Crafting an email is an art. The wording and tone not only have to be perfect, but your ideas must also be well thought-out and your intentions for sending the message clear.
But perhaps one of the most important things to think about when writing the perfect email is how you will end it because that good-bye could make or break your email, a new study has found.
“First impressions are everything, and more and more our first impressions aren’t in-person but over electronic mediums like email,” says Brendan Greenley, data scientist at Boomerang. “We all want to come across as genuine, polite and considerate, and penning an email that accidentally comes across as rude, or that is riddled with typos can start things off on the wrong foot.”
According to the email productivity company, there are three ways to end an email that will almost guarantee a response, and two ways that possibly hurt your chances at getting a reply.
The company scanned through over 350,000 email threads and found that people will often sign off with eight closings:
- Best regards
- Thanks in advance
- Thank you
- Kind regards
However, only one of the popular closings proved to be the most successful: “thanks.”
In third place were emails ending in “thank you,” which had about a 58 per cent return rate; second was “thanks” with a 63 per cent response rate and in first place was “thanks in advance,” which yielded almost a 66 per cent chance of a response.
“I don’t think we expected to find a super strong correlation between a certain type of closing and response rate,” says Greenley. “[What surprised us] wasn’t that ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’ or ‘thanks in advance’ correlated with the highest response rates among popular responses, it was that all three together took the number one, two and three spots and seemed to reflect a clear pattern where thankful closings got more responses.”
Emails that close with thanks are likely to convey a message of gratitude for someone’s forthcoming response or assistance, Greeley speculates.
“You can’t just throw ‘thanks’ to the end of any email you write and expect to get more responses, but for emails where closing with gratitude makes sense, I think it is a great last opportunity to show appreciation to your recipient as they finish your email,” he says. “There’s a reason our parents taught us to say please and thanks growing up. It’s polite and I think it applies to email as well.”
However, closing with “best regards” and “best” had the lowest return rate with only 53 per cent and 51 per cent chance of getting a reply, respectively.
“Cheers,” “regards” and “kind regards” sit somewhere in the middle with about a 54 per cent response rate.
So what makes a good and effective email?
For Greeley, be aware of what you’re writing and who you’re writing it to.
“Have situational awareness,” he says. “Not every email should be written the same way. There are certain times where closing an email with gratitude might not make sense, so don’t force it.”
According to Workopolis, there are several other things to keep in mind when writing your electronic message.
First, do your best to find out the name of the person you’re sending the email to and address them in the message. This might not always be possible, however, if it’s a general department email account.
Watch for spelling errors and typos. Make sure to go over your message again before you send it. To be extra cautious, have a fresh pair of eyes look at it as well.
Don’t start your emails too casually if you’re sending a professional email. Avoid “hey” as an opening line. It’s better to start with “Dear Mr. Smith” or just “Mr. Smith.”
Be mindful of your tone in the email. Conveying tone can be difficult to do so keep jokes to a minimum. Also, avoid using exclamation marks and emoticons.
And lastly, choose your sign off wisely.
“First and foremost, trust your instincts as a writer,” Greeley adds. “General trends and patterns might not always apply to a very specific email you are writing, though they are always good to keep in mind when they are relevant.”