25 years ago we didn’t even have internet. And even for the years that followed it was somewhat of a dial-up disaster that certainly didn’t encourage email on mass. As a teenager growing up in the West Country, I knew the numbers of the local phone boxes by memory (yup, no mobile phones either!). So when I needed to find my friends, it was a case of ringing round the pay phones in nearby villages to track them down. Sometimes they’d answer (that’s why kids were always hanging around by phone boxes back in the day!) or a helpful villager would pick up saying that they’d spotted them heading in the direction of so and so’s farm about 10 minutes ago. The way we communicated back then was so different to how things are today.
These days I often feel like I’m drowning in a sea of emails. OCD-like organisation isn’t one of my strengths. Don’t get me wrong, I’m organised but it’s more like creative chaos meets action over at my place. I’ve tried the ‘Tips to manage your email’ and ‘clear your inbox and maximise productivity’ recommendations. They work for a big clear out but volume slowly creeps back in – it’s like fad-dieting for inboxes!
The ‘social and promotions’ filters have helped the health of my inbox tremendously. But the noticeable cause of congestion is waiting for responses. I’m certainly guilty of non-responses too; often due to a lack of headspace. Not all emails need a response but the conversational ones do and I certainly don’t want to file things away until it’s wrapped up, delivered or actioned – the hectic nature of my life means that filing things away is a mental as well as physical action.
I have an inquisitive mind and troubleshooting nature. So the question I wanted answering was ‘Is there a way to get quicker responses to emails?’ As it turns out, I’m not the first to have asked this question; Boomerang did a little study to see if the language people use to close their emails has any effect on the response rate. They looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads and interestingly, found that certain email closings deliver higher response rates.
So which sign off gets the best response for your professional emails? Sincerely, Best, Warm regards, Cheers, Talk soon, Ciao, Kind Regards, Best wishes, Take care, Looking forward to your thoughts, your initials or no closing at all…
The answer? None of the above! The best response rate comes from sign offs that express gratitude. “Emails that closed with a variation of thank you got significantly more responses than emails ending with other popular closings” Boomerang claims.
Emails that ended in Thanks in advance had a 65.7% response rate. Of emails that ended in Thanks, 63% got responses. The third most effective closing was Thank you with a 57.9% response rate. Across the board, Boomerang found that sign-offs that included some sort of expression of gratitude had a 36% relative increase in average response rate.
Also noteworthy was that generic email sign-offs like “regards” had lower response rates. And it turned out that “best” was in fact worst among popular email closings. Ending an email with “best” had the lowest average response rate when compared to other email sign-offs.
I guess I should also note that common sense has a part to play here too! The subject line, tone, length, and content of your emails matters. You can’t write a lengthy, confusing, and unkind email, then simply end with “Thanks!” and expect a reply. If you do have any inbox tips, tricks or data worth sharing, I’d love to know in the comments below. Thanks in advance!