You undoubtedly spend time drafting the body of your email, but how much thought do you put into your sign-off? “Sincerely,” “Thanks,” or “Best”–the words you use to close an email can impact your chances of receiving a response, according to a study by email productivity software provider Boomerang.
“It’s the one or two forgotten words at the bottom of the page that seem to have an impact on whether or not we get a response,” says Boomerang data scientist Brendan Greenley.
Analyzing more than 350,000 email threads, Greenley and his team found that emails that included a closing saw a higher rate of response when compared to the average response rate of all emails, which was 47.5%.
The most popular eight email sign-offs appeared over a thousand times each:
- Thanks in advance
- Thank you
- Kind regards
- Best regards
But not all closings are created equal.
An expression of gratitude resulted in a 36% increase in average response rate. “Thanks in advance” scored highest, with a 65.7% response rate. “Thanks” got 63%, and “thank you” received 57.9%.
The higher response rate with “thanks in advance” makes sense, says Greenley. “The email’s recipient is being thanked specifically for a response that has yet to be written, and that could prompt the person to follow through,” he says. “There’s a bit of posturing involved with this closing, and you do risk coming across as a little aggressive, but it turns out it works pretty well.”
Boomerang’s findings agree with a 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology called “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way.” Researchers gave college student participants one of two emails asking for help with a cover letter. Half of the participants received an email with a line that included, “Thank you so much!” while the other half got the same email but without an expression of gratitude. Recipients were more than twice as likely to offer assistance when they received the email that included “thank you.”
“Our parents always told us to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’” says Greenley. “The same holds for email. It goes back to an underlying basic tenet of graciousness. It’s saying, ‘I know this is taking up your time and I’m glad you’re reading it.’ It doesn’t always fit, but when it makes sense, it’s a good idea to use it.”
Generic sign‐offs, such as “kind regards,” “regards,” and “best regards,” had the lowest response rates. And a simple “best” received the worst response rate among popular email closings, at 51.2%. While some perform better, all eight have higher response rates than average as a whole.
“It’s not that one closing will ruin your chance of getting a response,” says Greenley. “It’s just that some did better than others.”
Boomerang didn’t study creative email endings, such as “Keep on keepin’ on” or “Stay awesome,” because the sample size was too small, but Greenley says the important thing is to be yourself: “Context matters,” he says. “If you’re trying to communicate a certain mood or tone, go ahead. The best thing is to be genuine to yourself as a writer.”