Making email work harder for you

 No matter which industry you work in, email is an essential communication tool. And there are ways to make it work even harder for you.

The time of day you send an email, the way you sign off and even the number of words you use can all make a difference when it comes to attracting attention and getting a response.

Standing out from the crowd

According to email marketing software company GetResponse, emails sent on Tuesdays have the most favourable open rates. This may be because Mondays are often reserved for meetings.

GetResponse has also found that 23 per cent of all email opens happen within the first hour after delivery. If your email isn’t opened within 24 hours, GetResponse says its chance of being opened at all drops below 1 per cent.

Paul Puckridge, 
training manager
 with The Success Institute, says emails are more likely to be opened if you send them early in the morning.

“Most of us pay more attention to emails when we arrive at work,” he says. “Therefore, if you're a business owner and you want your customer or prospect to see your email and then open it, it's probably best that you send it at around 8am. This way, it will be one of the first emails they will see.”

Puckridge also advises writing an engaging subject line to help your email stand out. “Use the customer's first name and this will increase his or her attention to reading your email,” he says. “Also, don't make the subject too long. Keep it short and sharp, just like the headline of a newspaper article.” 


The best ways to sign off

A recent study by email productivity app Boomerang showed that various email sign-offs yield different response rates.

The analysis looked at eight email sign-offs and found that the best way to end an email is with gratitude. Signing off with ‘Thanks in advance’, was found to be the most effective, followed by ‘Thanks’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Cheers’, ‘Kind regards’, ‘Regards’, ‘Best regards’ and ‘Best’.

Helen Crozier, technology coach with Keyboard Karma, suggests being creative with your email signature. “You can embed a YouTube thumbnail if you have a video about your business, “ she says. “There are also apps, such as WiseStamp, that allow you to create different signatures for different types of emails. There are signatures to use if you want the recipient to sign up to a newsletter or if you’ve got a particular promotion.”

The length of your emails can also impact their chance of getting a response. Data from Boomerang shows emails between 50 and 125 words have the best response rates at just above 50 per cent.

“Don’t write your life story in an email,” says Crozier. “Try to make it easy to read and, where relevant, include bullet-point lists, bold subheads and use short sentences."

Taking control of your inbox

Email has fundamentally changed the way we communicate but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of messages in your inbox. Puckridge suggests scheduling set times to respond, file or delete. “After you have come to work, set aside anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to handle only the most critical email,” he says. “Leave all low priority emails until later in the afternoon.”

Prioritising emails will help you to better control and organise your inbox

 “I'm a big fan of using filters and folders,” says Crozier. “Automatic filters will send messages to relevant folders rather than clogging up your inbox. You can also save emails into apps such as Evernote, so you can delete them from your inbox but still keep them handy.” 


Email etiquette tips

Email habits and styles leave an impression on customers. Crozier and Puckridge share some tips for email etiquette:

  • Acknowledge an email: “Even if you don’t have time to respond to a question, let them know that you’ve received their email and you will get back to them,” says Crozier. “No one likes to be ignored."
  • Avoid sending emails after business hours: “You don't want to give your customers the impression that you don't have a life – this is especially true if you send the messages at 11pm,” says Puckridge. “Place these messages in ‘drafts’ and send them in the morning.”
  • Wait before you respond: “If you do receive an email that you interpret as being rude or abrupt, it's best not to respond for least 30 minutes,” says Puckridge. “Telephone the person who sent the email a bit later in the day and ask them to clarify their comments, rather than replying with an angry email yourself.”
  • Know when to pick up the phone: “If you have to handle a sensitive matter or deliver bad news, it's best not to use email,” says Puckridge. “Nothing beats a personal conversation when it comes to developing an important relationship.”