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Use These Email Greetings If You Want to Get a Reply

In an age when when every day welcomes yet another deluge of emails, and we're all caught in the seemingly eternal struggle to reach inbox zero, any move that can improve your chances of getting a reply from someone is a wise one. But what if getting someone to write back were as simple as picking the proper greeting?

It turns out, the mere word you use to kick off a digital missive can make a big difference in terms of the likelihood of getting a response, at least according to a revealing new analysis of more than 300,000 email messages. 

Using a few hundred thousand email threads from online communities that keep a public archive of their messages, a team at Boomerang analyzed the first lines of each to identify five opening or greeting words or phrases that appeared more than 1,000 times. As you might imagine, the most prevalent and popular opening salutations are pretty common and familiar: hey, hello, hi, greetings, and dear. However, somewhat surprisingly, a few of them were associated with higher response rates than the others. Based on the analysis, here's what the response rate was for each:

  • "Hey" -- 64% response rate
  • "Hello" -- 63.6% response rate
  • "Hi" -- 62.7% response rate
  • "Greetings" -- 57.2% response rate
  • "Dear" -- 56.5% response rate

The overall response rate for all of the messages was 47.5%, which suggests that including an opening salutation is a good move if you want a response (no one said data can't point out the obvious). Another takeaway the data points to is the fact that a more formal greeting is less likely to get a reply. As Boomerang data scientist Brendan Greenley notes, that tracks with the research that formality in online communication can often be found when there's less shared context and among people who don't like each other, which hints at yet another reason why someone may not get respond.

And while an opening line is clearly important, it's also worth mentioning the sort of closing remark you include may have a huge impact on whether or not you get a reply. In fact, ending with an expression of gratitude correlates to a a 36% relative increase in the average response rate. In other words, signing off with a simple "Thanks" is a go-to move if you really want to hear back from someone.

h/t Quartz

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.