From our perspective as email marketing consultants, the first and foremost among email marketing best practices might just be, “Assume nothing.” Second to that is probably, “Test everything.”

No assuming and lots of testing: Adhere to those two best practices and you’ll likely make better use of your email marketing budget and staff time, as well as enjoy a higher return on your investment.

The statistics you’re about to see are proof of our “don’t assume, do test” advice. Based on a mobile email open rate study by Knotice, these numbers below are a great illustration of the need to dig a little deeper and get the real story before you make fundamental changes to your email marketing strategy.

Are mobile email open rates really that high?

“Email Opens on Mobile Devices Close to Tipping Point,” the article headline claims…

If you only saw headlines claiming open rates on mobile devices were closing in on the 50% mark, you’d assume that your B2B email marketing better keep pace and be geared towards mobile users, right?

Slow down, because you might be wrong. Delving deeper into the statistics shows that the highest open rate, the one that gets all the headlines and press time, is B2C, with consumer services email getting a 50.3% open rate and hospitality 44.2%. Those are the only industries with open rates near (or over) the tipping point. That open rate doesn’t apply across the board, despite the media’s seeming claim that it does.

Other industries don’t fare as well when it comes to mobile email marketing. Seeing those numbers, what’s your guess for the rate of B2B opens? After all, most professionals carry a mobile phone or tablet, so it’s probably safe to assume that the rate must be pretty high since they’re checking their email on the go anyway.

But that assumption is proven wrong by this study. B2B marketing emails get only a measly 17.3% open rate. That’s less than 20%, even though professionals on the go regularly check email on their phones and mobile devices.

Here’s a better breakdown to really make the point about B2B email marketing:

  • Only 14.56% of emails were opened on a phone
  • And only 2.76% of emails were opened on a tablet
  • While 82.68% of the B2B emails were opened on a desktop

Why this disparity? Why is the open rate so low for B2B while climbing rapidly for B2C?

A plausible reason for low B2B mobile email open rates
Although we haven’t seen a study that claims to explain the disparity, we’ll venture to make an educated guess: because work is work. Mobile professionals likely leave the work-related emails—including your B2B email marketing messages—for those times when they are seated at a laptop or PC. They might be on the road to a meeting or sitting through a business lunch checking their B2C emails, but the B2B emails seem to be the ones that wait for when they are back at work.

The only way to know your own mobile email marketing open rate for certain is to test, however, so don’t take these numbers as written in stone, but do take them as a caution against assuming all email marketing statistics apply across the board.

And then there’s the device…
Mobile devices are another factor to consider with mobile email marketing. What kind of mobile device does your audience favor? If it’s not an iPhone or a Droid, chances are mobile email marketing need not be a big part of your B2B strategy, at least not yet. The iPhone and iPad generated almost 33% of the open rates while the Droid OS garnered over 6.5%, making up 99.8% of all mobile email opens (for B2C emails, of course). Again, the headlines might claim really high open rates are in our near future, but that’s only for certain industries and only on certain devices.

We’re all in support of being mobile ready with your email marketing, even if you’re a B2B marketer. But we’re also supportive of dollars and time well spent. So make sure you know your potential return on investment before you invest too much in mobile.

Is your company doing B2B email marketing? Would you concur with these findings? What kind of mobile email open rates do you get? What devices does your audience favor?

See the full Knotice report for all the details about the open rates for B2B email marketing.

Published On: May 13th, 2013Categories: Email marketing best practices

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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