An inbox in your pocket: how we check our email on our smartphones

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In your pocket, on your desk or even on your night stand: in recent years the smartphone has become an inseparable companion. In fact, many of the tools that we used to use on our computers are now found on these devices, which can be taken anywhere.

One of them is email. More and more users open emails, whether personal or corporate, using their smartphones and tablets. That is why Marketing specialists and customer service experts cannot ignore small screens, and have to take them into account when designing their campaigns. But, to what extent do we use our smartphones to check email? We provide you with some figures revealing the rise of mobile mail.

The ascendancy of small screens

A few months ago Gmail surpassed 1 billion active users. Outlook, meanwhile, has more than 400 million active monthly users. In all, according to a recent study by The Radicati Group, there will be more than 3.7 billion email users in the world by the end of 2017.

Mobile phone users are even more numerous: a GSMA Intelligence study states that there are already more than 5 billion people with a mobile phone in the world, accounting for more than two thirds of the total population. According to a study by eMarketer, there are already 2.4 billion smartphone users.

The figures reflect the importance of electronic mail as a communication tool, and smartphones as a device. Now, do we open many emails from our mobiles?

According to the latest email marketing study conducted by IBM, based on messages sent by 750 companies in 40 countries, almost half (49%) of the emails were read on a mobile device, 22% on a computer, and 29% through a webmail service. Among all the countries analysed, the high penetration of mobile mail in the United Kingdom stands out: 55% of emails are read on smartphones there, while in the rest of Europe that percentage is 32%, and, in the United States, 49%. est_2

Adobe recently published a study that reached similar conclusions. After interviewing 1,000 white-collar workers in the United States, the study highlighted that the smartphone is the device most used to check email regularly: 81% use their smartphones to access their virtual mailboxes, 74% use their desktop computer or laptops, 21% use their tablets, and only 2%, their smart watches.  

Unsurprisingly, the report shows that people want to be able to access their email from virtually anywhere (for example, 26% do so in bed), so the use of a mobile device becomes necessary.

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The Adobe study points out that the device chosen to read emails depends on the purpose of the account. Although respondents prefer their smartphones if their mailboxes are personal (59% check this kind of account using their mobiles; 35%, from their computers; and 6%, from their tablets), they still prefer to check work email from a computer (62%, compared to 35% who do so with a smartphone, and 4% with a tablet).

A study conducted by the email marketing company Adestra also drew similar conclusions. In this case, they asked 1,200 personal email users of different generations whether they used a mobile device to check email before reading it on a computer. 40% of respondents between age 14 and 18 always check their accounts on a smartphone, a figure that drops to 29% amongst young people between 19 and 34, and to just 8% for users between 56 and 67.

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Email, one of the most used apps

In addition to demonstrating that many users check their email with their smartphones, some analyses confirm that email is one of the most popular tools on smartphones.

A study conducted last year by Google based on the data of more than 11,000 of its users made it clear that the smartphone is the preferred device: on a normal day, more than a quarter of its users use only their smartphones to surf the Web, almost twice as many as those who use just a computer.  

Also, when we are actively using our phones, we interact with an average of 4.8 apps per hour. Instant messaging apps and search engines are the most used (83% use them), followed by social media (73%) and email apps (71%).

The future of email: increasingly mobile

Mobile devices allow us to open and respond to emails from anywhere. So, as you have seen, more and more are being used to check email. Although, logically, we continue to check it from our computers, marketing and customer service experts have to take into account in their campaigns that a good portion of the emails they send will be received on a device that fits in a pocket.

If you want to know about your habits when using Gmail, either from your computer or from your mobile phone, or you want detailed information on how your company’s employees use e-mail, Gmail Meter can help you. Get Gmail Meter, your Gmail statistics tool.

The data shows that email is still alive and well (and is not going anywhere, for now)

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Social media, corporate chats, instant messaging apps … in recent years the range of tools we use to communicate has expanded considerably. Despite this, one of them that came before remains essential: email.

Receiving and sending email continues to be a very common practice in our daily lives, both in the personal and in the corporate spheres. In fact, email is the predominant service for communication with suppliers, customers, and even between employees. According to a recent study by Adobe in the United States workers use email 5.4 hours a day.

An abundance of other data confirms that we continue to use email, even though new alternatives have appeared, and that we will continue to do so in the coming years. We take a look at the statistics, which show that email is more alive than ever:

More than 4 billion accounts in 2020

By the end of this year there will be more than 3.7 billion email users in the world. That is, practically half of the world’s population (now at more than 7.5 billion people) will communicate via this tool, according to the latest study by the California research firm The Radicati Group, which analyses email’s status annually.

The report, published at the beginning of the year, also indicates that the number of users has steadily increased in recent years: in 2009, the same firm indicated that there were 1.4 billion users, almost three times fewer.

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The company also underscores that this growth will continue in the future: in 2021 there will be 4.1 billion users, which represents an annual increase of 3%. Logically, in the world there are more accounts than users, as it is common to have more than one (1.7 on average), although that number is also expected to increase in the coming years.

The data also reveals that Gmail is the leading email provider. At the beginning of last year Google announced that it had 1 billion active monthly users. This summer Gmail indicated that the figure had risen to 1.2 billion users, almost three times as many as five years ago (in 2012 there were 425 million).  This data demonstrates its dominance over its main competitor, Outlook, which has fewer users and has seen slower growth: at the start of the year it reached 400 million active users, while in 2011 Hotmail had 360 million.

The increasing use of smartphones to communicate, rather than computers, has not meant that people are using email any less. According to Gmail data, 75% of users say they check their email on their mobiles. After all, it is just as convenient to check mail using an app, with the added advantage that one can do so anywhere. What’s more, people are now sending emails in all kinds of situations: according to the aforementioned Adobe study, 69% check it while watching television, 59%, while in bed; and 43%, in the bathroom.

How are we using email?

In addition to being a tool that almost everyone has, we use email intensively: The Radicati Group estimates that 269 billion emails are sent daily. The figures from Internet Live Stats, a website that produces snapshots of Internet use in real time, are similar: according to this page, more than 75 billion emails have already been sent this year.

As we have said, e-mail is especially important in the corporate world. How often do we send messages using this tool? According to another study conducted by The Radicati Group, workers send and receive an average of 122 emails a day, which adds up to a considerable amount of time reading and writing messages.

Respondents to the study conducted by Adobe (1,000 white-collar employees) also see corporate mail continuing to have a place in the future: 57% of the participants believe that we will continue to use email in the same way in the next two years.

The study also shows that the youngest respondents (ages 25 to 34) check their mail more than others outside the office: on transport on their way to work, while walking, or even on vacation.

The survey also suggests that consumers like email, as 61% still prefer to receive offers by email rather than by other means, like social media. However, the fact that they prefer this medium does not mean that they want to be bombarded with messages: half of consumers say that the most irritating thing about corporate emails is that too many are sent.

Other studies have also reached similar conclusions, which is why companies must take note that quantity is not the same as quality. In addition, adapting email marketing campaigns to mobile phones must be a priority: 21% of consumers who check messages on their mobile devices find it frustrating that brands do not optimise their messages for use on smartphones.

As we have seen, email is alive and well, and will continue to be: it is still essential at companies, young people use it everywhere, and consumers prefer it over other alternatives.

Do you want to know how you are using email? Try Gmail Meter and receive a complete report on the use of your Gmail account, to improve your habits.