How to get clients to reply

What happened? Your client hasn’t gotten back to you? Or maybe you found that only but a pitiable number of your clients reply to your well-meaning emails? Yeah, I get it. It sucks and feels so unfair. But you might want to consider the fact that these clients or customers of ours, like most of us, receive thousands upon thousands of emails a day. However, while it might be disappointing, it sure is understandable that those messages might have gotten lost or ignored in the email shuffle.

While phone calls or text message are handy mediums for communication which can substitute emails, emails remain the most frequently used, easiest, and fastest way to communicate with people, especially in business today.  Businessmen and women, like we and our clients or customers, prefer using this medium of communication—emails—especially for work purposes because it allows for convenient communication and quick turnaround. Most importantly, it is less intrusive; something almost everyone would appreciate – privacy.

Now, your clients, like you, do receive hundreds of this same emails daily of which yours is just one of them. How can you, therefore, make a good impression and increase the chances of your emails being among the few your clients will not just read but respond to as well? Below are things you can do to get clients to reply.

·        It can be as simple as asking for it

“The one thing that gets me to reply to an email is when the person puts ‘RESPONSE NEEDED’ at the end of the subject line,” says a St. Louis-based professional organizer, Janine Adams. She also confirms that it is very effective. Yes, in a case whereby you have been expecting a reply from a client for quite a while now, all you might just have to do to get him to reply to your email is to include a request for a response in your subject line. This means that you are conveying to your client that his response is equally important and has been expected long enough.

·        Change the subject line when the topic changes

Dianna Booher, author of What More Can I Say? Why Communication Fails and What to Do About it says, “…By updating the subject line on that thread, you re-engage all readers.” Of course, you can’t expect to talk about the same subject forever. That your client keeps replying to your emails at some point doesn’t necessarily mean that you are so important; instead, it shows that you are doing a great job at keeping to the pace of his desire to know. Once your clients start feeling that the email replies no longer apply to them, they gradually lose interest and stop reading eventually. Thus, you need to be versatile when emailing your clients. As soon as the initial subject line has been exhausted, making it unbecoming, you need to switch to a subject line more relevant to the present topic of discussion.

·        Being polite matters

Addressing your clients by name not only add to the specificity of your email but personalizes your message. Moreover, adding a personified greeting to your email, as suggested by the author of The Time Management Memory Jogger: Create Time for the Life You Want, Peggy Duncan, is a more polite way of addressing the recipient so that he sees your email more like a request rather than a demand. If you skip the greeting, your clients can easily assume the email was sent en masse, hence, a response is not required.

·        Be specific

Like hell, be specific. The first sentence(s) of your message plays the same role as the topic sentence of every paragraph – it says a lot about the purpose of your message. For every message you send, you must have a response you’re expecting from your client. However, like Lisa Zaslow, a New York-based professional organizer says, start your message by describing the response you want and your deadline. And since you want your request to be clear enough, use simple words and fewer words per sentence. Also, as you rightfully should, remain polite, yet, write actively. For instance say, ‘Please let me know by the end of the day if you can meet for lunch on the 20th’ instead of ‘Please, if you don’t mind, I’d like us to meet up for lunch on the 21st, let me know by the end of the day if you are in.’

·        Stay in the sweet spot when it comes to length

Yeah, once again fewer words. This is no joke. A study by email-marketing platform Boomerang found that response rates declined slowly from 50% for 125-word messages to about 44% for 500-word messages, finally falling flat until about 2,000 words and declined dramatically. Hence, it is only wise to be wary of the length of your message. Thus, to be on the safe side and boost your response rate, make sure not to exceed 125 words in your messages.

·        Use third-grade language

The readability of your message is also a contributing fact to your response rate boost. According to a study by Boomerang, the optimal reading grade level to write an email at is the third-grade reading level with simpler words and fewer words. This reading grade level provided a 36% boost in response rates, which is the highest impact of any reading grade-level language has had so far. is a website that lets you check your readability level. That will surely help if your message readability is or will be a problem.

·        Learn to Express emotions moderately

Emotions are something we can hardly handle as persons, but as professionals, we try as much as possible to moderate our positive or negative emotions instead of blowing it out of proportion and this is well appreciated by clients and customers and can get them to reply no matter how unfavourable it might appear to be. It might be a complaint. In this case, Boomerang CEO Alex Moore says it is better to say something like, “I had an awful experience at your store today. The clerk was very rude. Please do something to make it right,” instead of “Your store experience sucks. Your clerk is a douchebag. Piss off and I hope you die in agony.”

Furthermore, as the Boomerang study found, learn to use words like great, wonderful, delighted, pleased, bad, hate, furious, and terrible which express positive and negative emotions to a moderate extent as it can boost your email’s response rate to by 10% to 15% over emails that were neutral or strongly emotional.

·        Use rich Text

Present your messages in a way that suggests importance or urgency. Even while the compatibility of different email programs may not display your bold or color-highlighted response, Zaslow still suggests that it’s worth the try. You can as well use bullet points to increase readability as Duncan suggests, and use a different color text to draw attention to deadlines.

·        Be strategic about when you send your message

What period of time do you send your emails? In the afternoon? Or maybe you’re thinking in the evening is better? Well, a reliable study by email tracking software provider Yesware of 500,000 emails found that emails sent between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. get the highest response rates, about 45%. In afternoons and evenings, more emails are sent. And that means more competition. In the morning, however, the competition is lesser because, during this time slot, fewer emails are sent.

Do you find that you have not been doing some of these things? That might just be the problem. Feel free as well to leave your suggestions in a comment below as regards other things one can do to get a reply from clients as soon as possible. But honestly, in some cases, it can just be as easy as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when appropriate like when we were in kindergarten, remember!

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