No matter how many eulogies it receives, email continues to be an essential part of the workday, even over three-day weekends like the upcoming Memorial Day. A recent Yesware study found that three-day weekends here in the U.S. (specifically, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day) are not as relaxing as we’d like them to be.
On one hand, it’s true. Less emails are sent on holiday Mondays than regular Mondays – around 40 percent – and it takes people slightly longer to open and reply to an email over three-day weekends – around 15 minutes longer. On Memorial Day, the lag approaches 50 minutes.
However, while fewer emails are sent over a holiday weekend, this doesn’t actually mean less work is done. Instead, work is being consolidated into the days leading up to and following a three-day weekend: data shows more emails are sent during that time period to compensate for time off. So, instead of getting a break, people are cramming the same amount of work into fewer hours. What’s more, even fewer emails are sent over three-day weekends, the open rates on holidays are actually pretty comparable to regular days, indicating that emails are still being looked at (and maybe that we’re all workaholics).
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The moral of the story is, there may be no way to totally avoid email before, during, or after a holiday week and perhaps you shouldn't crame more messages before and after a holiday weekend. Only your data will tell and these four data-backed tips.
Know when email volume is at its highest, and take advantage of the downtimes
Fortunately or unfortunately, there is not a best day of the workweek when it comes to having your emails opened and read. According to the data, however, if you want a quick response to your email, you’re best off sending an email in the early morning, between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., and in the late-afternoon, around 8pm.
Reply rates are highest around these times, with about 40 percent of emails receiving a response. Early morning and late night may not be everyone’s favorite time to work, but when you really need to reach someone, knowing these email lulls might just help you break through the inbox noise. In addition, open and reply rates are significantly higher over the weekend, perhaps at least in part due to a lack of competition. But beware, not everyone likes to receive emails on a Saturday.
Follow up, and then follow up again
Sometimes, it can feel like an imposition to follow up on an email multiple times. And sure, Yesware’s data did reveal that 90 percent of emails that receive a reply are replied to within one day of being opened. But it truly pays to follow up. If you send a follow-up note when someone hasn’t gotten back to your initial message, you have an additional 21 percent chance of getting a reply. Therefore the best advice when it comes to work email is simply try, try again!
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How you send an email matters just as much as what’s inside
Surprisingly, the data shows that the length of a subject line has no impact on open or reply rates. That being said, there are some subject line characteristics to consider.
In the study, certain words did have an impact on the open and reply rate. For example, emails with the words “steps,” “campaign” and “next” in the subject line had the highest open and reply rates, and emails with the words “calendar” and “online” had the lowest. In addition, when a message was sent to two people, reply rates were over 10 percent higher when one of the two recipients was “Cc’d.” By putting only one person in the main send field, the full onus of responsibility to respond is on that one person, as opposed to diffusing that responsibility out to two individuals. Therefore, you should always remember to choose your subject line carefully, as well as who you send it to.
Take advantage of the way people are reading your emails
The data shows that early mornings, late nights, and lunch hours are when people step away from their desktops and use their phones to check email. This may seem like logical insight, but it’s something that many forget to take advantage of. Think about it—nothing is more cumbersome than trying to read an extraordinarily long email on your phone.
So if you’re sending an email during times of high mobile open rates, keep messages short and sweet and avoid adding links, attachments or large graphics. Of course, the tips above don’t just apply to Memorial Day weekend. These tips can help you master email any day of the year -- so keep them in mind to work less on the weekday or weekend year-round!