Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Key To Getting Someone To Reply To Your Email

Make it easy to reply to. I know that sounds really simple, but trust me on this one. Our natural tendencies are often to write emails that are difficult to respond to. Research suggests that 70% of email is spam. People are so inundated with email, that if it is not easy to reply to, the odds of it getting ignored or read later increase dramatically. Below are a few tips to help you make it so any email you write is easy to reply to.

1. Only ask one question- If there are five questions in your email, imagine how much time it will take for a reader to type out a response to all of those different questions. The reader is going to get overwhelmed. You'll get responses more often with one question.

2. Keep it short- I know you want to explain every detail of why you are emailing someone, but if they open an email and it's two pages, the odds are pretty good they won't read most of it, let alone reply.

3. Make it relevant- Explain as succinctly as possible why what you're talking about is important or relevant to that person.

4. Clear email subject- 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone. During my internship this summer, my boss called me out on this. I sent him an email with the subject of just "question". He explained that he can more effectively respond to emails when it has a clear subject line. For example, if the email subject makes it clear that the email is about a meeting we are having an in hour, it lets him know I need a fast response with out having to read the body of the email. 

If before you start typing away at that next email you ask yourself, "how do I make this email easy to respond to?", you're bound to get more responses to your emails.


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  2. I like the subject line tip. With simple questions, I generally just type the question directly in the subject line and no body.

    At my last company, if there was no email body, people would type EOM at the end of the subject line ((for "End Of Message") so people would know the subject line had all the info the recipient needed.

  3. Also related to subject lines... I've found that if the subject has the most important information from the email, then typically people respond to those emails very quickly.

    For example, if the subject line says "I'm trying to decide whether I should take your class," then the recipient knows what the purpose of the email is before they even open it, and they've already started to formulate the response in their mind. When they open the email, they will make adjustments to their planned response as they see the details of your (hopefully concise) message.

    On the other hand, if they have to decipher the purpose of your message, the response process will slow down considerably.

    Thanks for the tips, Derek!

    1. Thanks Todd, I agree, I think using EOM is very effective when you can fit it in the subject line and good etiquette.

  4. In line with your principle, "Keep it short," I really enjoy this article about the 5 sentence email: http://m.entrepreneur.com/article/226581. Enjoy!