The COVID-19 Script: How To Act On The Changing Email Response In April

People are now so bored they are spending more time in their inboxes, and actually opening the email they find there -- if it’s short and sweet, and sent at certain times. Emojis don’t hurt, either.  

Those are some of the findings offered by Jay Schwedelson, CEO of Worldata in his Thursday webinar: 45 Days Later: Email Marketing Tips You Need To Know Now. 

In February, B2C customers spent 125 minutes per day on email. In March, that went up to 164 minutes and in April, to 177 minutes.

On the B2B side, the average time spent in February was 188 minutes. In April, that was up to 241 minutes. 

Not that the emails are that much more interesting. “We have time at our hands,” Schwedelson says. ”We’re staring at our phones all day long.”

Thus, timing has shifted. In B2B, the wisdom was, “Don’t push on Monday,” Schwedelson says, based on a study of over 200 millions emails sent from April 1-30.. “But Monday’s the best day right now.”



Moving next week’s email from Wednesday to Monday, for example, will generate a 5% to 10% lift in opens. This is because people, after relaxing on Sunday, become more active on Monday. 

Then there’s the time of day to consider. B2B emails were formerly opened at the beginning of the day. Now they are opened later, peaking at around 11 a.m. Why? Because people are working at home.

“We don’t have to wake up at a normal time,” Schwedelson says. “We can start our days a little later.”  He points to a Marketo email hitting after 4 p.m., and a Salesforce email arriving at 6:09 p.m. 

Are these mistakes? These guys don’t make mistakes, he says. And it’s similar on the B2C side.

But don’t think people are reading everything. Great urgency, as conveyed in words like urgent, hurry, critical, serious, alert and rush, were dominant in January. Not so today. 

Rather smart brands are using more subtle urgency with terms like:

  • Don’t wait
  • Don’t miss out 
  • Times running out 
  • Limited supply 
  • Now’s the time

Subtle urgency increases the open rate 28% for B2B and 32% for B2C. 

The surging words in B2C, and the open rate lifts that they drive, are:

  • Free — 42%
  • Mom — 31%
  • % Off — 31%
  • You/Your — 27%
  • Delivery — 24%
  • WFH — 24%
  • Just For — 22% 

In B2B, the big words are:

  • Free — 37%
  • WFH — 28%
  • Jobs/Career — 27%
  • You/Your — 22% 

Another variable is email length. In January, emails with less than 150 words pulled under a 2.5% CTR: emails with 100 to 300 words did much better. In April, messages with under 300 words pulled over 2.5%, and was at the top of the list.

The reason? “People don’t really care about what you’re saying—they just want to know the deal,” Schwedelson says.

Meanwhile, unsubscribe rates have gone up — by 8% in B2B and by 11% in B2C. But it’s not because brands are sending terrible emails — it’s that people are cleaning out everything, from closets to inboxes.

Here’s one more creative insight: Emoji usage has risen 200% in the last 45 days. You can see emojis in the subject lines of 92% of all email platforms.

B2C emails that feature an emoji as the first character in the subject line increase the open rate by 21R, and in B2B it is up to 24%. Subtle urgency can be communicated with a clock.


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