7 Proven Ways To Write Emails That Get Replies, Backed By Science

by Bernie Reeder in Work Smart

Effective email writing boils down to one thing: Mind reading. 


Sure, we’re all different, but in many instances our brains are prone to react to psychological triggers in a similar manner. Understanding these subtleties can help you hone in on creative ways to persuade others to take a desired course of action, like reply to more of your meticulously written emails. 
Here are seven powerful psychological principles that can help you get busy people to respond to your emails, backed by template reply-rate data and examples from Yesware’s own sales team.  

1. Social Proof
Peer pressure is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and still one of the smartest. It accounts for why emails have higher open rates when sent to multiple people, and higher response rates when mentioning other stakeholders at the company. Because when it comes to making decisions –like whether or not to reply to someone’s email– we take cues from other people. 

 What it means: If your prospect sees proof that his colleagues are receptive to your ideas, he’ll be more likely to jump on the bandwagon and give you the time of day. It’s one of the reasons this prospecting template from Yesware’s Paul Hlatky has been so effective at garnering replies:

2. Provide A Reason (Because I Said So)
A study performed by Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer found that people were more willing to comply with a request (in this instance, cut in line) when people used the word “because.” Even when the reason was seemingly nonsensical (i.e. “Can I use the copy machine first because I need to make a copy?”), nearly all (93%) people complied. 

What it means: When you ask someone to do you a favor, you’ll be more successful if you provide a reason. Because (see what I did there?) yes, in today’s world of 24-7-365 communication and mile long to-do lists, answering an email from someone you don’t know is a favor. 

3. Throw In The Frog
You’ve been going back and forth with someone for weeks now, and then suddenly, they’re MIA. No reply. Won’t return your phone calls. Nothing. What’s your next move? 
You throw in the frog. 
In an experiment by O’Quinn and Aronoff, participants were assigned to “buyer” and “seller” roles and asked to negotiate the price of a painting. Half of the sellers received instructions to use the line “my final offer is $_, …and I’ll throw in a pet frog.” This led to relaxation, smiles, and increased compliance, with buyers agreeing to pay significantly more money than when the frog joke was not used. 

What it means: When you make someone smile, they relax. Humor can help break down objections and win over an otherwise unreceptive audience.Here’s an example of how breaking the ice can earn you replies:

4. Choose Your Numbers Wisely
Let’s look at three quick tips that can increase your chances of getting your email opened and keeping their attention long enough to get a reply, all backed by science.

1.      Include digits in the subject line. Numbers written out as numerals (i.e. 33 as opposed to thirty-three) have been shown to stop wandering eyes of online readers, making it more likely that your email will get noticed in an overcrowded inbox.

2.      Use statistics and data. It makes you appear more credible.

3.      Remember: Three is the magic numberNumerous studies have proven that the brain likes to be presented with three choices, whereas four choices may trigger skepticism and anything higher than that can lead to confusion. Try breaking your email into three (short) paragraphs, offer three options for meeting times, or describe your product using three adjectives.  

5. Keep It Short & Simple
Brevity is the soul of wit. So it should come as no surprise that it’s the soul of effective emails, too. Drawing from data culled from five years of emails in an executive recruiting firm, researchers found that shorter emails result in quicker response time, leading to higher overall productivity. 

What it means: Don’t waste their time. Be considerate of your audience and use spacing, numbers, bulleted lists etc., to visually break up your message so that it’s easy to digest and take action on. MIT’s Marshall Van Alstyne argues that Twitter length  - roughly 140 characters – is ideal. Here’s what that looks like:

6. Use Their Name More Than Once
Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. -Dale Carnegie
Dale wasn’t kidding. “Few things light us up quite like seeing our own names in print or on the screen,” explain the folks at Copyblogger, citing recent research on brain activation. “Our names are intrinsically tied to our self-perception and make up a massive part of our identity. No surprise then, that we become more engaged and even more trusting of a message in which our name appears.”

What it means: Personalization is key. Try catching their eye by placing their name in the subject line — i.e. “Hi Jim, it’s Bernie from Yesware.” Asking for a reply that requires more than a simple yes/no? Throw in a simple “Thanks for your time, Jim” to close out your email. 

