Email is one of the oldest forms of web-based communication, and over 100 billion are sent every day. Now researchers have analyzed the email habits of 2 million users, drawing on a sample of 16 billion emails, making it one of the largest email usage studies ever undertaken, writes Liz Neporent for ABC News.
Surprisingly short reply time
Almost 90% of email users replied to messages within 24 hours, and approximately 50% responded in around 47 minutes. However, a lightning-fast reply time of 2 minutes was the most frequently observed.
With regard to the length of messages, the study found that most email replies were between 5 and 43 words. Only 30% of emails contained 100 words or more. It was also found that reply times became faster as email exchanges progressed, although it was observed that the last exchange as usually slower, perhaps because there was little left to discuss.
The length of emails also increased as the conversation progressed, although the last reply was usually short. It should be no surprise to hear that emails sent during the night or over the weekend received slower and short replies. It appears that the best time to send emails is at the beginning of the working day, when longer replies were received faster.
Emails: Variation between demographics
Younger demographics answered emails the fastest, with teenagers and younger children taking an average of 13 minutes to send a reply of around 17 words. Those users over 51 years of age sent a reply of approximately 40 words an average of 47 minutes after receiving a message.
Slight differences between genders were also noticed, with men taking 24 minutes to answer compared to 28 minutes for women. However both groups sent an average of 30 words in reply. Mobile phone users replied to emails in 28 minutes, compared to 57 minutes for tablet users, while desktop users replied in a relatively tardy 62 minutes.
Users who received over 100 emails per day only responded to approximately 5% of them, compared to 25% for those who received fewer messages. It was also noted that users who received large numbers of emails increased their activity in an attempt to manage their inbox, but were often overloaded. Those under 25 were better at handling flurries of emails, sending shorter, faster replies as messages piled up.