Study: 6 best practices for email success

Insights from PoliteMail’s analysis reveal optimal length, timetable and image-to-text ratio to ensure your employees open your messages, read the content and take action.

Overlooked email metrics

Almost everyone sends email; not everyone does it well.

In PoliteMail Software’s recently released 2018 Benchmark Data Report, which includes data analysis of 200 million internal email communications sent using the PoliteMail for Outlook platform, several key insights emerge:

1. Send concise messages.

Shorter email messages perform better in terms of readership and engagement.

Keeping email short yields better performance metrics across the board. In all key measures—including open rate, ignore rate, attention rate, read rate, engagement, click rate and effective rate—emails under two minutes in length, or roughly 400–500 words, yielded the best results.

Emails with a reading time of four minutes or less have 47 percent higher readership and 38 percent higher click rates than emails taking over four minutes to plod through. Email under two minutes have 24 percent higher readership and 51 percent higher click-through than email between two and four minutes.

The report also includes an analysis of the top 20 percent compared with the bottom 20 percent in terms of attention and engagement rates. Top performers send nearly 20 percent more messages of two minutes and under, and nearly 90 percent fewer running eight minutes or longer.

2. Send them from a person.

Email from people gets more attention than email from catchall mailboxes.

The data show that although far more corporate email is sent from shared mailbox addresses such as newsletter@ or communications@ addresses, open rates are 2 percent higher and ignore rates are 2 percent lower when email is sent from an individual’s name—typically the communications sender, an executive or a manager.

3. Send earlier in the day and week.

Employees will engage more, in terms of percentage read and links clicked, when the email is sent before the work day starts, during the morning commute, so it is at or near the top of their inbox when they get to work. All engagement results decrease as the day and week go on. Top performers send most of their email on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; bottom performers send the bulk of their emails on Thursday and Friday.

4. Use simple language.

Word choice is more important than you think.

Though communicators send “very easy to read” messages only 15 percent of the time, those messages have 6 percent higher readership than the easy, plain and difficult to read messages sent 73 percent of the time.  Messages scoring highest on the Flesch Reading Ease scale, written with very easy to understand language (fifth-grade level), have the highest percentage read.

5. Include more image area.

Messages that have more image area than text have 10 percent higher readership.

In terms of readership, plain-text email performs better than emails that include a few small images but are mostly text.

6. Establish a routine.

People are creatures of habit. Sending email on a regular schedule increases readership and engagement.

Communicators who send email on a routine schedule—from the same address to the same list at the same time, same day, same week, same month—achieve 4 percent higher open rates, 20 percent higher readership and 2 percent higher click rates than those sending on a random timetable.

For more insights, download the Email measurement insights and best practices guide.

Michael DesRochers is the founder and managing director of PoliteMail.

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