The old school way of starting a letter with "Dear" doesn't translate well over email, as it turns out. An analysis of nearly 350,000 messages from over 20 online communities that make their message archives public found that people respond to emails significantly more when you get the tone of your email right.
Boomerang data scientist Brendan Greenley from the productivity software firm Boomerang looked at the opening and closing lines of each email within the communities and correlated them to the response rate each email received. The results showed that being friendly and somewhat casual were the way to go.
The most popular openings were "Hi" and "Hello," with "Dear," "Hey," and "Greetings" way behind. But which openings increased the email response rate?
Every email opening the team looked at correlated with a higher response rate—no matter which opening was used. So, you're better off using a greeting than just jumping right into your message—at least with your initial email.
"Perhaps we should move past the era of formal salutations," Greenley noted in a blog post. "Messages that struck a more informal, conversational tone from the start got more responses."
As for how to close an email? Thankful closings received the most responses. But whatever you do, avoid "best," as that had the lowest response rate.
Greenley suggested you "keep your audience in mind when you're starting to write a new message." And ultimately, match the tone of whoever you're emailing with.