April 24, 2018

Why Your E-mails Really Go Unanswered

-A A +A

Why Your E-mails Really Go Unanswered

Just how fast should you expect a response to your e-mail? A new study examines the response time to learn more about e-mail behavior.

USC Viterbi School of Engineering recently looked at more than 2 million users who exchanged 16 billion e-mails over several months. The researchers discovered some of the following patterns:

Read more: 5 Ways to Build Your E-mail List

  • Responses usually come within an hour: Due to mobile devices, about 50 percent of e-mail replies were sent in less than 60 minutes, the study found.
  • Your e-mail isn’t likely to get a response after 48 hours: Researchers also found that if your e-mail hasn’t been responded to, you’re unlikely to get a response after 48 hours. If the recipient is going to reply, they will likely do so within a day or two of receiving your e-mail.
  • Millennials respond among the fastest: Those between the ages of 20 and 35 have an average response time of 16 minutes (the second fastest behind teenagers, who respond within 13 minutes or less, on average). Response times tend to rise to 24 minutes for those between the ages of 35 to 50 and individuals over the age of 50 take an average of 47 minutes to reply. However, older adults were found to write longer messages compared to younger individuals, according to the study. 
  • Women take longer: Women tend to take longer to craft a response – about four minutes longer – than men.

“If you’ve been emailing someone back and forth for a while – perhaps a potential prospect – there are some telltale signs that the emails have fizzled,” writes Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and the author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” at Forbes.com. “Initially, users mimic one another when it comes to the length of an email. So if you’ve written five paragraphs, expect a similar length e-mail in response. Users usually stay synchronized until the middle of the conversation. So when the other person’s emails start to change, it could signal they’re growing less interested in continuing the conversation. A delay that lasts longer than usual most likely signals the conversation is over.”

Also, Morin notes that the best time to e-mail someone is during normal workday hours, most notably during the morning hours. E-mails received during the weekends and in the afternoon are more likely to get shorter replies.

Source: “Waiting for a Reply? Study Explains the Psychology Behind E-mail Response,” Forbes (Nov. 28, 2015)