Four Ways to Get People to Respond to Your Emails

March 3, 2016

If you’re disappointed that people don’t respond to your emails, try these four simple ways to get answers from professional email duckers. You’ll reduce your stress and improve your results:

  1. Motivate the reader with a great subject line. Perhaps you aren’t satisfied with the way orders are processed at your company. You will get better results with a subject line that says Opportunity to Book 20% More Revenue instead of Problem with Order Entry.
  2. Shorten your email. If there are 100 emails in a person’s inbox, he or she will open the one that’s easiest to deal with. Something that can be viewed in the reading pane is far more likely to get answered.
  3. Assume action. Wally, for whom I once worked, was an expert phone call ducker. I learned to leave voicemails that said, “Tuesday, at 2PM EDT, I’m accepting a $25,000 return from the Chicago distributor so he can order $75,000 worth of material he will be able to sell this year. Call me by 1:45PM Tuesday to stop me.” Wally joked that he loved plausible deniability. Borrow this for email by sending the subject line Reserving Our Hotel Rooms for May Conference on March 20. Write a week beforehand. Begin the email by assuming you have the order. “Thanks for suggesting I go to the annual meeting to present our findings. I will reserve our hotel rooms on March 20 so that we get the 10% discount before the deadline.”
  4. Know when to pick up the phone. An engineer was notorious for doing all her work on a keypad. One victim never replied to her. I called when Kirsten said he wouldn’t respond. Brian moaned and said, “Is that what Kirsten keeps writing about? Her emails are auto-sorted by an Outlook rule I created. I just delete them without reading them.” Kirsten was trying to solve an $800 problem. She had sent 72 emails on the topic! Brian told me, “It’s not even worth my time. If she’d called me, I would have told her I could write that amount off. I’ll do it right now. Thanks for calling instead of writing.”

When you use these four techniques, you’ll improve your response rate. That will have a positive impact upon your professional reputation. When a coworker complains about an email avoider, you’ll be able to say, “Really? She always gets back to me! Let me see if I can help.”

Contributed by Laura Simms, risk and safety specialist for CoStaff Services.

Join us for the “Write for Results” seminar on March 15, 2016 with Laura Simms.