Recovering from a bad first impression is nearly impossible — and, if you’re connecting with prospects or vendors via email, you may be setting yourself up to fail. In fact, a cringe-worthy sign-off can wreck an otherwise perfectly crafted email.
A recent study from email software provider Boomerang concluded that ending your emails with a bang can be the determining factor in whether you receive your desired response.
The average user received 236 emails per day in 2018. That total is projected to hit 246 this year.1 With this overwhelming level of competition in the inbox, how do you expect to stand out? Every line must make an impact — including your sign-off.
Do you think “regards” sounds pretentious? Is “best” a safe bet but boring? Should you just ditch the sign-off altogether? So, what are those magic words that’ll increase your response rate?
A little bit of gratitude goes a long way.
The Boomerang analysis showed that emails ending with so-called thankful closings had the highest response rate. Specifically, emails ending with “thanks,” “thank you” or “thanks in advance” earned a response rate of 62 percent. That’s a whopping 36 percent relative lift compared to signing off another way!
While “best” may be the most ubiquitous sign-off on the list, it garnered the lowest response rate of the eight most popular closings.
Why do these sign-offs work?
An email’s closing provides context to your outreach. It helps you emphasize the personality of the email’s content and define your relationship to your recipient. Thankful closings, in particular, tap into the following cues:
- F-shaped reading patterns2 predict your closing will be read last, even if the recipient skims the rest. As such, you can use it as a final, gentle reminder.
- You set an expectation of cooperation linked to the Rule of Obligation3 and your recipient’s desire for self-verification.4
- Gratitude boosts positive emotions5 between you and your recipient.
- The recipient is likely to associate the requested task6 with you and your relationship.
The Boomerang team’s review upholds other research, including a 2010 study7 that found recipients were more than twice as likely to offer requested assistance upon receiving an email that included “thank you.”
There is, however, a camp that argues thankful closings are presumptuous, in that they disguise a command with premature gratitude. Are these business etiquette consultants just stuck in the past?
1. [The Radicati Group. “Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019.” http://bit.ly/2px9pDW]↩
2. [Nielsen Norman Group. “How People Read on the Web.” http://bit.ly/2pD7OMV]↩
3. [Westside Toastmasters. “The Rule of Obligation.” http://bit.ly/2pD361C]↩
4. [Escalas, Jennifer, et al. “Self-Identity and Consumer Behavior.” http://bit.ly/2pCPL9z]↩
5. [Harvard Mental Health Letter. “In Praise of Gratitude.” http://bit.ly/2pCTynB]↩
6. [Todd Rogers, Katherine L. Milkman. “Reminders Through Association.” http://bit.ly/2pCM6cc]↩
7. [Grant, Adam M.; Gino, Francesca. “Explaining why gratitude expressions motivate prosocial behavior.” http://bit.ly/2pCYNU8]↩