When you write an email, you usually want a response. That's why I recently wrote about the best way to start an email. (Hint: "Hi," "Hey," or "Hello.") And about eleven first sentences that pretty much guarantee the rest of your email won't get read.)

Now let's look at the opposite end of your emails: Your closing. How you close an email also dramatically affects the likelihood the recipient will respond. 

According to Brendan Greenley at Boomerang, these are the most popular email closings found in over 350,000 email threads:

  1. "Thanks"
  2. "Regards"
  3. "Cheers"
  4. "Best regards"
  5. "Thanks in advance"
  6. "Thank you"
  7. "Best"
  8. "Kind regards"

No surprises there (except maybe that "Sincerely," the word I was taught to use in elementary school when we learned to write letters, has clearly died a horrible death.)

But now let's rank those closings in terms of response rate:

  1. "Thanks in advance"    65.7 percent
  2. "Thanks"    63 percent
  3. "Thank you"    57.9 percent
  4. "Cheers"    54.4 percent
  5. "Kind regards"    53.9 percent
  6. "Regards"    53.5 percent
  7. "Best regards"    52.9 percent 
  8. "Best"    51.1 percent

While you might think that an 8 to 10 point swing in response rate between some form of "regards" and some form of "thanks" doesn't matter, think again. Changing your greeting from "regards" to "thanks" can result in one 10 percent more responding to your emails -- whether you're cold emailing, asking for a favor, or trying to connect -- which means it's definitely worth it.

And it's even more worth it if you haven't been using any kind of closing at all. The swing is even more significant when compared to a 47.5 percent baseline response rate for all emails in the study.

Granted, you may be a fan of "Regards" or "Best." But the problem is those closings sound too formal -- even if you don't know the person you're emailing.

Communication in all forms has become more casual. Professionalism is important... but so is establishing rapport. (Again, you may wish for less casual times, but like Marlo from The Wire would say, "You want it to be one way... but it's the other way.")

So what should you do?

First, always include a closing when you start an email chain. Any closing -- even "Best" -- performs better than the overall response rate for all emails. Once you're in response mode, it's fine to skip the closing.

If we've exchanged emails all morning, there's no need to say, "Thanks in advance" every time. In fact, that will soon sound like "Thanks in advance" is part of your sig, which means any sincerity you intended to convey is lost.

Then, end your emails with "Thanks in advance," "Thanks," or "Thank you." (My favorite is "Thanks." "Thanks in advance" sounds too presumptuous, even though it clearly works.)

And most importantly, think about what you're asking for.

The best way to get a response is to offer something, not ask.

Which, of course, is also the best way to network.

Published on: Mar 19, 2018
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