Another study, a late night, and 7 other things worth your time.

Um, it worked. Friday’s newsletter was about a study of 300,000 emails suggesting that beginning with the word “Hey” supposedly leads to more people replying.

Guess what? A lot of people replied: 132 that I counted, along with lots of folks clicking the little “heart” link at the bottom of the newsletter.

There are actually two more parts to that story. I’m going to share one of them today (let’s be honest, I was up late watching and writing about the Super Bowl, so the timing is good), and I’ll write about the third part later this week or soon after.

Today, we’ll go with the bookends. If “Hey” and to a lesser extent “Hi” prompt more replies in the opening of an email, what does the same study suggest prompts more replies at the close?

Here are the results. (The campaign examined only closing phrases or words that appeared more than 1,000 times among the 300,000 emails they looked at.)

The most-common phrases, along with their reply yield rates, were as follows:

  • "thanks in advance," with a 65.7 percent reply rate

  • "thanks," at 63.0 percent

  • "thank you," 57.9 percent

  • "cheers," 54.4 percent

  • "kind regards," 53.9 percent

  • "regards," 53.5 percent

  • "best regards," 52.9 percent

  • "best," 51.2 percent

Compare these to the baseline response rate for all emails, which was 47.5 percent. The difference is pretty remarkable. 

It makes me wonder how many thousands of replies I haven't gotten over the years, due to my penchant for ending emails with "best" (as if I'd wanted to write, "best regards," but just couldn't find the time.)

Of course, it's also tough to know exactly what makes "thanks in advance" such a magic phrase. A few potential explanations pop out.

First, of course, is that it's an expression of gratitude. Studies show sharing that sentiment has the effect of making people see you more positively in any context.

Second, there's the "in advance" part, suggesting that not only is the thanks for something you're going to do in the future, but also that it's a foregone conclusion that your next act will be to earn the gratitude of the email's sender.

Sneaky. I like it.

Much like the conclusions on the best opening line to put in an email, it's clear you could take this too far. Send every email with a "thanks in advance" closing, and you're likely to get a lot fewer replies.

But if you'd like to get replies to your emails a little more often--whether they're one-on-one messages to colleagues or marketing messages that you're sending to thousands of people--you might give this little trick a try.

I hope you'll let me know how it turns out. 

Best regards. Wait, I mean: Thanks in advance.

7 other things worth your time

  • Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl last night. Then, I stayed up to write about how there were four touchdowns in the game, and Brady actually recruited the three players who scored them, and what kind of leadership lesson that leads me to draw. (Short version: Recruiting and development are as important as talent, vision and culture.) (Me, on Inc.com)

  • What could go wrong? Amazon has started adding cameras to its delivery vans, which has “has drawn criticism from privacy advocates and workers concerned with being subjected to surveillance on the job.” (Reuters)

  • The U.S. will return to “normal” (post-Covid) by New Year’s Day 2022, but the world at large will need seven years, according to a study by Bloomberg that plots the rate at which countries are vaccinating their people. Laggard of note? Canada, for one, which would need until 2031 at the current rate. (Financial Post)

  • Nevada proposal: Let companies create their own local governments, complete with tax authority, courts and government services. (Review-Journal)

  • Months after contracting COVID-19, some will try anything to regain their sense of smell. (Yahoo News)

  • The 2020 election saw unprecedented, widespread voter turnout. As a result, 28 states are working fast to come up with ways to make voting more restrictive. (NPR)

  • I think I described this as my dream job when I was about six years old: a candy company says it’s hiring $30-an-hour candyologists, whose job will be to taste and rate their new creations. (CNN)

Thanks for reading. I’ve touched on this email study before at Inc.com.  If you’re not yet a subscriber, please sign up for the daily Understandably.com email newsletter—with thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings from happy readers.  

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