The average office worker receives about 121 emails per day according to a study posted by Campaign Monitor. That's a lot of interruption, especially for folks who spend a lot of time in meetings or with clients. If you’re the one sending the emails, how do you make sure you’re getting the response you need?
11 ways to solicit a prompt response.
If you’re not sure your emails are getting through, think about why this could be happening. Then, try these 11 tips to make sure your emails are getting the responses you need.
1. Be concise.
Keep your message and ask short. If you require a lengthy explanation or update consider the channel; would a phone call, video or meeting be a better way to share information? Try to keep your emails concise and be clear about what you need from the recipient.
2. Be specific.
Tell your reader what you need and by when. For example, you could say "Please respond to this email and let me know if you will be attending the staff meeting by Wednesday at 5 pm." Notice this says 5 pm, NOT end of day. End of day can mean different things to different people, especially if you’re working on a distributed team.
3. Use a compelling subject line.
Your email will not get a response if it's never opened. Make sure to use a compelling subject line that entices the recipient to open the message. This way, they can respond to it!
4. Keep the distribution list small.
If you email everyone, you run the risk of no one responding. Keep the distribution list small when you need a reply. You may also want to specifically let everyone on the email know from whom you expect to see replies.
5. Copy a person’s supervisor if they’re not responding.
Is there someone who chronically ignores your emails? When you need to send them a message back, try copying their boss. This should be used sparingly.
6. Follow up.
With the high volume of emails, occasionally, messages get lost. If you’re not getting the response you need, try following up via email or with a phone call.
7. Try using other means of communication.
For really important information, think about other ways to communicate. This is especially important with sensitive information or if you need the reader to understand your tone, which could get lost via email.
8. Carefully consider when you’re sending email.
To increase the likelihood of a response, send your email at the best time for your recipient. For example, if you know they have a lot of morning meetings, try sending it in the afternoon.
9. Create a sense of urgency
Give a deadline and let your reader know when you need to hear from them. If you're asking members of your team if they want to attend a training class with 20 seats available, say so. That way, you’ll get people to commit quickly before the class is full.
10. Find the optimal time of day to send emails
Is there a time of day or a day of the week when people seem particularly productive? Use that time to get your emails into their inboxes!
11. Avoid late-night or weekend emails (unless you’re sending emails about something happening on the weekend).
Some people find late-night or weekend emails disrespectful. If you’re working to clear your inbox but don’t want to interrupt anyone else’s family time, try using an email scheduling tool. Even if you’re typing away on Sunday afternoon, you can have it hit the recipient’s inbox Monday morning.
When should you ask for a prompt response?
Ask yourself if your message requires a prompt response (or even any response at all). If your email is purely informational, you might not need a one. You might still want people to acknowledge that they got the information, and if you do, say so. Other situations might actually demand a prompt response. For example:
• You need information that's time-sensitive.
If you’re working on a report or have a deadline, you probably need a response sooner rather than later. Make sure you let your recipient know why you need what you’re asking for. It will help them prioritize your email over others that may be in their inbox.
• You’re making a limited-time offer.
This may be the case if you are selling something or advertising a course. You'll need people to make their decision or enroll by a specific date. Make certain this is clear from your email, and you’ll get what you need.
• You’re preparing for a big presentation or event.
Getting ready for a big pitch or planning the annual sales meeting? You’ll probably need input and approval from other departments. Be clear about what you need and why and you’ll set yourself up to ace the presentation.
• You’re not sure what the next step is
If your work is stalled and you don’t know what to do next you might need a speedy response so you don’t throw off a project timeline. Be clear about what you’ve done and why you're stuck — you’ll be unstuck in no time at all.