How long should you give prospects to reply to your well-conceived email? Forbes's Amy Morin is reporting the results of a study on email response times.The big headline is that if prospects don't reply within 2 days then they probably wont ever reply. This is consistent with my own experience with another aspect of emailing. Specifically, I've noticed during email marketing campaigns that 98% of the people who are going to open the email, do so within the first 48 hours.
A new study by USC Viterbi School of Engineering researchers examined email responses to learn more about email behavior. By studying more than 2 million users exchanging 16 billion emails over the course of several months, researchers discovered interesting patterns of communication.
Here are some of their key findings:
Expect a response within an hour. Thanks to portable electronic devices, about 50% of replies are sent in fewer than 60 minutes.
After 48 hours days, there’s little chance of a response. There’s a 90% likelihood that you’ll get a response within a day or two if the recipient is going to reply.
Teenagers respond the fastest. It’s probably comes as no surprise that teenagers usually reply in 13 minutes or less.
Young adults aren’t far behind. If you’re emailing someone between 20 and 35, the average response will be 16 minutes. The response time goes up to 24 minutes for individuals ages 35 to 50.
Older adults take the longest. People over age 50 take an average of 47 minutes to reply, but they tend to write longer messages compared to their younger counterparts.
Gender plays a small role. A response from a woman may take about four minutes longer than a response from a man.
Platform matters. Respondents using a laptop tend to take almost twice as long as mobile phone users.
How to Recognize When Responses are Likely to Stop
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. 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 email 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.
The Best Time to Email Someone
Although most people access email at all hours of the day, you’re more likely to get a response during normal workday hours. Emails received during the weekends tend to get shorter replies compared to weekdays, and afternoon emails are also shorter. So the optimal time to send an email is during a weekday morning.
Additionally, keep your emails short. Writing long emails may cause someone to skim over your message. And if it feels too cumbersome to read and reply, you may not get a response at all.
The average email response is only five words long. More than half of email replies are less than 43 words and only 30% of emails are longer than 100 words. So keep your communication short and sweet if you want to stay on good terms.