June 1, 2011, 1:06 PM

Desktop e-mail access is still number one, but mobile access steadily grows

The number of consumers reading e-mail on mobile devices has grown 81% since October.

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Many consumers are no longer content to wait to return to their desks to check their e-mail messages, according to a new study by Return Path Inc., a provider of e-mail certification and reputation management services. That’s clear as the number of consumers accessing their e-mail via a mobile device has grown by 81% from October.

Despite the strong growth, consumers still retrieve only 16% of e-mail messages on mobile devices. Web-based e-mail services garner the lion’s share at 48%, while desktop access via e-mail software, such as Microsoft Outlook, at 36%, was the second-most popular method.

The fragmentation in how consumers receive messages has not changed retailers’ primary focus—creating and sending marketing messages consumers will act on, Return Path says. However, the challenge is ensuring these messages are accessible via multiple methods.

E-retailers need to contend with the ever-evolving definition of mobile as consumers are increasingly using tablets such as Apple Inc.’s iPad to read their messages. That means retailers must adapt their messages’ formats so that they look good on all the devices consumers use.

Tablets are becoming more common, bringing new kinds of e-mail experiences into new places and times,” Return Path noted in its study. “The art of designing for the small screen may prove to be evolving to the art of designing for the reader on the go.”

Return Path based its report on six months of data from more than 90 of its clients.

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