63% of Emails Are Opened on Mobile - Optimize or Get Deleted [2021 Study]

Written by Michael Cheney. Posted on 5th February 2021

Emails Opened on MobileMore and more emails are opened on mobile devices than ever before.

We analyzed every piece of research we could find, in this meta-analysis, which shows a whopping 63% of emails are now opened on a mobile device.

Why is this important?


If you don't optimize your emails for mobile, a staggering 72% of mobile users will delete your email (more on this in a sec).


Let's take a look at all the research in detail, how to get more opens from your mobile emails and how to make them mobile-responsive...

#1. Your Prospects Have Embraced Mobile - Have You?

We are all addicted to our phones.

But, how important is mobile usage in terms of internet usage, sales, and email?

Let's take a look...

Firstly, here's the data on mobile traffic across the globe;

Global Internet Traffic by Device

Pretty conclusive - mobile is now the most-popular way to access the internet.

Hardly surprising...

But does this also lead to more purchases on mobile devices though?

Data from Smart Insights revealed that $1 billion in sales came from mobile emails (during their study of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on Shopify).

In fact, mobile usage is now so prevalent, people in the US are using their cellphones more than they watch TV (EMarketer);

Mobile Usage More Popular Than TV


On average, people in the US spend 3hrs 54 mins on their cellphones a day - over half an hour longer than TV viewing time per day.

We truly are addicted to our cellphones - they're an integral part of our lives as this study found;

Mobile Usage Statistics

Just look at these numbers and you'll see how dependent on their phones, people truly are;

  • 79.5% of people use their phone as an alarm
  • 87.8% feel uneasy about leaving their cellphone at home
  • 55.4% admit to using phone while driving
  • 75.4% self-confess to feeling addicted to their phones
  • We Are Addicted to Our Cellphones65.6% check their cellphones upto 160 times per day!
  • 57.4% use their phone while on a date
  • 64.2% confess to texting someone in the same room
  • 60.6% have upgraded their cell in the last 12 months

The question is;

Is this also reflected in the data about email usage though?

A detailed study found that;

  • 55% of people check their email before they go to work in the morning
  • 17% of people in the US check their email the moment they wake up
  • 33% of millennials check their email the moment they wake up

And it's not just checking emails either.

This also translates into purchases and other online transactions.

As production of 5G phones ramps up, people will be performing more of their internet, viewing and purchasing habits on mobile, as this data shows;

5G Smartphone Shipments Worldwide

It's predicted that there will 424.5 Million 5G phones shipments a year by 2023!

With widespread access to high-speed internet, this paves the way to mobile usage being the everyday way to access the internet and make purchases.

Cellphone ownership is way up too.

The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 81%, up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011.

Add to this, the fact that data shows more and more emails are being sent every day;

Number of Emails sent Per Day

The number of people using email, worldwide, is also growing rapidly, as a Statista study shows.

In 2019, the number of global e-mail users amounted to 3.9 billion.

This is set to grow to 4.48 billion e-mail users in 2024;

  • 2019 - 3.93 billion email users
  • 2020 - 4.04 billion email users
  • 2021 - 4.15 billion email users
  • 2022 - 4.26 billion email users
  • 2023 - 4.37 billion email users
  • 2024 - 4.48 billion email users

The trend towards checking email on a mobile device is highlighted by the uptake of Google's Gmail service.

According to Statista, there were 1.5 billion Gmail users in 2018.

TechJury measured this to have grown to 1.8 billion Gmail users in 2020;

Growth of Gmail Users Worldwide

Gmail currently owns 43% of the email service market share, according to 2020 data.

This is important, because 75% of all Gmail users access their email on mobile devices.

To put this into even sharper perspective;

Litmus shows 27% of all email opens worldwide take place on Gmail!

In short;

Your emails need to look great on Gmail and mobile, otherwise your opens, clicks and sales will suffer.

So just how many people are using mobile to read their emails?

Let's take a look...

#2. The Ever-Growing Number of People Opening Emails on Mobile

Checking Email on CellphoneOn average, 63% of people open emails on mobile.

This is meta-analysis of several studies - some of which are also aggregate studies!

Statista - 43%
Litmus - 67%
Adestra - 61.9%
Adobe - 85%
e-village & Clang - 60%
Fluent - 59%

Average Across All Studies = 63% of people open their emails on a mobile device

That's the headline but let's dive in to the details...

According to Fluent, 59% of respondents check their personal email on mobile devices, while 65% check their email at home;

Where Do People Check Their Email

The e-village & Clang study on email opens in Holland revealed 60% of mail opens are on mobile devices;

Which Device Do People Read Emails On

Adobe's Email Use in the US Report states that;

  • 81% of respondents uses a smartphone for regularly checking emails
  • 21% uses a tablet
  • Smartphones are the most popular device (especially for those aged under 35 and females)

This ties in with the data from Adestra which found 61.9% of email opens occurred on mobile, 9.8% on desktop and 28.3% in a webmail client.

Statista ran a study in December 2018 which found 43 percent of e-mail opens were via mobile

Litmus data concurs that mobile remains the most popular reading environment;

Email Opens by Reading Environment

If you take into account that, by Google's own data, 75% of Gmail opens are on mobile, then opens on mobile are likely to be even higher (67%);

Mobile Email Opens Breakdown

This all points to the fact, that;

You need to be catering your email marketing towards the ever-growing, mobile email audience.

In fact...

#3. Your Emails Will Get Deleted if You Don't Optimize for Mobile

Delete EmailsIf your emails look weird on mobile they are likely to be deleted within 3 seconds, according to data from Adestra.

In fact, having a badly-formatted email is the #1 complaint about emails on mobile.

