I’ve heard many industry peers jokingly say that this past year has made them forget how to be “human.” Thanks to the pandemic, many of us have sort of forgotten how to communicate with one another, full stop.
If you’re like me, spending a year apart has made you reconsider how you effectively communicate with your colleagues, peers, and the people you want to influence most: customers. How do you break through the digital noise and communicate your messages most effectively and genuinely during these weird times?
SalesLoft constantly analyzes the performance of hundreds of millions of emails sent from our sales engagement platform to identify new insights on modern email etiquette to help improve the email game.
Whether you’re sending a memo, making a sale, or just trying to reconnect with an old friend, here are my top 10 email hacks for a post-pandemic world, based on SalesLoft’s data science:
Keep them short
The shorter the email, the better. In fact, emails with fewer than 50 words get 2x more replies than those with 100 words.
Cap your subject line at five words
People don’t like long emails, so why would they like long subject lines? Don’t use the recipient’s name in the subject line or suffer a 12% reduction in reply rate — it looks like marketing spam and ends up in the trash folder.
Monday mornings are best
Sending your emails Monday mornings is best since people have the time, energy, and motivation to attack their inboxes. Weekends, however, are a no-go. Reply rates drop by a whopping 64.2% when you email on Saturdays in particular.
Keep your emails COVID-neutral, unless necessary
The pandemic certainly isn’t over, but we’re now well over a year into COVID-19-themed content dominating our inboxes. People are eager to read COVID-neutral content—so much so that there’s a 47% decrease in email response rates if you mention COVID-19 in your subject line. And it gets even worse if COVID is mentioned in the body of your email.
Don’t fear the exclamation point!!!!
Enthusiasm is contagious! Emails with exclamation points at the end of the first sentence actually garner more responses than those without. But don’t overdo it; one is enough. Emphatic punctuation sprinkled throughout your emails can express positivity and excitement, but you may come across as unprofessional and overzealous if you rely on them too heavily.
Ask (directly) and you shall receive
Keep the body of your email upfront and honest—don’t be afraid to be direct. If you’re looking to request an introductory meeting, use those words specifically: “request,” “meeting,” and “introduction.” Your recipient will appreciate you not beating around the bush.
Include a video or a photo
Videos are a proven attention-grabber. In fact, emails containing a video increase reply rates by 25%. Fun fact: Including one photo can increase your reply rates by about 9%, but including two or more decreases your reply rates by 16.3%. So, while a single relevant photo can be eye-catching, don’t email your recipients an entire album if you want them to respond.
The best way to sign off is “best”
Signing your emails with “best” can increase your reply rates by nearly 10%. Meanwhile, formal closures like “sincerely” and “regards” are old news and just don’t cut it anymore. While “cheers” has also proven to be effective, remember: “Best” is best!
Make them personal
Data shows that going from no email personalization to just 25% skyrockets reply rates to upwards of 300%. It’s pretty simple: If your email is four sentences long, one sentence should be personalized. Bonus points if you make sure the first and last sentence of every email you send is unique to the recipient.
The bottom line here? Personalization works. And make sure you personalize the opening sentence. That’s what people will see in their email preview and what will get them to click to open.
Keep your emails conversational
Don’t be overly formal—or use too much lingo—in your emails. If you’re in the business of selling, I always say: people don’t mind being marketed to, so long as they’re not aware of it. So how do you do that?
Give your recipients the information they need in a way you’d tell a friend. Try to find a 50% balance between “I” and “you” statements, and keep your email conversations casual. If you wouldn’t talk that way, don’t write that way!
No matter your profession, keep these ten tips in mind when crafting your emails. Your recipients will appreciate your brevity and authenticity, and you’ll see an uptick in your email reply rates as a result. We’re all on a communications learning curve, so don’t be afraid to switch things up in order to stand out in your recipients’ cluttered inboxes.
Sydney Sloan is the chief marketing officer at SalesLoft.