How do you close your marketing emails? This seemingly trivial question turns out to have a significant effect on the response your messages will get from readers. A new study from Boomerang explores the relationship between email ending words and response rates, and the results show that how you sign off makes a surprisingly strong impact on how the email is treated.
Boomerang makes productivity and communications software, so naturally they’re interested in all the factors that control email behavior. The company examined more than 350,000 email communications to compare response rates with different closing styles. The words and phrases that appeared most commonly in the emails studied were:
- Best regards
- Thanks in advance
- Thank you
- Kind regards
When researchers paired the closings with response rates, a clear pattern emerged: saying ‘thank you’ in some form makes it far more likely that you’ll receive a response to your email. Emails that end with “Thanks in advance” earned the highest response rate, with 65.7 getting a reply. A simple “Thanks” came in a close second, with 63.0% response rate, followed by “Thank you” at 57.9%. These three gratitude-focused closures stood out as particularly effective, with an average response rate of 62% overall, while other endings ranged between 51.2% and 54.4%.
Emails that end with “best” or “best regards” didn’t fare as well. These were the least likely of the most popular closing options to get a response, at 51.2% and 52.9%, respectively. “Cheers” (54.4%), “Kind regards” (53.9%) and simply “Regards” (53.5%) performed somewhat better, but not nearly as well as any of the sign-offs conveying thanks.
It’s important to note that the baseline response rate, averaged across the entire body of emails in the study, was 47.5%. All eight of the top closing messages increased the likelihood of getting a response, but some were much more effective than others. You won’t be doing any harm if you choose to stick with a favorite sign-off like “Regards” or “Best,” you just won’t be leveraging the power of gratitude to increase response rates as much as possible. Measured in terms of the increase to average response rates, “Thanks in advance” gave a 38.3% increase while “Best” provided only a 7.7% increase.
These results prove only one rather narrow fact, but it’s a fair guess that the point they illustrate holds true in a much broader context: you’ll get the best results by being polite and showing some appreciation. Your mother was right after all!