Trying to breakthrough the inbox clutter and send an effective email can be incredibly difficult.

Just ask Jon Youshaei and Shane Snow who sent 1,000 cold emails to top business executives and received a paltry 17 responses. Any businessperson, and especially an executive, is receiving tons of email every day and is likely unable to make it through all of them, let alone respond. 

There isn't a silver bullet on how to generate more email responses. But email app MailTime conducted a survey that helped identify the biggest email pitfalls to avoid. 

The company surveyed 1,000 working adults and found that the top five mistakes were:

  • Emails that were "insensitive" in tone
  • Emails not personally addressed to the recipient
  • Emails that have multiple replies
  • Emails that have multiple recipients
  • Emails that are too long

Particularly with length, it can turn off a recipient straight away.

Nineteen percent of the survey respondents said that they wouldn't read an email that was longer than one paragraph, 51 percent wouldn't read an email longer than two paragraphs, 76 percent wouldn't read an email longer than three paragraphs, and 84 percent wouldn't read an email longer than four paragraphs.

According to MailTime Co-Founder Charlie Sheng, the way we use email is changing -- people are browsing their inboxes on their phone as opposed to solely on a Web client, and they're checking their emails on-the-go while walking to lunch. This means that they don't have the time or patience to read lengthy messages.

"The way people use emails has changed, but some of us are still stuck with those email cliches or the old tradition of the email behavior," Sheng said.

You may be tempted to go on and on about a project that you are a passionate about, but think twice before getting too lengthy. Keeping it short increases the likelihood of your recipients paying attention to your message.

"People want to get more efficient with email nowadays," Sheng said. "For example, to have more actionable specific tasks in your email is the new polite in your email behavior. It's better to be more efficient with readers because it saves the time of both the sender and the reader."

Published on: Nov 5, 2014