How to close an email

Science of Productivity: How Should You Close An Email?

August 26, 2020

Most of us thoughtlessly sign an email with whatever signature we’ve gotten used to adding before our names. Some even skip signing at all and just allow their auto-populated signature to suffice. When it comes to saving time, you could assume this is a good idea. After all, how much could one to two words at the very end of an email matter?

It turns out, based on a review of 350,000 email threads by email plug-in Boomerang, that it matters a lot. In this fifth Science of Productivity segment, CEO Matt Plummer shares the simple, yet powerful change you can make to how you sign emails that will significantly increase how often people respond.

The Science of Productivity segment brings you scientific insights you can trust into how to accomplish your goals faster. It is part of the Anything But Idle productivity news podcast. This segment is part of the second episode of Anything But Idle: Samsung and Microsoft Brings Android Apps to Windows 10 from Note 20 Devices posted on July 27, 2020.

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https://youtu.be/kMEV39MhG7g

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

The science of productivity segment brings you scientific insights you can trust into how accomplish your goals faster. In this week’s segment, I want to share research that reveals how you should finish an email if you want people to respond.

The way you close an email may seem trivial. After all, do people even read and pay attention to whether you end an email with “Regards” or “Best” or some other trite remark?

Research from email application, Boomerang, into 350,000 email threads shows that they do, in fact, read email closings. And not only that, but the closing significantly affects how likely they are to respond.

Emails in Boomerang’s research had an average response rate of 47.5% or just under half. However, the most effective closing that appeared at least 1,000 times had an average response rate of 65.7%. This means that signing your name with the most effective closing increases the likelihood you’ll get a response by almost 40%.

What are the most popular closings in this research and which is most effective? The most popular closings in order are:

  1. Thanks
  2. Regards
  3. Cheers
  4. Best regards
  5. Thanks in advance
  6. Thank you
  7. Best
  8. Kind regards

The closing that got the most responses was “Thanks in advance.” But “thanks in advance” wasn’t the only winner. It turns out that closings with a thankful response (e.g., thanks in advance, thank you, thanks) had an average response rate of 62%.

If you want more people to respond to your email, thank them. Research from Wharton’s Adam Grant and UNC’s Francesca Gino from 2010 supports this conclusion, finding that people were twice as likely to respond to emails that contained an expression of gratitude. Digging deeper, Grant and Gino found that thankful closings had this effect because expressions of gratitude make the recipient feel valued, which leads them to act in more prosocial ways.

If you want to get the full list of closing rankings from Boomerang, check out the links in the description of this episode. Thanks in advance!

Sources:

Forget “Best” or “Sincerely,” This Email Closing Gets the Most Replies.” Brendan G., Boomerang (Jan 2017).

A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior.” Grant, Adam and Gino, Francesca. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2010).