How many times have you sent an internal email and wondered, did anybody even read it?

It’s a tough spot to be in.

You can track opens, clicks, location, and a whole suite of other interesting metrics, but none of them can tell you if people actually read your email

And there’s no creepy tech that you can implant in employees brains to make sure they’re actually getting the message... (yet).

There are, of course, other ways to measure if a message was received, like follow-up surveys, focus groups, and outcome measurement. But these take time that you don’t have. And tracking whether a specific message landed from email to email is nearly impossible.

Except if you have read time metrics.
Read time can be a useful yardstick for measuring whether employees are reading your email by tracking how long emails stay open in their inboxes.

How is internal email read time tracked?

Read time records by how long an email stays open in a recipients inbox. This is done through the same mechanism that tracks if an email was opened, by inserting an invisible image called a tracking pixel.

In Bananatag, read time, or time spent viewing email is displayed like this:

read-time-graph

The data is broken down by the amount of time the email remained open.  

Glanced: The percentage of people who opened your email and viewed it for < 3 seconds.

Skimmed: The percentage of people who opened your email and viewed it for 3-8 seconds

Read: The percentage of people who opened your email and viewed it for 8+ seconds.

Why should you be tracking read time on employee emails?

Knowing how many opens and clicks you have on an internal email is useful. But think for just a minute about your own email behavior.

Just because you open an email, and maybe click around, doesn’t mean you actually read it top to bottom.

And if you want people to spend some time reading what you’ve written or curated for them, or if leadership wants to know if people are actually reading their messages, you need something deeper than opens and clicks.

Read time can also help you gauge your readers’ interest and give you insight into whether you should be adjusting your email length and content.

If you send a longer email and fewer people spend time reading it, it’s worth experimenting with shorter copy and brevity.

If people are spending more time reading your emails, you may be able to stretch your length a bit and include more content.

What’s a good read time for an internal email? 

It depends on the email.

Your read time goals should align with your goals for the email.

Do you want employees to read a long message from leadership? Then you’ll want a majority of your readers to spend more than 9 seconds reading the email. If you just need employees to download a file or click a link, then getting most readers to skim the email would be an appropriate goal. 

Remember: It’s your benchmarks that matter. Comparing your email read times to other organizations won't be particularly useful because every internal email culture is different. 

And remember, this is a process, not just a one time thing.

When you combine read time with other metrics like opens and clicks, you will be able to pull a full story together about your employees' email experience. Only by looking at your email holistically, analyzing, and testing, will you be able to truly make your email communications the best they can be.