7. Be Specific 
Being vague isn’t going to help you clinch that important meeting. According to research by psychologist Robert Sutton, people are more responsive and willing to help if they’ve been given clear directions on how to contribute. Research coming out of Carnegie Mellon also found that people are more likely to respond to email requests that are easy to answer, as opposed to complex messages that require more time and mental energy to address.

What it means: Ending your emails with open ended statements — i.e. “Let me know what works best for you” or “how is your schedule this week?” — does more harm than good. Rather than take the time and energy to make the decision for both of you, they instead opt for “no decision” and you get no reply to your email.

You should end every email with a pointed call to action. Buy or not buy? Meet or not meet? Interested or hold off? Here’s an example that’s worked particularly well for our team:


A Three Step Voice Mail Challenge

Everyday each of our Sales Pros have to leave VOICE MESSAGES for future business clients. At best it frustrating and at worst it is more frustrating.  This article gives you a three step challenge on a new way to handle prospecting in a time of endless voice mail.  If you have Mr. or Ms prospect who never returns your voice mail, what do you have to lose?


If you work in a professional services firm or sell B2B products, you need to be prospecting on a consistent basis to ensure your sales funnel is strong.
When making those calls to new leads, it’s not uncommon to hear dejected sales professionals complain that all they get is voicemail and the prospect never returns their calls.
It’s important not to get too frustrated because, no matter how successful you are, you’ll have to deal with voicemail most of the time. But what makes the difference between good sales professionals and great ones is how they use voicemail to their advantage.
Below is an exercise in how to use voicemail to build suspense! Use this exercise for the week when prospecting and see how well it works. It’s designed to be run from Monday to Friday.
Step 1. Leave a succinct message that requires no action from prospect or lead
Example: “Hi Enrico, its Shawn from company XYZ. Sorry I missed you. The reason for my call is because Arlin at company ABC suggested that I get in touch with you about what we were able to accomplish at his company that helped drive more leads to his sales pipeline. I will call you back Wednesday at 4 p.m. to try and connect. Talk then.”

The objective of this first message is to just let them know you called. There’s no reason to leave a phone number or talk about your company. Your first message shouldn’t require any type of action on the part of the prospect/lead. You’re the one who is making the commitment to reach back out – the onus is on you.
Step 2. Leave a succinct follow up message
As promised you need to follow up at the time you suggested. If you get the prospect/lead’s voicemail again, leave them another short message but this time leave them with a teaser – something that compels them to want to talk to you! Again, don’t put any action on them, this is your second call and you want to keep it short and compelling. Just commit to calling back again.
Example: “Hi Enrico, it’s Shawn from company XYZ calling. As promised on Monday, I would reach back out to try and connect. Sorry I missed you.
Arlin at company ABC thought it would be a good idea for us to connect so you can learn more about how we were able to help them increase sales leads within six months of kicking off our program. I will try you again on Friday at 8 a.m. Talk soon.”

Step 3. Leave a third and final message for the week if the prospect/lead doesn’t pick up the phone for a third time
“Hi Enrico, it’s Shawn from company XYZ. I promised that I would reach back out today at 8 a.m. Sorry I missed you. It’s too bad we haven’t had an opportunity to connect yet. Perhaps you’re busy developing your next company marketing program or maybe I’m just picking the wrong times to reach you. Why don’t you give me a call at ###-###-#### and if I don’t hear from you next week, I will try again shortly thereafter.”

My challenge to you
This simple three-step voicemail strategy has been field tested for many years with a number of sales professionals as part of a program I run. So I know it works, but in case you’re not able to break through after one week of calls (which happens often as well) don’t stop prospecting.
If you go past the three days, continue to call, but drop it to twice a week. In those calls share specific benefits from your engagement and bring them ideas on how you feel you can benefit them. Your goal is to continue to educate, compel, and intrigue them over voicemail.
Some of the most successful and profitable businesses I know use this approach repeatedly. Just don’t be so quick to give up. Have some tenacity!
Ryan Caligiuri is the president of Ryan Caligiuri International, a consultancy focused on driving revenue growth through creative growth strategies for professional services firms.

