Email is going mobile, with more people checking their mail using their smartphones rather than via web-based browers.
A new study by ComScore found that in November 2010, the number of users accessing email via their mobile inboxes grew by 36 percent, with 30 percent of 70.1 million mobile subscribers accessing email via their smartphones.
During the same period, the number of visitors to web-based email sites declined 6 percent compared to the previous year, while email engagement declined at an even greater rate.
More people also checked their mobile emails on a daily basis. Daily usage of email grew by 40 percent as 43.5 million users turned to their mobile devices on a nearly daily basis for their email communication needs.
However, the trend points to the rapid advances of technology rather than a fundamental shift in the way email is used to communicate.
Just last week, the internet monitoring website, Pingdom, reported that 107 trillion emails were sent during 2010, most of which was Spam.
ComScore said that an increasingly complex digital environment was influencing consumers’ communication habits.
“Digital communication has evolved rapidly in the last few years with an ever-increasing number of ways for Internet users to communicate with one another,” said Mark Donovan, ComScore senior vice president of mobile.
“From PCs to mobile devices, whether its email, social media, IM or texting, consumers have many ways to communicate and can do so at any time and in any place. The decline in web-based email is a byproduct of these shifting dynamics and the increasing availability of on-demand communication options.”
The company analysed web-based email trends in the US, where more than 153 million people visited web-based email providers. In terms of engagement, overall time spent on emails via the web declined 9 percent, while total pages viewed dropped 15 percent.
Those between the ages of 12-17 showed the sharpest decline in usage of web-based email during the past year, declining by 24 percent, while engagement fell by half as total minutes decreased 48 percent and total pages dropped 53 percent.
Engagement also declined among users aged 18-54.
In contrast, usage increased among those 55 and over. The number of 55-64 year olds accessing web-based email increased 15 percent with similar gains in engagement, while those age 65+ experienced gains across all three metrics as well.
Email usage via mobile devices has however, experienced significant growth, driven largely by increased smartphone adoption.
Accessing mobile email increased by double-digits across all age segments.
Younger age groups showed a greater propensity to check emails from their mobile devices, with those aged 25-34 being 60 percent more likely to access email than an average mobile user, and the 18-24 age group being 46 percent more likely to do so.
Overall, males were 14 percent more likely to be users of mobile email.
Continued Donovan: “What we have seen in the smartphone era is the rapid acceleration of data consumption, which has helped drive mobile usage across multiple categories including email.
“In a relatively short period of time, adoption of mobile email has reached 78 percent of the smartphone population, which is very similar to the penetration of web-based email among Internet users. These findings demonstrate just how quickly channel shifts can occur and why it’s now essential for media brands to have a strong presence in both arenas.”