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The Way We Read Work Email is Changing

Email Behavior Changes

In a world where more email is sent than ever (up 53% from 2014), understanding what kinds of messages are sent, and when those messages are sent is both useful and important. Like many of you, my inbox is out of control. When I read about inbox zero, I can’t help but be a little pessimistic about the volume and manner in which the emails are responded to.

In fact, if it weren’t for SaneBox and MailButler (using my referral links there), I’m not sure how I’d handle my email. Sanebox does a fantastic job at learning which of my emails require immediate attention and MailButler offers me the opportunity to delay responses, snooze emails, and enhances Apple Mail with a number of other features.

In common with both platforms is that my inbox is manipulated between folders. I’m not limited to just an Inbox, Junk Folder, and Trash anymore… these systems are routing messages in and out of several other folders. While these are great tools for me, they must wreak havoc on the email metrics of the senders who are trying to reach me. Email behavior is changing, and these tools are just one example of how.

To research email behavior changes, ReachMail recently surveyed 1000 people to learn what it means to manage their inboxes. Some key findings:

  • Morning Email – 71% of Americans check for the first time between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. New York and New Jersey average the latest first check—just before 9 a.m.—and people in Utah check earliest, just after 6:30 a.m., on average.
  • Evening Email – 30% of Americans check before 6 p.m. and 70% after 6 p.m. 46% of Virginians check their email for the last time between 9 p.m. and midnight, while 13% more finish up after midnight. Not to be outdone, 71% of Tennesseans are fellow night owls, checking their email after 9 p.m., and just 12% check last before 6 p.m., well below the national average.
  • Sending Emails – Nearly half of all Americans (46%) send fewer than 10 emails per day. 30% of people send 10 to 25 emails per day, 16% send 25 to 50, and 8% send more than 50 emails per day. The West has the lowest average of sent emails, at 18 per day. The Northeast tops all regions and averages 22 sent emails per day, while Massachusetts has the national high of 28 emails sent per day, on average.
  • Response Time –  58% of Americans say they respond to emails within one hour. 26% respond within one to six hours, 11% respond within six to 24 hours and the remaining 5% respond after 24 hours, on average. Virginians report the quickest email replies with an average response time of just over two hours. New Yorkers, surprisingly, are on the slow end—12% say they average a day or more to respond and 33% take at least six hours.
  • Unread Emails – Over half of Americans have less than 10 unread emails in their work inbox. 26% report having less than 50 unread emails, 13% have more than 100 unread emails and 6% have between 50 and 100. South Carolina reports the most unread emails, with an average of 29, while a whopping 30% of Tennesseans report having more than 100 unread emails. The Midwest has the fewest, with an average of 17.

ReachMail produced this infographic: American Inbox 2: The Reckoning to illustrate the changes.

Work Email Trends Infographic

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