Email client market share – A deep dive

by | Tue 14 Jul, 20

For the vast majority of desktop and mobile users (we’re talking 80+ per cent of people) they have at least one active email account with an email client.
Have you ever wondered which email client is the biggest? Who the rising stars were in the millennium boom? Perhaps you’re expecting there to be a monopoly…
Whatever your questions about email market share involve, hopefully this article will answer them for you – Let’s take a deep dive into the topic of email client market share, and discuss the tips to ensure you take full advantage of the trends.

Today’s email client market

As of July 2020, what do you think the email client market is shaped like? Is there any obvious email client that springs to mind, maybe… Gmail? If you were already thinking of Gmail then props to you!
As you’ll see in a moment, we have listed the current top 7 email clients – For reference purposes, these rankings are displayed by, and are measured by Litmus, so if you ever want to see if the rankings have changed, you can do so at any time. Now these rankings aren’t based on revenue or profit figures – Rather they are based upon the number of email opens for all clients. 
Out of 1.1 billion email opens, they have categorised which email clients had the largest share of those opens. Just thought we would give you a heads up as revenue doesn’t mean everything…
Gmail 38% 
Apple iPhone 28%
Apple Mail 10% 
Outlook 9%
Yahoo! Mail 4%
Apple iPad 2%
Samsung Mail 1%
Quite unsurprisingly, we can see that the email clients we deal with day to day as email marketers are at the top of the list. Gmail, Outlook and Apple Mail are email clients we all know and use to some degree, whether it is all three of them, or just one.
Mail icon on phone for email marketing

Email clients and your mailing lists

A good takeaway from this post will be to take the time to find out which email clients your audience are mainly using. We should tell you that the industry share isn’t necessarily going to be the same share for your email list – You may have more mobile users, so you could see more email subscribers using Apple Mail or Samsung Mail compared to Yahoo! Mail or Outlook.
With different email clients comes the task of being able to tailor your email marketing for every client that somebody in your list is using. Even if only 5 per cent of your audience are using Outlook, you want to make sure there aren’t any problems with reading the content within your email.

Test the emails yourself first – Adapt your content when necessary

A great tip we can recommend for you is to create test accounts for every email client you know you’ll be sending emails to. We know that different emails come with different coding formats, more (or less) HTML and image blocking options etc. It is very important to know how many words you get to fit in your subject lines and pre-header for each email client.
Email clients that are only used on mobiles and tablets, such as Samsung Mail, are likely to offer a lower amount of words on the preview of your subject lines. If you know a large proportion of your email subscribers are on mobile, you want to be keeping your subject lines short. 
Yahoo email marketing

Optimise for the mobile users – There are a lot of them!

Mobile-based email clients generally offer a little more than 40 characters per subject line, so if you don’t take this into consideration, a longer subject line is going to be cut out midway through, possibly leading to confusion among mobile subscribers, and we know confusion discourages email opens. For your own notes, Gmail offers a maximum of 70 characters for a subject line
More than half of all emails are opened on the elusive mobile phone. This means you can’t just fixate your email marketing towards the desktop or web mail that you’re probably more comfortable working with – Mobile users need emails that are engaging and optimised.
So we have established that mobile users will be a popular demographic in your mailing list – So you have to optimise your emails towards them too. Keep things simple. You don’t want to be forcing your mobile subscribers into pinching on their screens and trying to zoom in on images and text that aren’t properly formatted. The best emails look just as good on mobile as they do on desktop.
The reason why mobile-based email usage is so high is probably because online shopping through mobiles is also rising at a fast rate. It is easier than ever to buy products on apps via the App Store or the Google Play Store.
If you can make your email attachments and links work on mobile to then direct your recipients straight to your products within an app, you’re onto a winner. Mobile browsing is far quicker than on desktop, so it is very important you take advantage of that preference people in this day and age have.
In the topic of email client market share, there are some essential techniques you should put in place, to ensure your emails reach everyone in your list, in a format they can appreciate, in one way or another…

Tip 1 – Offer your recipient a web page viewing option

If you only know what your emails look like in Outlook, it’s not worth the risk to just pump out the email as you see it. At least as a backup option, offer a link to your recipients to view your email in a web page instead. This will give them a second chance at viewing the important elements of your email, increasing the chances of further engagement, as opposed to turning people away with what you could assume is poor email design, based on what you see in other email clients.
We know emails aren’t read for long (Around 11 seconds if you’re lucky!), so by capitalising on the interest your recipient has shown by opening your email in the first place, you can reassure yourself in the knowledge that they’ll be able to view your email in a readable and engaging format within a web browser, as opposed to their email client.

Tip 2 – Always use preheader text

Every email client is going to have a pre-header in their preview and open email format. If you test your preheader against multiple email clients, you can get an idea as to the optimum length you should be using, that way you will grab a better understanding of which sections of your preheader are being missed off – That’s where you draw the reader in by encouraging them to read on.

Tip 3 – Include alt-text, to ensure your images are understood

Spam emails are a big problem in the email marketing industry, they make people hesitant to open images and links. For others, it leads them to block images in their email client altogether. If your emails contain images, you want to ensure you are using alt-text, so that different email clients will caption the area your images are taking up. Alt-text gives you the chance to improve your reputation as a genuine email contact, as it give readers the curiosity and confidence to turn their images back on.
The software built into most email clients is great in the sense they can read images and create a relevant caption based off your image – As we know, a lot of images marketers use are funky text with uniquely coloured backgrounds, so alt-text can even be a direct back-up of your image-based content.

Tip 4 – Have a text-only version of your email ready to display

Some email users simply like the email client they are using because it is optimised to work with emails that contain text only. By having a text-only format of your email, you can cater to those readers who like a toned down, simplified text version of your email, so they can gather the important points without having to scroll through big images and funky titles.
Reading email marketing data by device

Key pointers for you to take away

  • Email client market share is constantly changing – Outlook and Yahoo! Mail both have seen large increases in their market shares. Outlook due to the increased adoption of Microsoft’s other services such as SharePoint and Office 365. Yahoo! Mail’s growth will have been caused by the Verizon & AOL merger that they were tied into.
  • Different email clients will display text, images, links, AND emojis differently – Take Gmail for example: They have different emoji formats for when an email is previewed, compared to when an email is opened.
  • The statistics for market share might not be the same for your email marketing – But take it as a good sign that probably more than 1 in 4 people are using Gmail to view your emails.
  • It won’t cost you a fortune to design your emails so they work against all clients. In fact, if you use Mailchimp, you can try our free guide out, so you can make templates that will keep your reader engagement high, and opens a-plenty!

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