faster response to emails

13 Fail-Proof Tactics To Get A Faster Response To Your Emails

Do you hate waiting?

Me too.

Time is the most precious asset we have (and the most limited) and it should not be wasted on waiting. That is why we use email as a form of communication. It’s fast, easy and cheap. It should be at least. But we all know that is no longer the case. Easy and cheap, yes. Fast, not so much.

The average person receives 147 emails per day. Combine that with all the other things that are competing for their attention at the same moment and you start to see why email responsiveness has gone down dramatically.

What makes it even worse is that your own responsiveness is tied up with the one of the people you communicate with. Even if you are the most responsive person who replies to emails promptly, some things are out of your control. If you are waiting on a reply from a client so you can update your team (or vice versa), the wait is making you look unresponsive.

And while you cannot control how many emails your correspondents receive, there are proven tactics you can use with your own outbound emails to make sure you get the fastest replies possible. Better outbound emails, faster response time, less waiting.

1. Write effective subject lines

A good email starts with a good subject line.

People judge the importance of an email from the subject lines. You make a poor job there, your email might not even get opened for days.

Think of subject lines as a headline of a news article. It needs to inform the reader of what the article is all about, but also to grab attention and stand out from the 10s of other articles on the same page.

Here are the best practices for writing a good email subject lines:

  • Make it specific. “Question” can be in regards to the multimillion dollar contract, or to the quality of the coffee you had for breakfast. “Question re John Smith’s contract” makes it clear what the email is going to be about.
  • Give or request information. These should be the only two goals of a good subject line. Inform of something (out of the office till Friday at 3 PM), or request something (please call me by 4 PM / need signature on Smith’s contract).
  • Too short or too long. It goes without saying that you should never leave an email with no subject line as you are making the topic of your email completely unknown. On the other spectrum, avoid using hyper long subject lines as well as they might get cut off depending on the email client your receiver is using.

2. Use the correct address

This might seem obvious to some, but it is critical and widely overlooked.

The chance of you getting a faster response quickly evaporates if  you send the email to an incorrect email address.

To avoid it, never manually type the outgoing email address. Either select it from your existing contacts (most email clients even auto-fill the information as you start typing), or copy and paste it from where you have it saved. The chance of missing a character or mistyping the address when you do it manually are great. Especially if you are on your cell phone or tablet.

When you first get the email address of someone, send them a quick email just to verify it is correct (especially if you got it offline, from a business card for example). Once you get a reply, store it in your contacts for good and you’ll never have to worry about your emails not going to the right place.

3. Keep your emails short and to the point

Everyone is busy and has limited time so make sure your emails are short and to the point. Ideally, keep them to 3 sentences or less. If you need more space, consider picking up the phone or an alternative communication method.

Stick to the point. Give the information you need to give or ask the question you need to ask and that is it. Don’t beat around the bush or give unnecessary amounts of information. You wouldn’t like to read an essay in your inbox and you recipients wouldn’t like it either.

“Save me the labor, give me the baby” as one of my friends used to say.

4. Send individual emails

Often times  you need to be in touch with more than one person on a particular subject. If that is the case, send everyone an individual email, instead of blasting one out to the entire team.

If you absolutely need to send the message to more than one recipient, address each one of them in the body of the email separately. This way everyone knows what part of the email was specific to them and they get back to your faster.

Don’t CC people just to keep them “in the know”. That creates confusion as people don’t know why they are getting this particular message.

5. Separate the questions

If you have a question (or several) to ask in your email, separate them from the rest of the information. This will make them stand out and will make it easier for your recipient to answer them. You can even bold them or underline them for extra visibility.

If you receive an email that has several questions, provide an answer below each one, instead of in one bulkier chunk of text. This will make it easier and more clear to understand for the other side.

6. Use abbreviations

Abbreviations will make your subject lines stand out from the crowd. They also save space and can provide a great deal of information for the other side.

Here is a list of the most common email abbreviations:

  • Q  – question
  • FYI – for your information
  • IMPT – important
  • RMNDR – reminder
  • RE – regarding

If no reply is needed to your email, put in the subject line abbreviations such as EOM (end of email), NRN (no response needed) to let the other side know not to waste any time replying.

