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16 Tips to Double Your Reply Rates

10 min read
March 1, 2021

The first step to closing a deal is getting a lead to engage. Even for inbound leads, if the first communication isn’t perceived well (or read at all), you’ll have virtually no shot of closing that deal. 

Jeremey Donovan, SVP of Sales Strategy at Salesloft, looked at more than 3,000,000 emails sent from the Salesloft platform in the first half of 2020. From that analysis, he identified 16 data-driven tips for prospecting that he shared during Tenbound’s Virtual Sales Development Conference. These insights will set you on a path to higher response rates and better communication with your prospects. 

Watch Jeremey’s talk or check out our recap below the video.

Higher Email Response Rates Start Now

1. The best time and day to engage is NOW.

Great news. You don’t have to choose the best time to send that email — any day is fine. Just make contact! (Okay, one caveat: Friday afternoon and Saturdays are bad, so keep it to the heart of the workweek.)

2. Respond rapidly and personally to inbound leads.

Only 40% of reps actually respond in the first five minutes after a lead is received, and 60% in the first hour. 10% don’t respond at all (yikes!), so be on the ball with a rapid, personalized reply to land your lead. 

3. Keep subject lines short.

Prospects don’t like long emails (see #6 below), so why would they like long subject lines? There’s an 87% higher reply rate when you use just one word in your subject line. What word, you ask? Well…

4. Mention your company in the subject line.

Yep, your company’s name is the magic word that piques a prospect’s interest. By the way, never use the recipient’s name in the subject or suffer a 12% reduction in reply rate — it looks like marketing spam and gets deleted. 

5. Pursue referrals.

Referrals are an easy way to get your foot in the door, and while you can’t build on referrals alone, they’ll be your best friend in getting real phone time with a prospect. 

6. Keep emails short.

Even as consumers, we know the shorter the better. The sweet spot for increasing replies is 25-50 words (ideal for a mobile screen). Once you get to 50-100 words you’re in the danger zone, and anything over 100 will tank r your reply rate. 

7. Your prospects are “so over COVID.”

COVID isn’t over, but talking about it is. There’s a 47% decrease in response rate if you mention COVID-19 in the subject line, and it’s even worse if mentioned in the body of your email. Leaning on the pandemic is overdone and the lagging reply rates we’re seeing are proof.

8. Hope is a helpful opener (but avoid it in the subject line).

Instead of the doom and gloom of a pandemic, well-wishes and messages of hope are good email openers. These messages show empathy and evoke positivity instead of worry. 

9. “Hey [Name]!” is the most effective greeting.

Casual, to-the-point, and effective, this simple greeting has been effective for about a year. As all things do, this may change in time, but for now it’s a slam-dunk opener.

10. It’s not only fine, but actually better, to begin emails with “I” instead of “You.”

Emails beginning with “I” gain a higher than average reply rate. You lose 40% on your reply rate if you start with “You” or “We.”

11. If authentic to do so, use emphasis at the end of the first sentence.

Reply rates on emails with exclamation points at the end of the first sentence garnered more responses than those without. As with all things, don’t overdo it. Emphatic punctuation here and there can express excitement, authenticity, and positivity, but can also be perceived as overzealous and unprofessional if you use it too much. Use your best judgment!

12. Write emails with conversational balance.

Your customers don’t mind being marketed to as long as they aren’t aware of it. That’s why striking a conversational balance in your communication is so pivotal. Give them the information but in a way you’d speak to others naturally. Strike a 50% balance between “I” and “you” statements, and keep it comfortably casual.

13. Avoid bullets and dashes.

If you haven’t noticed yet, simplicity is key. Avoid overusing all punctuation, including bullets and dashes, which hint that you may be including too much information or extra filler in your emails (remember: 25-50 words!).

14. Stick to plain text.

Avoid bold, italic, and underlined text in your emails. Write as you would to a friend without making it look like a marketing email.

15. Minimize hyperlinks.

Emails without hyperlinks perform highest. Emails with just one hyperlink are the second highest in performance. Be sparing with links because multiple links  scream “we’re marketing to you” and will turn off your prospect. 

16. The best way to sign off is “Best.”

Simple, warm, and empathetic. “Best” has proven to check the boxes when it comes to reply rate. Formal closers like “Sincerely” and “Regards” aren’t performing well anymore, while “Cheers” was slightly better (but not best!).

There you have it: 16 tactics you can put to work today to ramp up your replies and crush your quota. Keep an eye on our blog for more tips and tricks like this, and happy selling!