It might be “THE IDEA” that works!  I am going to give this a try, cause I have nothing to lose except a couple of phone calls. Mel,

Managing Stress

Stress impacts each of our lives in so many different ways.  Often we are not even aware that we are being driven by a stressful situation.  One of the first things to do is to understand the Stress and then take steps to nullify its impact on our lives.  The article alludes to stress like a glass of water. If we hold a 10 ounce glass for  10 minutes no problem.  If we hold a 10 ounce glass of water for an hour our arm starts to get sore.  If we hold the glass for a day they will need to call the paramedics.

So it is with stress, eventually we will not be able to function if we do not get some relief.  The article suggests that you put it down occasionally and definitely not carry it  into the evening.  Put it down and if you need to pick it up tomorrowmorning.  However, when you start to understand the stress, each time you do this, you will pick up less of a burden


Managing Stress only comes after
Identifying the cause of the Stress
A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'..... she fooled them all...
 "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile.  Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter.
It depends on how long I hold it.
·         If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.
·         If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.
·          If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "And that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens without setting them aside, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavier, we won't be able to carry on."
"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.  When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – because you have identified the stress, each time you put it down and pick it back up again, it will become easier with each session.  Regardless of your stress, don't carry it into the evening.  Put it down and if you have to, pick it back up tomorrow. You may also find that you do not have to pick up as much of your burden now that you have identified it and are working to better manage the stress. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, set them down for a moment. Relax and then pick them up later after you've rested. 
Life is short. Enjoy it and the now 'supposed' stress that you've set down or maybe conquered!"
Always keep your words soft and sweet
Always read stuff that makes you feel good during and after
Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker..
If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague
If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth the investment.
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
God does provide for each bird, but he does not throw it into their nest.
The second mouse gets the cheese.
When everything's coming your way, you may be on the wrong side of the pathway.
Birthdays are good for you:
·         The more you have the longer you live
·         If it was not for birthdays, one day you would be dribbling your pabulum all over your gray cardigan and not  know why
·         If it was not for birthdays, One day you would find yourself in the basement with no memory of why you are there. With Birthdays you know that you are 95 and can’t remember! 
Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
 We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull.  Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
 A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Have an awesome day
And know that someone has thought about you today.

9 Qualities of Truly Confident People

First things first: Confidence is not bravado, or swagger, or an overt pretense of bravery. Confidence is not some bold or brash air of self-belief directed at others. Confidence is quiet: It’s a natural expression of ability, expertise, and self-regard.
I’m fortunate to know a number of truly confident people. The majority are people I’ve met through my career and who work in a variety of industries and professions. It comes as no surprise they all share a number of qualities:

1. They take a stand not because they think they are always right… but because they are not afraid to be wrong. Cocky and conceited people tend to take a position and then proclaim, bluster, and totally disregard differing opinions or points of view. They know they’re right – and they want (actually they need) you to know it too. Their behavior isn’t a sign of confidence, though; it’s the hallmark of an intellectual bully.
Truly confident people don’t mind being proven wrong. They feel that finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And when they’re wrong, they’re secure enough to back down graciously. Truly confident people often admit they’re wrong or don’t have all the answers; intellectual bullies never do.

2. They listen ten times more than they speak.  Bragging is a mask for insecurity. Truly confident people are quiet and unassuming. They already know what they think; they want to know what you think. So they ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective: They ask what you do, how you do it, what you like about it, what you learned from it… and what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation.  Truly confident people realize they know a lot, but they wish they knew more… and they know the only way to learn more is to listen more.

3. They duck the spotlight so it shines on others.  Perhaps it’s true they did the bulk of the work. Perhaps they really did overcome the major obstacles. Perhaps it’s true they turned a collection of disparate individuals into an incredibly high performance team.  Truly confident people don’t care – at least they don’t show it. (Inside they’re proud, as well they should be.) Truly confident people don’t need the glory; they know what they’ve achieved.  They don’t need the validation of others, because true validation comes from within.  So they stand back and celebrate their accomplishments through others. They stand back and let others shine – a confidence boost that helps those people become truly confident, as well.

