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Trends Q: Do 80% of recipients really delete a mobile email if it doesn’t look good? (Part 2)

photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Jan 14, 2020

Last week we discovered, somewhat surprisingly, that responsiveness had very little impact on whether a mobile email was considered to not “look good.” Surveys suggest that 80% of such emails are deleted, but is there anything in the performance of our sample that would support what internet users are claiming? Let’s take a look.

The Goods
There is no feedback loop that tells us marketers whether an email was deleted, but we do have access to unsubscribe rates. According to the original survey 30% would unsubscribe if a mobile email “doesn’t look good,” so we’ll use that as our indicator.

On that point, let’s build our theory based on what we know. First, the responsive emails in our sample were rated as “doesn’t look good” 25.7% of the time. For non-responsive templates that number was 26.6%. If 30% of recipients unsubscribed from those emails and 38% of all emails are opened on mobile, we should see at least 2.9% and 3.0% unsubscribe rates respectively. Remember, this is a minimum because we’re not factoring opt-outs driven by other reasons. Here’s what we found.

For the emails in our sample the unsubscribe rate over the last 9 months was 0.24% for responsive (12x higher than theory) and 0.23% for non-responsive (13x higher than theory). Not only were they nearly identical, but both of these numbers are very close to the average unsubscribe rate for our clients going back to the pre-iPhone era.

What This Means
We see no indication that people are any more likely (let alone 12x as likely) to unsubscribe if they think a mobile email “doesn’t look good” and, as such, we’d expect the same to be true of deleting an email as well. In other words, takeaway #2 would be:

People will unsubscribe from emails, but responsiveness doesn’t appear to impact how many actually do. (tweet this)

To be clear, there are many reasons – including a measurable increase in click rate – to consider responsive email templates as you work to make your templates more mobile friendly. Mobile is growing too quickly to not do something in that regard. But the theory that huge numbers of recipients will delete or unsubscribe if you don’t doesn’t appear to hold any water.

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