I’m very excited to announce the launch of a brand new initiative from the Campaign Monitor team. Today we’re pulling the curtains back on Email Stats and Reports, a brand new resource aimed at making use of the mountains of email marketing data we’ve been capturing over the last five years.

Email client usage for February 2009

The first report is called Email Client Popularity and we think it’s pretty cool. To date, figuring out which email clients are popular has been nothing more than guesswork. Our new email client report launched last month changed all that. In the largest study of its kind ever undertaken, we analyzed more than 250 million opens over the last 6 months to give a birds eye view of email client popularity and usage trends over time. Head on over to the new stat center now and check out the report.

Trends over the last 6 months

While it’s always interesting to see which email clients are popular right now, looking at how usage changes over time is where this report really starts to shine. For example, you can see as Outlook 2007 usage starts to increase, older versions are starting to become less popular. Web-based email providers are continuing to grab market share, as are Apple’s key clients Apple Mail 3 and the iPhone.

Movers and shakers

This report was my personal favorite. By comparing how market share changes over time, we can highlight which email clients are growing and shrinking the fastest.

Movers and Shakers

Its clear that Apple is setting the pace holding the top 3 spots for the fastest growing email clients (iPod Touch, iPhone 2.0 and then Apple Mail 3). The fact that iPhone 1.0 and Apple Mail 2 are the fastest shrinking email clients also shows just how quickly Apple users are upgrading to the latest and greatest.

Just the beginning

We’ll be updating this report each month with the latest figures so you can all keep an eye on where the trends are heading. We’re also continuing to refine our reports to better identify all email clients (e.g. we’re currently working on a better way to track different versions of Lotus Notes). We’ve also got a number of other reports we think you’ll find useful, and will have more news on them soon.

A quick caveat

While we’ve put a lot of work into accurately detecting which email clients are being used, this report is not without its limitations. The client being used can only be detected if images are displayed. This can give an inflated weighting to email clients that display images by default, such as Outlook 2000 and the iPhone. It will also provide a lesser weighting to those that block images by default such as Gmail and Outlook 2007.

This certainly doesn’t impact how usage is changing over time, but it does mean we can’t guarantee the exact market share percentage is spot on the money. It’s also important to remember that while this sweeping report is interesting to know, every list is different, so the only way to really know which email clients you should be designing for is to send them a campaign and check the report.

  • Paul

    That would be great if we could access those stats from the API

  • Stefano Bagnara

    How do you recognize AppleMail from people using a webmail (on https or anyway blocking the referer) with Safari ?

  • Stefano Bagnara

    It would be very interesting to have a similar report for country specific TLDs of recipients.

    In italy we have 2 major webmail providers (libero.it and alice.it/virgilio.it) that from my statistic are used by 23% of recipients (half of trackable webmail users, that are 43% of the whole audience).

  • Mike Bowzeylo

    Nice! Actually a little surprised at the overall results. I didn’t expect Yahoo mail to be so popular. Scratching my head to think of someone I know that uses a Yahoo address.

    I wonder how this changes with demograph and industry.

    I just checked a few of my client’s campaigns… Outlook 2000, 2003, Express is still at the top… then HotMail… and Yahoo is way down the list with never more than 5%.

  • egidiocs

    Not surprised. It reflects corporate IT and internet scenario. MS Outlook heading, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail at 2nd place. Massive emailing started up by 1997/98 and there were only yahoo and microsoft as players on web-based email. Present reflecting past.

    But the most expressive movement, and again no surprise, is iPhone and Apple in general, getting more and more share!

    And for sure , as Mike Bowzeylo said in comments, if categorized by demograph and industry, shares change completelly.

  • David Greiner

    @Stefano We’re looking at the user-agent , which makes it easy to spot the difference between Apple Mail, Safari, Outlook 2007, etc.

  • orhan

    I think this research is misleading because gmail has pop3 and smtp support so does hotmail. that refers to a shift from web based mail to desktop based email clients. so it would be more meaningful if we had two categories. as a home pc user, i check my mail through web while i use a desktop based email client at work. for example if i am using gmail through office outlook that should not decrease the share of gmail.
    second maybe there are thousands of companies who provides unique email addresses to their employees where they use outlook for their electronic mail and they also has another personal email address from hotmail. for the sake of simplicity they may add both email accounts into outlook which may result a misleading conclusion.
    one should scrutinize the behavior of email client users

  • Stefano Bagnara

    @David, I know what the UserAgent is and that’s why I wondered how you did made difference betweek AppleMail and Safari because from my tests AppleMail send the same useragent of Safari. That’s why I wonder what the real User-Agents are.
    Safari user-agent with referer => webmail user using safari
    Safari user-agent with no referer => Apple Mail
    Otherwise, what’s in the Apple Mail user-agent making it unique?
    The same question can be made about how do you recognize Outlook 2003 from an user browsing a webmail (and blocking the referer) using IE. Outlook Express and Outlook (excluding 2007) simply pass the user-agent of the installed IE.
    I think it worth knowing exactly what assumption has been made to make this classification.

    @orhan: this stat should not be used to define how much each provider is used. For that you should use the email address domains. Instead this stat show what client is used to render/preview the email. It is very useful when you do email design tests, because you know what most of your users will see.

  • David Greiner

    @Stefano, thanks for the follow up. I’ve had the chance to go into more detail with our engineers about this, and they confirmed that you’re 100% correct. If someone is using a webmail provider and it’s blocking the referrer (for example, if it’s behind an SSL connection), then all we’ll have is the user-agent and that will result in a vote for the desktop client that uses that browser version.

    In the case of IE, that would be Outlook 2000/2003/Express. For Apple Mail, we also look at the OS version to decide if we should credit Apple Mail 2 or 3. So, you’re completely right that this will result in a slightly inflated count for those two desktop clients.

    @orhan, @Stefono is spot on there. The aim of this study is to show email client popularity, not which provider has the most users. It’s all about figuring out which email client to design for.

  • Rene

    great work! and thanks for making the analysis transparent…

  • ephilei

    So Microsoft > 55%. Depressing.

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