4. They freely ask for help.  Many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness; implicit in the request is a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience.  Confident people are secure enough to admit a weakness. So they often ask others for help, not only because they are secure enough to admit they need help but also because they know that when they seek help they pay the person they ask a huge compliment.  Saying, “Can you help me?” shows tremendous respect for that individual’s expertise and judgment. Otherwise you wouldn't ask.

5. They think, “Why not me?” Many people feel they have to wait: To be promoted, to be hired, to be selected, to be chosen... like the old Hollywood cliché, to somehow be discovered.  Truly confident people know that access is almost universal. They can connect with almost anyone through social media. (Everyone you know knows someone you should know.) They know they can attract their own funding, create their own products, build their own relationships and networks, choose their own path – they can choose to follow whatever course they wish. And very quietly, without calling attention to themselves, they go out and do it.

6. They don't put down other people. Generally speaking, the people who like to gossip, who like to speak badly of others, do so because they hope by comparison to make themselves look better. The only comparison a truly confident person makes is to the person she was yesterday – and to the person she hopes to someday become.

7. They aren’t afraid to just be silly…
When you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally being in a situation where you let your inhibitions go and just have fun. (And oddly enough, people tend to respect you more when you do – not less.)

8. … And they own their mistakes.  Insecurity tends to breed artificiality; confidence breeds sincerity and honesty. That’s why truly confident people admit their mistakes. They dine out on their screw-ups. They don’t mind serving as a cautionary tale. They don’t mind being a source of laughter – for others and for themselves.
When you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally “looking bad.” You realize that that when you’re genuine and unpretentious, people don’t laugh at you. They laugh with you.

9. They only seek approval from the people who really matter.  You say you have 10k Twitter followers? Swell. You say that you have 20k Facebook friends? Cool. You say that you have a professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands? That’s great.  But that also pales in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the few people in your life that truly matter. When we earn their trust and respect, no matter where we go or what we try, we do it with true confidence – because we know the people who truly matter the most are truly behind us.
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Dharmesh Shah

I thought that this article said a lot about confidence and self reliance.  The picture with the hand holding a tight rope reminds me of a lot of sales situations.  All of us are used to working without a net.  It is a little scary to think that sometimes it is an individual that is holding up one end of our tight rope.
 Keep your eye on prize Mel

Life Lessons from Regina Brett

By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:"

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. In an argument "Agree to Disagree".
Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a
"secret", you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take "no" for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, get out the good china and silverware. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
Over prepare, then go with the flow.
Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ''In five years, will this matter?".**
26. Always choose life.
Forgive everyone everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29. Time heals almost everything.
Give time, time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
32. Believe in miracles.
33. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
35. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
Your children get only one childhood.
37. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
38. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
39. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
40. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
41. The best is yet to come.
42. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
43. Yield.
44. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Under,  you cannot trust anyone, I took the time to look up Regina’s bio to see if she was still with us and was surprised to see a picture of the lady to the right.  It seems that someone took a few more liberties with her age to make the above more appealing.  She might not be 90 but I like her smile, so I decided it was fun just to let you know. 

** I was working for a farmer picking up hay bales and stacking them on a farm hay rack. We had been picking bales and putting them in the barn for most of the day.  The Iowa sun that had been blistering all day, was finally sinking closer to the horizon.  We finally finished a field and we were making our way out the gate. I got off of the hay rack to close the gate.  When I did I noticed that about half a field away was a hay bale which had rolled into the weeds, next to the fence line. 

I pointed down the fence line and said, “Averl we missed a bale!” He turned on the tractor seat and eyed that far away bale.  When he turned back, he said, “Mel, in 20 years I’ll never miss the damned thing.”  As he drove through the opening I closed the gate and got onto the back onto the hay rack. As we were heading down the road, I realized that this old farmer had just given me a life lesson.  The nice part is that it was early in my life and it was given to me for free. 

(This really did happen) Mel