Make sure you use abbreviations everyone would understand. If it perfectly fine to come up with your own internal creations when you are communicating with colleagues, team members, family and other groups of people when everyone is on the same page. But avoid using abbreviations that only you know the meaning off. That will confuse your recipients and lower your chance of a fast response.

7. Strike the ego

People like to feel good. If you are the one who makes them feel that way, you’ll get your emails replied to faster.

Affirm the person’s wisdom, input, fast response time, etc., by starting your emails with a “thank you”. If the person on the other side feels valued and appreciated, they are more likely to reply to your email.

Don’t push it. Thank them only if you truly mean it. Don’t just write those words so you can get a faster reply.

8. Stay out of the spam folder

Sometimes your emails will be mistakenly labeled as spam and put in the wrong folder, away from the eyes of your intended recipient.

Here is what you can do to make sure that does not happen:

  • Don’t send big attachments. A lot of email clients and services have issues with attachments (especially big ones) and reading them. If they cannot read them, or they are above the size limit, your email goes into the spam folder directly. If you need to send a big file, consider putting it in Dropbox, or uploading it somewhere online and sending just the link to download it.
  • Don’t overcapitalize. If you put too much of your subject line or email body in caps that can trigger a spam alert. Capitalize only a certain word if you need to, not the entire sentences.
  • Avoid using spam trigger words such as “FREE”, “subscription”, “trial offer” and “guarantee” in your emails.

9. Use deadlines in your subjects

Including some kind of a time frame in your subject lines will make them more specific and also create a sense of urgency.

Be specific.

“Please call me before 5 PM on Tuesday” is specific.

“Please call me today” is not specific. “Today” means a different time to different people, especially if they are in a different time zone. Not to mention, if the email is seen on the next day, it creates confusion.

Avoid using ASAP (as soon as possible) or COB (close of business). These abbreviations have been overused and have a bad rep. Plus, they are not specific at all. ASAP it totally dependent on when the recipient sees the email. COB implies that you and your correspondent have the exact same understanding of when the work day ends which is rarely the case.

10. Forward emails only with an introduction

If you forward an email to someone, include a little introduction, or a note of why you are doing it.

Often times, people forward emails to other team members or colleagues expecting them to understand why they are getting it, only to leave the other side confused and frustrated.

Always make it clear why the other side is receiving the email. Even if you “think” it is obvious from the subject or the body of the email, your extra effort will go a long way in getting a faster response.

11. Don’t send pointless emails

If you are “that” person with the funny forwards, cute cat pictures and “if you send this to 10 of your friends the magic genie will grant you all your wishes” type of emails, people won’t take your emails seriously when you actually mean business.

People get a lot of emails and have limited time. They would appreciate a funny email every now and then, but if you overdo it, don’t expect to get fast responses as you would’ve trained your recipients not to take emails from you seriously.

12. When urgent, pick up the phone

At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do with an email. If you really need to get in touch with someone, pick up the phone and call them. Email is no substitute for live or face-to-face communication.

13. Use tracking software to test different methods

There is not one tactic that will work for everyone, all the time, to get faster responses. That is why it is important to test different methods and see what works best for you and whoever you are communicating with.

Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t get a fast reply just because the other side has not seen your email yet, not because you did not write it well enough. So how can you test different tactics if you don’t know when your recipients open your emails?

Enter Yesware and Signals.

Both of these software applications will tell you when the other side has opened your email(s). All they do is attach a tracking pixel to your outbound emails so you know when they get opened. In case you are wondering, this is completely legal and ethical and the technology has been used by email marketing companies for the last decade at least.

Knowing when your emails are opened will allow you to make better assumptions as to why you reply time is what it is. If a lot of people open your emails, but take a good amount of time to get back to you, this might be an indicator that you could improve your outbound emails with the above tactics.

In any case, having more data will allow to make more educated guesses so it is always good to have it.

Over to you now

Getting a faster response to your emails is crucial. To make it easy on the other side, make sure your outbound emails are as good as they can be. Make them short and specific. Use good, attention-grabbing subject lines that either inform or ask for something.

Above all lead by example by sending prompt replies to the emails you receive.

What are some other ways to ensure getting a fast response to your emails? Share in the comment section below.