It doesn't matter how great your content is.

Your subscribers are likely to delete it in under 3 seconds (in >70% of cases), if it looks badly formatted.

You think that's bad?

"Upto 22% of recipients will even go so far as to unsubscribe completely, if your email looks odd on mobile."


This means you could be losing 92% of your potential customers who check their emails on their mobile device.

But if you take the time to create mobile-optimized emails - your opens, clicks and sales will improve.

You should see a 38%-40% improvement, according to Flexmail's Belgium study;

Results from mobile email optimization

Optimization for mobile is the way forward, because;

Ugly emails get deleted, as this data from Adestra illustrates;

Emails Get Deleted on Mobile If Not Optimized

Research differs slightly, but the takeaway is the same;

Create emails which look bad on mobile, and you will take a hit, as this data clearly shows;

What People Do With Badly Formatted Emails on Mobile

But is sending out non-responsive emails to mobile devices really such a big deal?

Yes, it is.

According to research from 250OK and 42labs, 39% of recipients reported the marketing emails they received, were not well-designed for their mobile device.

So make sure you avoid these pitfalls...

#4. The Four Deadly Sins of Mobile Emails

Here are some quick insights on what you need to watch out for when creating emails for mobile;

#1. Images that look whack

Image Formatting for Mobile Emails

This could be hugely oversized images or images which just appear in the wrong place.

Your graphical masterpiece of an email template might look like a Michelangelo when you view it on a desktop.

But the chances are;

It looks like a cheap, Picasso-knock-off on mobile.

Something else you need to avoid is...

#2. Death by Text Overload

Too Much Text Email

Your email needs words.

Avoid ramming thousands of words down your subscribers throats.

Especially in mobile emails.

A couple of sentences can take up a full screen on mobile.

If you forget to add line breaks, frequently, your email is going to turn people off.

They just won't read it.

Instead; take a look at the content here, on this page.

Notice how I insert in a line break, at the end of every sentence?

It keeps things easy to read.

It makes it easier on the eye, and breaks up detailed content into easier-to-digest chunks.

#3. Using Columns without a Mobile-Responsive Equivalent

Columns suck on mobile.

They just don't work - all columns usually just end up looking distorted, or the information ends up being put one piece after another, vertically.

If in doubt: leave it out.

Personally, I would have to question the sanity of anyone wanting to send an email which has columns.

Keep it simple;

Stick to text, a link and possibly an occasional image.

Emails are most effective when the persuasion and call to action is done with words and not with fancy templates or layouts.

#4. Forgetting to Add Alt Text

Add Alt Tags to Describe Images

Yes, we were all taught it since HTML-Kindergarten;

Add alternative image tag descriptions on all your images.

It helps with SEO, but more importantly;

If your subscriber is trying to read your email in a low-signal area, there's a chance they're just going to see a broken picture symbol and nothing else.

Without an alt tag they won't know what the hell you were trying to show.

You're looking at another deleted email or unsubscribe, right there.

Sort it out.

Okay now let's take a look at...

#5. Two Ways To Make Mobile-Responsive Emails

There are two basic ways to achieve this - one is hard, slow and can be expensive.

The other is easy, fast and free.

Let's tackle the first method;

Way 1. Using Responsive CSS-driven Templates

Responsive CSS Template for Mobile Emails

In a nutshell - CSS is like a little robot inside an email or webpage which looks (amongst other things) at what type of device the content is being viewed on.

You can add rules into CSS so that if the content is being viewed on a mobile device you can hide, replace or resize various content elements.

This means you can have an email which looks great on desktop AND on mobile.

The CSS recognizes what device is being used and makes the changes.

But you need to code or design these variations, or...

Pay someone to do this for you.

Like I say - hard, slow and expensive.

Not for you?

I totally understand, this is where the second method comes in;

Way 2. Send Simple Text-Based Emails

Send Text Email Using HTML

You just send simple emails, which are almost completely made up of text.

My business has made millions of dollars in sales doing just that.

Don't get me wrong - we still send our emails in HTML format, it's just that HTML is used solely to convey textual information.

No fancy templates.

No fancy coding or CSS.

Just plain old words and the occasional image.

It's easy, free and fast.

What's more - sending simple emails like this gets you better open rates and response rates.

Your emails resemble personal emails.

As such, they don't turn on people's "Promotion Radar". You can really start to build rapport with your subscriber-base this way.

Okay, now here are some...

#6. Pro Tips for Getting More Opens and Clicks on Mobile

1. Keep It Short and Concise

Reading Emails on Mobile

Everything gets scrunched up on a mobile device.

You don't want people to have to wade through oodles of bunched up text.

Get in, present the call to action, and get out.

This applies to writing the best subject lines too.

2. Test, Test and Test Again

Make sure you are testing out what your emails look like on various devices.

Is the subject line readable on one line?

Does the main content flow easily?

Can you see everything properly without having to zoom in?

Is reading your emails on a cellphone an easy and enjoyable experience?

3. How to Make Your Layout Mobile-Friendly

Here's some pro tips for you, if you decide to create a more graphical and HTML-intensive, email template;

  • Stick to a single-column layout
  • Don't go wider than 640 pixels (otherwise you risk things going off-screen or looking whack when they get auto-resized)
  • Consider hiding content which just is not going to work on mobile
  • Remember the minimum font size on Apple iPhone is 13 pixels (so if you go smaller, it will get scaled up and could break your layout or design)


You now know the importance of making your emails mobile-friendly, and how to do it.

As more and more people use their mobile device to check their email and make purchases online, it's important you embrace this growing-trend.

Now grab this free training on how to turn your emails into money;


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