I'm sure I'm only one of many people who feel as if they're drowning in a sea of email. There are countless tips on how to manage your inbox if you're on the receiving end and how to write better emails if you're on the sending end. Yet still, sometimes emails simply go unanswered. I'll admit I'm guilty of the nonresponse, especially when my emails start piling up after a few days away.
This isn't very hopeful if your day-to-day involves a lot of emailing -- especially if it's critical that you get a response. Thankfully, the folks at Boomerang, a plug-in for scheduling emails, did a little study to see if the language people use to close their emails has any effect on the response rate. "We looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads," data scientist Brendan Greenley wrote on the Boomerang blog. "And found that certain email closings deliver higher response rates."
But do all emails need a response? Not necessarily. That's why Boomerang ran a variation of the test that looked at threads whose initial email contained a question mark, meaning the initiator of the conversation was likely looking for a reply.
Which sign-off do you think is best for professional emails?
Let's see if you can guess which of these closings the data proved to be the most effective for replies.
- Take care
- Talk soon
- Looking forward to your thoughts
- Your initials
- [No closing at all]
The answer? Those that express gratitude. "Emails that closed with a variation of thank you got significantly more responses than emails ending with other popular closings," Greenley writes. Here are the exact numbers: Emails that ended in Thanks in advance had a 65.7 percent response rate. Of emails that ended in Thanks, 63 percent got responses. The third most effective closing was Thank you with a 57.9 percent response rate. Across the board, Boomerang found that sign-offs that included some sort of expression of gratitude had a 36 percent relative increase in average response rate.
The worst way to end your emails
It's also worth exploring a couple of the lowest-performing sign-offs on the list. It turns out that ending your email in Regards or Best could be dooming your response potential. In the 350,000 email threads they examined, Boomerang found Best was the worst performer of them all.
Of course, the subject line, tone, length, and content of your emails matters too. You can't write a long-winded, confusing, and unkind email, then simply end with "Thanks!" and expect a reply.