Email marketing is well established, effective and now, saturated.

One way marketers can give their emails an upper hand when fighting for a consumer’s attention is to optimize email for mobile.

Marketing emails that use responsive design, that is, format messages to the screen size the consumer is using, have a higher click-through rate, according to a study released today by email marketing vendor Yesmail. The study is based on Q4 data from Yesmail clients that sent billions of emails during the quarter, Yesmail says. Yesmail clients include such industries as automotive, business-to-business, consumer packaged goods, customer services, entertainment, financial services, healthcare, hospitality/travel, insurance, publishing, retail and technology. Mobile devices include both smartphones and tablets.

If marketers use responsive design for their marketing emails, 58% of the email’s click through rate would stem from mobile devices, compared to 46.7% of the email’s click through rate for non-responsive designed marketing emails opened on mobile devices, according to the study.

Emails that use responsive design also dominate in the click-to-open rate, which refers to the number of unique clicks a marketing email receives, since sometimes consumers click on multiple links in an email. This is measured by unique clicks over unique opens. Mobile responsive emails have a 16.2% click-to-open rate, meaning 16.2% of consumers who opened the mobile responsive email clicked on a link, compared to 10.4% for non-responsive mobile emails, according to Yesmail.


However, only 17.0% of marketers use responsive design in all of their emails, and more than a quarter of marketers, 26.7%, never use responsive design in their marketing emails, according to Yesmail data. 38.7% of marketers use responsive design in most, or more than 50% of their emails, and 17.6% use responsive design in less than 50% of their emails.

Marketers who don’t use responsive design in their email campaigns are leaving money on the table, says Richard Cohene, vice president of marketing at Canada-based flash-sale e-retailer Beyond the Rack. Since converting its email newsletters to responsive design years ago, Cohene says his company’s conversions from emails on mobile devices have increased 44%.

More consumers are opening messages on mobile. For example, in Q4 2015, 49.0% of consumers receiving marketing email from a Yesmail client opened the email exclusively on a mobile device, more than the 42.2% who opened only on desktop. 8.9% opened emails on both. Numbers don’t add up to 100% because of rounding.

Yesmail data also found that email revenue via mobile devices accounted for 25.7% of all email revenue, and orders placed on mobile devices accounted for 30.4% all email-driven orders. This represents an increase from a year earlier, Q4 2014, when email revenue via mobile device accounted for 22.8% of all email revenue, and orders placed on mobile accounted for 28.0% of all email-driven orders. Mobile email marketing revenue is money earned after a consumer clicks on a link in an email and immediately makes a purchase on the site.

“We’ve noticed that consumers are often using a single platform from start to finish—from opening an email and browsing a website, to placing items in shopping carts and checking them out—all from desktop or mobile,” says Ivy Shtereva, director of marketing at Yesmail. “So if they’re opening emails and buying items directly from phones, they aren’t checking their desktops in between, which only further demonstrates the shift to mobile commerce.”


The average order value of a purchase made on a mobile device after clicking on a promotional email, however, was $104, less than desktop’s average order value of $132.


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