Recently we’ve looked at how the proclaimed death of email was a bit premature. Even so, Gmail open rates do appear to be on a steady decline. Is this a bad sign for email usage or is there something else at play?
Gmail open rates have been in constant flux since 2011, according to a report by Litmus. Overall email opens have trended positively upward about 21% over the last two years. This past year, however, told a different tale, with Gmail opens falling 13% since July 2012 and a whopping 18% decline over the past three months! Could Microsoft’s new Outlook.com, now with over 400 million active users be syphoning traffic away from Gmail? Or could Gmail’s own recent changes be the cause behind this fall in open rates?
Change in Gmail Opens
Since Google introduced its Tabbed email feature on May 29 there has been an almost 8% decrease in Gmail opens. This evidence strongly suggests that people are opening fewer emails emails due to Gmail’s new tabs, which helps users avoid email clutter (even at the dismay of email marketers).
Another point to consider, though, is the client people use to open their email. Gmail users are able to open email in a number of clients, including official mobile apps, Outlook, and Apple Mail. Those who open emails in third party clients like Apple Mail do not see their emails sorted into tabs, and these users would be unaffected by the addition of Tabs in Gmail.
Gmail Opens by Client
After analyzing 5 million message openings, Litmus was able to deduce that a 66% majority of Gmail opens occur on mobile devices (on all operating systems combined), while only 19% of Gmail messages are opened via a Web browser. The remaining 15% of Gmails are opened in a desktop client. Shockingly, the number one client for Gmail users is the built-in mail program on the iPhone, accounting for 34% of all opens! Google’s Android devices come second, facilitating 20% of the Gmail opens.
To put this data into perspective, Gmail opens only account for close to 4% of the email opens, and less than half (41%) of those opens occur in email clients that support Gmail tabs. Even though Gmail open rates are slightly down, it could be too early to place all the blame on the new Tabs feature. Even if the Tabs were at fault, few people are likely to complain about seeing fewer emails.
How do you feel about the new tabbed Gmail experience? Does it decrease the number of emails you open? Share with us in the comments section.