Student Union Quiz: Which is the best way to end your email if you really want to get a response?
B) Thank you
D) Thanks in advance
You send an email and really want a reply. Can the words you choose increase your chances of getting a response?
Yes, they can.
A study on email found that you can increase your chances of getting a response you seek.
Boomerang, a company that produces apps that help manage email, conducted the study. It asked its users which factors influenced the rate of response.
It found that one factor is the length of an email. It should be short but not too short. Another factor is the tone: Is your language too informal or too formal? Are the words and grammar too simple or too advanced?
Even the length of your subject line may affect your chances of getting a response. The way you close an email can determine if you get a response. Or not.
Don’t forget the subject line
The subject line is what people will see first. Boomerang says subject lines with three to four words are the best.
The response rate goes down, they found, with each word you add. So, remember when writing your subject line -- less is more.
Boomerang found that a third-grade level works best and gets the most responses. Use simple words in simple sentences. Do not utilize convoluted terminologies: In more simple words, don't use complex words when simple ones will work just fine.
Keep it short. (But not too short!)
Boomerang found that the “sweet spot for email length is between 50 and 125 words.” Experts say the response rate for emails of this length is above 50 percent.
But, do not write all 125 words into one long paragraph. Break them up into a couple short paragraphs. It is much easier to read this way.
Ask a question
Remember, you are trying to get a response to your email. A good way is to ask the reader a question. It gives them something to do.
Boomerang found that the emails that asked no questions had the lowest response rate. Emails that ask between one to three questions are “50 percent more likely to get a response than emails asking no questions.”
Again, don’t ask too many questions. With each extra question you ask in your email, your response rate drops.
Show some feeling. (But not too much.)
The tone of your email matters. The tone is the feeling or attitude expressed by the written or spoken words.
When writing an email, be positive, (but not too positive) or negative (but not too negative.) Being neutral -- neither positive nor negative -- gets you nowhere.
Do you think the following email is appropriate to write to a professional acquaintance or colleague?
“Hi! I haven’t seen you in so long!! I’m wondering how you are. I would very much like to see you again soon!!! Would you care to have coffee with me tomorrow afternoon?”
This email is too positive, too emotional and too formal – a strange combination. The sentences use too many personal pronouns. This adds too much feeling. It may make reader feel uncomfortable. It sounds a bit creepy!
The writer of this email also uses too many exclamation points – something you really want to avoid. Using too many exclamation points is a sure sign that your email is too positive and possibly, annoying.
Try this instead:
“Hi there! Hope you’ve been well. Let’s catch up over coffee soon. Are you free anytime next week?”
“Hope you’ve been well” is very common to include in an email to both friends and co-workers. It’s a nice thought to share. But it also has a second purpose. It says that the writer and reader haven’t seen each other recently. An English speaker will read between the lines and understand this hidden meaning.
You could also write “How’ve you been? It’s been a long time!” By simply stating that a lot of time has passed, you put the importance on time and not your feelings.
So, it’s positive but not overly emotional. The tone is casual but professional. And it won’t seem creepy to the reader.
This email also asks a direct question without pressuring the reader. They can pick a time when they are free for coffee or say that they are just too busy.
However, let’s say you have to write an email describing a negative experience and you want a response. As we have learned, the study found that it’s actually better to be negative than neutral. But try not to be too negative. If you had a bad experience at a store, write about it simply.
“During a visit to your store, I had a very bad experience. One of your employees was extremely rude. He refused to replace a broken television. How can I get my money back for the broken television or get a replacement?”
You might not get a response if you wrote something like this:
“Your store is awful!! I tried to return a broken television and your employee was rude! He was a stupid fool! I will never go back to your store again!!!”
Not only does is the tone of this email too negative, the writer sounds crazy.
So again, find the balance – the sweet spot.
Use the right closing
Brendan Greenley studies data at Boomerang. He explains on the company’s website that another email study centered only on closings.
Experts studied over 350,000 email conversations of Boomerang users that involved people asking for help or advice. The study found “that certain closings deliver higher response rates.”
Here are the top eight email closings and their response rates:
Best (51.2 percent)
Best regards (52.9 percent)
Regards (53.5 percent)
Kind regards (53.9 percent)
Cheers (54.4 percent)
Thank you (57.9 percent)
Thanks (63 percent)
Thanks in advance (65.7 percent)
So, if you really want a response to an email, remember these writing tips. And remember that in most cases, less will get your more.