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Without doubt, the biggest frustration for us email designers is the huge variety of email clients we need to test our designs in. It’s a monumental challenge that makes building and testing HTML emails far more difficult than designing for the web.

Today, I’m super excited to announce that we’ve officially solved this problem. Yes, you read that right. For every campaign you send, we’ll now provide a clear breakdown of exactly which email clients your subscribers are using. Is anyone really using Lotus Notes? How many subscribers are actually using Outlook 2007? Should I be testing my emails on an iPhone? Up until now that’s been total guesswork. No longer.

Sample email client report

What’s so cool about this?

In a single new report, email has just caught up with the web. It’s easy to look at your web analytics and decide it’s not worth testing in IE6 any more. Now you can be just as informed about which email clients to worry about.

Personally, this report has already been a huge help for our own email newsletters. I never would have guessed that more than 7% of our subscribers open our emails on their iPhone, which has more than doubled since a newsletter I sent last August. If the trend continues it will be more popular than both Gmail and Outlook 2007 for our next issue. Crazy. Likewise, I never would have assumed that AOL, MobileMe and Entourage make up less than 1% of my subscribers combined. They certainly won’t be getting as much attention in the future.

As well as showing which email clients are being used, the report also splits them up by version. This is crucial for email clients like Outlook, where your real concern is Outlook 2007 users (which has poor standards support) as opposed to those using previous versions (which have great standards support). We also list the 8 most popular clients at the top of the report so you can quickly see the versions that need your attention.

Everyone’s different

Sweeping statements about B2B subscribers using Outlook/Lotus Notes and B2C using Hotmail/Yahoo!/Gmail have officially been blown out of the water. The most surprising thing we discovered building this report was just how different the results looked for different senders. Even companies in very similar industries still showed some big differences.

That’s what makes this report so useful. You can completely tailor your design and testing process on a client-by-client basis to guarantee you cover all the important email clients and don’t waste a minute of your time on those that aren’t. It’s a huge time saver.

How do we know what your subscribers are using?

The accuracy of this report is something we’ve been working hard on. We analyzed more than 200 million opens over the last 6 months to ensure we had a consistent way to detect more than 20 of the most popular email clients out there. We’ve also been careful to build this in a way that adapts to the market. We can easily update your reports if a new version of a client is released and we’ll continue to refine our tracking to keep the report as accurate as possible.

There is one small caveat. We can only detect an email client when an image is displayed. If your recipients email client blocks images and they don’t enable them, or doesn’t support images at all (older versions of Blackberry and Windows Mobile for example) they won’t appear in your report.

The best part is, we’ve been capturing your subscribers email clients for the last 6 months, so it’s already available for any campaigns you’ve sent in that time. If you’re a previous MailBuild customer, you can check it out for any campaigns sent since the merger last December.

We’ve got some exciting plans about helping you get the most out of this data in the future, which we can’t wait to share with you. In the mean time, head into your campaign reports and take the guesswork out of your email design.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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