147 a day. That’s the average number of emails a user can expect to see, with an average time expenditure of two and a half hours sacrificed to dealing with this onslaught of communications. But how many of them matter? Only about half, considering that 71 are deleted almost immediately. That’s a disturbing figure to those who depend heavily on email to communicate. Luckily, there’s additional data with this research that suggests key words to use and avoid in email subject lines to maximize the chances that the email you’re sending gets read and garners a response. The best words:
Apply, Opportunity, Demo, Connect, Payments, Conference and Cancellation.
Granted, there’s probably more than reader psychology in play here (e.g. the term “payments” tends to earn a response if only to keep the electricity on, or to receive income from tenants). Still, it can’t hurt to use them when appropriate. These, when used in the subject line, get the fewest responses:
Confirm, Join, Assistance, Speaker, Press, Social and Invite.
So that’s what to say and not say. But does when we say it matter? Definitely! Boomerang’s data suggests a mismatch between when we want to read email and when we think other people do. Scheduled email is sent increasing through the morning hours to a pronounced peak at 9 a.m. Scheduled reading, however, is dramatically concentrated at 5 and 6 a.m., with minor blips at noon and midnight. According to this chart, if you want it to be read upon arrival then your best bet is to send it late in the predawn hours.
What about all the other email in that 147? Boomerang says that on average, it’s only 12 that we spend much time responding to, but those 12 consume almost an hour and a half of our day. The rest that isn’t jettisoned we archive or put on hold before taking action later, or not. Writing responses takes time of course, but we also spend significant amounts of time deciding whether or how to respond. To save time, put on your decisive face and say no now rather than deferring the decision until later, and respond right away to those you’re going to respond to. Then it’s off your mental list as well as out of your inbox.
Is all this really superior to smoke signals and carrier pigeons? What do you think? By all means, share your email-efficiency tips with us in the comments.