As Gmail turns 10 today, it's a reminder of how many of us continue to remain reliant on email for work and for interpersonal communications. And even though other digital channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have continued to gain prominence, we've also seen email marketing adapt and evolve. For instance, half of consumers now read emails only on their mobile devices, demonstrating the growth of mobile email, open rates, and conversion, according to Yesmail Interactive's most recent Email Marketing Compass report.Yesmail's analysis of 6.4 billion emails sent during the fourth quarter on behalf of clients across different industries offers other revealing trends. Email-generated mobile sales grew at triple the rate of desktop sales (52 percent versus 18 percent, respectively). In addition, 55 percent of all email opens occurred on a mobile device while hybrid email viewership dropped by nearly 40 percent.
Even though Gmail hasn't been around as long as its freemail rivals (AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo!), its users were the most engaged among the four email services, with 19 percent of all Gmail users being active within the past year compared with 14 percent, 12 percent, and 10 percent for Yahoo!, Hotmail, and AOL, respectively, according to the Yesmail study. For its part, Gmail became the world's largest email provider in October 2012, according to ComScore.
Of course, knowing which customers you're trying to reach, the devices they're using, and the content they're most likely to find engaging are all critical components of email marketing. Generally speaking, Gmail users tend to be younger and more digitally savvy, says Bob Sybydlo, director of market intelligence and deliverability at Yesmail.
Marketers also need to understand the differences between the customer experience on a smartphone versus a desktop or a tablet. "The open duration rates are much shorter on smartphones, so consumers need to get what the email is about right away," says Sybydlo.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how email marketing becomes even more integrated with social media and other channels that haven't yet emerged. Once thing seems clear - just as email keeps chugging along, email marketing will also continue to evolve.