How do you close your prospecting emails? The way you sign off could make a real difference in the number of responses you get.
Maria at PMA recently came across this study that’s based on a huge sample and demonstrates the power just a few words can have in lifting email responses.
When they crunched the numbers comparing the percent of responses generated by different closings, a trend became apparent. Commonly used business sign-offs like Best, Sincerely, or Best regards drew significantly fewer responses than emails that closed with appreciative words like Thanks or, even better, Thanks in advance.
What’s going on here?
Simple expressions of appreciation and gratitude seem to motivate more responses from recipients. It’s as though the expression of those feelings is contagious. And indeed it is.
Social scientists have come to recognize this phenomenon as the law of reciprocity.
Reciprocity is a social norm present in every culture on earth. Humans are pretty much hard-wired to respond in kind to a favor or caring gestures. (There’s also ‘negative’ reciprocity, but that’s another story entirely).
It occurs in many different situations and contexts. In restaurants, for example, diners give bigger tips when servers go out of their way to show friendly appreciation by giving extra after dinner mints to each person at the table.
If you’re entering a building through a series of doors and you hold the first one open for the people coming behind you, it’s likely they’ll do the same for you on the next door or for the people following behind them. There’s a certain contagion to acts of kindness.
Thanking someone in advance for responding to your email message plants a subtle seed of obligation. You’re thanking someone now for an act you’re assuming that person will perform in the future, and in an indirect way, that makes the recipient inclined to oblige.
It’s a very minor tweak that will tune you in to a more appreciative vibe and may likely boost responses as well. Why not give this a try the next time you send prospecting emails, and just see what happens?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about other ways you make your written communications more potent and productive. And we thank you in advance for sharing them in the comments below.