One of our data scientists, Victor Amin, has been diving into the email data that we collected during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A couple weeks ago, we took a look at how email engagement was affected by including discount percentages in subject lines.

Today, we’re looking at how long it takes for recipients to click on emails and how unsubscribes relate to engagement. While the following insights were developed by using really specific dates around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we were able to look at over 3 billion marketing emails to develop the insights below.

Click Delays

Click delay could also be referred to as “time-to-click,” and the concept refers to how long it takes for recipients to eventually click on a newsletter or other marketing email. When we looked at the click delay for the weeks around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we noticed a couple interesting things:

The chart above shows the median (50th percentile) click delay for links in newsletters over the course of about a month. As you can see, click delay approximately doubles on weekends. We think there are a couple potential reasons for this, and they could work in conjunction or independently to delay clicks:

  1. People check emails less frequently on weekends.
  2. During the weekend, people look through their inbox and click on things they may have missed during the week.

Another interesting caveat that you can see in this chart is that click delays don’t appear to be affected by Black Friday or Cyber Monday. People aren’t constantly looking at their inboxes for deals, they’re checking their email about as often as normal.

Click Delays on Mobile Devices

When we looked at how click delay and mobile devices were related, we saw that clicks from mobile devices tend to have a shorter click delay than desktop clicks:

Mobile devices have an 18% shorter click delay than desktops (3.7 hours as opposed to 4.5 hours). If you think about this, it makes sense, people may check phone email notifications as they arrive, whereas checking email on your desktop probably happens in batches.

Mobile is Faster (Except for Tablets)

After diving further into click delays on devices, we discovered that while mobile is generally faster than desktop for clicks, this does not hold true for tablets. We looked at the top 5 email platforms for engagement to see how they compared:

One thing to note with this chart is that the Android platform in our analytics combines phones and tablets running Android. This makes it harder to tell what’s going on, though we could make a guess that they have a shorter click delay because there are many more Android phones than Android tablets, potentially skewing the average.

We were able to compare iPhones, iPads, and MacOS and found that median click delays are 30% shorter for iPhones vs. MacOS and 17% longer for iPads vs. MacOS. We can conclude that “mobile” delays tend to be shorter if they’re from phones, but longer if they’re from tablets.

One of the things that we didn’t discover through this analysis is any correlation between engagement and click delay. And that’s a great thing! In the future, if you’re a marketer keep this in mind:

Don’t Worry About Click Delay: While everyone wants their email opened and clicked on, a delayed click isn’t a bad thing. Click delays may happen, but there’s no correlation between increased delays and engagement rates. However, you may not want to send a time-sensitive offer on the weekend.

Unsubscribes and Engagement

For another look at Black Friday and Cyber Monday metrics, we looked at unsubscribes and engagements, where we defined “engagements” as opens or a clicks. While no one wants their email to be unsubscribed from, there are some interesting takeaways that may help you.

When we looked at recipient behavior over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we noticed that unsubscribe rates were decreasing, especially for Cyber Monday email. We determined that unsubscribes are correlated with engagements, and the more engagements you get, the more unsubscribes you get as well. You can take a look at how engagement and unsubscribes relate in our post Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Using Data to Gain Email Insights.

Specifically, every extra percent of engagement a campaign receives is associated with a corresponding increase in unsubscribe rate by 0.004%. It may not be a lot, but then again, typical newsletter unsubscribe rates are about 0.007%.

What does unsubscribe and engagement data mean to you? Some ideas you might take into account before your next send:

  • Use engagement segmentation: Email infrequent engagers less frequently. These recipients are likely fatigued, and you don’t want to send them the email that they engage with one last time, just to find the unsubscribe link.
  • Give recipients a frequency choice: Provide your recipients with an option to receive less email within your preference center. When a user clicks an unsubscribe link, they should get an option to simply get less mail, instead of none.
  • Don’t hide the unsubscribe: Make sure your unsubscribe link isn’t completely buried or hidden. Many times, if users can’t find the unsubscribe link, they’ll hit the spam button instead.

If you’re getting ready to send your next email marketing campaign, make sure you’re doing it the right way. Read the A-Z of Email Marketing Guide today to learn more about the tips and tricks we encourage all our customers to use when sending email.



Warren Duff
Warren is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at SendGrid, specializing in email and content best practices, he develops many of the new guides you see SendGrid release as well as other pieces of content, including blogs, videos, case studies, and emails.