We all remember what it feels like to receive a bad email that just doesn’t quite cut it. Or do we? Emails lacking style, substance and clarity are actually pretty forgettable – you probably read one this morning without it even registering on your radar; perhaps you ignored it entirely or maybe it’s still sitting at the bottom of your inbox, partially read, sinking to the bottom of your mental abyss. But if you’ve ever wondered how to get people to reply to your emails, you’re in luck, because we’ve explained the science below.

Maybe your own email-crafting technique even needs a bit of TLC – are you still waiting for a response from your tutor or boss from last week? Once you work out how to get people to reply to your emails faster you can pretty much take over the world (maybe). Here’s the science unpacked…

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Been waiting weeks for that important response? One sure-fast way to speed things up is to copy-in a senior member of staff. So if you’re waiting for Joe to get back to you, you should CC in Joe’s boss, because that will mean that Joe is more likely to feel the pressure and therefore reply. This sly tactic is based on a study of 500,000 emails by Yesware, who discovered that emails sent to one person whilst copying in another had a reply rate 12% higher than when sent separately to two people. Clever, huh?

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One writer at Muse tested an email experiment on her contacts list and found that when she included a link the recipient might be interested in, 85 percent of people responded to her email (and more than half got back to her within 24 hours). She reckons that sending her recipients something they might like to see (unrelated to the subject of the email) meant she came across as helpful and interested in them, instead of just demanding.  So a good excuse to scour the ‘net for those cute kitten videos then…

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NOBODY LIKES TO BE ADDRESSED IN ALL-CAPS (obvs it makes you look really angry or just really incapable of typing), but a Boomberang study found that messages which expressed either moderate positivity or negativity evoked 10 to 15 percent more responses than completely neutral emails.  Using words like; great, wonderful, delighted, pleased, bad, hate, furious, and terrible increased likelihood of response. So don’t be afraid to stick those phrases in, along with the odd smileys (but think hard about whether your boss will appreciate emojis or not), and never write an email that sets out to offend, because ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Stay in the digital sweet spot when it comes to length of emails; no-one wants to trawl through an essay after all. According to a study by Boomerang, response rates actually declined when messages dragged on – 50% for 125 word message to around 44% for 500-word message.


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That big Yesware study found that emails sent between 6 am and 7 am get the highest rates – about 45%. That’s because less emails are sent during these time slots which means less competition!


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Too many big words = dramatically less chance of getting responded to, reports FastCompany. Keep the language simple (Fastcompany recommends language suitable for 8-9 year olds works best) and people will take more notice of your requests.


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Organising your emails can be the bane of your office/school/college life. But Priya Patel, Programme Management Officer at the National Youth Agency offers some insight into how to keep things ordered. “Create sub folders that work for you so you can move important emails which will help clear your main inbox without deleting important info,” she said. “And flag urgent emails which you need to action by using the red flag, so you don’t forget what to prioritise.”

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