Procurement · 8 October 2015

Why aren’t you getting a response to that email?

The older the respondent,  the slower the response time  those over 51 had a response time of 47 minutes
The older the respondent, the slower the response time those over 51 had a response time of 47 minutes
Everyone knows the frustration of waiting for a response to an important email and sometimes not getting one at all. Now a study by the USC ViterbI School of Engineering has found there might actually be some determining factors affecting the speed of reply and the tone of the response.

The research attempted to measure time and tone response in a behavioural context, with a pool of volunteer test subjects who allowed their inboxes to be reviewed. The names of the account holders were unidentified, while the contents of their emails were unread.

From the data the researchers assembled however, they found that 90 per cent of email recipients will respond between 24 and 48 hours to messages if they’re intending to respond. If you haven’t had a response by then, you may well be out of luck.

The most likely reply time is two minutes, while half of respondents will get back to you in just under an hour bad news for those who sit tapping their fingers frustratedly while waiting for a response for half of the afternoon.

Respondents tended to keep it short and sweet, with more than half the replies less than 43 words, and 30 per cent longer than 100 words.

For those hoping to receive a quick response, the researchers did find a few factors to bear in mind, that could help cut down on time wasted on emails.

(1) Do your emails first thing and stick to weekdays

People are apparently more active on email during the day than later on and into the night. As the weight of the inbox increases with a deluge of mail throughout the day, users’ answers decrease. If you’re after an important response, or a lengthier, more thought-through reply, you stand a better chance in the morning. Weekends should also be avoided if possible many try to keep them short on Saturday and Sunday, with curter replies than on weekdays.

(2) Email respondents are quicker when using a mobile



Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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