optimization efforts past the desktop to include smart phones and tablets to gain or simply just keep "mindshare."

For the complete report in a PDF file, please visit eROI here.

1 comment about "Where's Your Prospect's InBox?".
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  1. Matt Witter from Hacker Group, December 7, 2010 at 11:32 a.m.

    It’s interesting to ask the question “Where will your subscriber be when receiving your email?” but the “where” is not necessarily dependent on “when” the email is sent. People sometimes wait days to open marketing emails. Certainly a lot of email – if not most of it – is opened several hours after it’s sent. Making estimates about mobile usage based on when you send a message is unlikely to be accurate. I look at a lot of email on my mobile device during business hours – for example, in between meetings – when you might guess I’d be at my office computer. The more important point is that marketers need to be prepared to be wherever the customer wants. An email message needs to make sense to the consumer on their office laptop, their personal desktop or on their mobile device.
    Matt Witter, VP – Hacker Group

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