This one change will improve your email response rate by 15 percent

There's one thing people do that is killing their email response rates.

Hint: It has something to do with the caps lock key.

That's the message a company called Boomerang is trying to send.

In a survey of 300,000 email subject lines (all available for public analysis), the company determined that using all caps is a sure way to get your message sent to the virtual circular bin (that is, the trash). Or...even worse. According to their research, using all caps can also get your message marked as spam. No one will ever see it.

In analyzing the subject lines, the response rate--or whether people open and read the message--dropped a full 15% compared to subject lines that use normal sentence case. It's one of the worst things you can do if you are trying to get the attention of an investor (or maybe a journalist) by email or market a new product. I've written about this before, but using creativity in a subject line is a much better strategy--one that has now worked on me countless times after writing about this recently. (You can stop now, though.)

As we all know by now, ALL CAPS is a sign of digital immaturity. It means you're yelling, for sure. It also means you don't know how to use italics or bold in apps like Slack. (Hint: You have to type asterisks like this: *bold* to use bold type.) In an email, using all caps in the subject line means you likely don't know how to craft a compelling message.

People often look for digital clues. When a message arrives that uses all caps, our brains suddenly switch into a dismissive mode. No matter what the subject line says, we assume it's a waste of time or sent from a spambot that is too dumb to use a more persuasive approach.

On social media, it's even worse. When someone types in all caps when making a comment or for a new post about their new job, we immediately assume the person is trying to get our attention without using persuasion. It's a shortcut used by people who have not been around computers long enough. I'M TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION USING ALL CAPS is one of the best ways to make people ignore you.

Interestingly, email is still a viable way to market a product. I've written before about how email has become digital noise, but the reason it's still effective is that it is still incredibly public and still widely used by every age group. Anyone can send an email to anyone else. On Facebook, you can lock down your account and make it private. On Twitter, you can block people if the use a certain phrase. But, for the most part, email is an open forum. You can still block people, and apps like Gmail block spam, but if you're in marketing, there's a good chance you can get the attention of the recipient.

That is, unless you use all caps. PLEASE STOP! Thanks.

RELATED: 19 unprofessional email habits that make everyone hate you

19 unprofessional email habits that make everyone hate you
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19 unprofessional email habits that make everyone hate you

Sending 'urgent' emails that aren't urgent

"Like the boy who cried wolf, if you abuse the urgent marker, it won't be long until no one will pay any attention to it," Rosemary Haefner, chief human-resources officer for CareerBuilder, tells Business Insider.

And when you finally do send a truly urgent email, no one will pay attention, she says.

(Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury via Getty Images)

Being too casual

While the tone of your message should reflect your relationship with the recipient, Haefner says, too much informality will make you come across as unprofessional.

She advises being judicious in your use of exclamation points, emoticons, colored text, fancy fonts, and SMS shorthand.

What's more, not everyone can quickly decode acronyms, Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of "Don't Burp in the Boardroom," tells Business Insider.

"Be especially mindful if you work with people from different generations, have language barriers, or prefer a more traditional tone," she says.

(tzahiV via Getty Images)

Being too stiff

At the same time, you don't want to come off as a robot.

"It's OK to add a bit of enthusiasm or personality to your emails," Vicky Oliver, author of "301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions" and "301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions," tells Business Insider.

She laments that sometimes she receives "one-line emails that are so transactional they sound like an automaton is responding."

(Just One Film via Getty Images)

Replying all

"Email is not a party in the break room, it's a communication tool," Haefner says. "If you're responding to an email sent out to a group, be sure you are only hitting 'reply all' if your reply is truly necessary for everyone to receive."

(John Lund via Getty Images)

Cc'ing without approval

At the very least, sharing information that's not yours to share is annoying. It could also be a liability.

Whether you're cc'ing a client on an email where your boss said something about them or including a coworker on an email chain where another coworker shares personal information, "No one likes to have someone else decide to cc someone without being asked first," Randall says.

The best rule of thumb is to never assume it's OK to share an email with someone new to the conversation.

(Medioimages/Photodisc via Getty Images)


"I am not a big believer in blind copying people on emails," Oliver says. "When I have been bcc'd, the first thing I think is, 'If she is bcc'ing me on this, who else has she bcc'd on other emails?'"

Bcc'ing conveys distrust and secrecy, she says.

"If you need to forward an email to someone who technically should not be on the chain, cut and paste the email into a separate email for that person," Oliver suggests.

(PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson via Getty Images)

Using a vague subject line

"It's me," "Hey," or "FYI" give the email recipient no indication of what you're emailing them about, and they're less likely to open your email as a result.

"None of these prompt immediate attention," Randall says. "A workplace email, is best when it's clear and concise. Giving the recipient a clue can encourage them to read and reply quicker."  

(Richard Goerg via Getty Images)

Not including a subject line at all

As Amanda Augstine, a career expert for TopResume, previously told Business Insider, this can be irritating to the recipient, who is forced to open the email to figure out what it's about.

(Lite Productions via Getty Images)

Starting a sentence in the subject line that you finish in the email's body

If you begin a thought or question that ends in the email, then the reader is once again forced to open the email, which is annoying, Augustine previously told Business Insider. The goal is to be clear and respectful of the recipient's time.

(Daryl Solomon via Getty Images)

A ridiculous email address

If you're sending out an email in a professional capacity, whether it's to a client, colleague, or potential employer, avoid sending it from an unprofessional email account, Randall says.

Anything cutesy, sexy, vulgar, or nonsensical will set a negative tone from the get-go. If you insist on keeping "," at the very least create a separate email account strictly for professional emails, Randall suggests.

(Robert Daly via Getty Images)

Putting words in ALL CAPS

ARE YOU YELLING?!?! Because that's what using all caps looks like.

Unless you want to give your email recipient a heart attack, turn your CAPS LOCK off. And while you're at it, ease off on all the exclamation points.

(OZ_Media via Getty Images)

Sending too many personal emails

Jokes, touching stories, and motivational quotes sent on occasion could cheer up someone's day, Randall says, but they can quickly become tiresome.

"No matter how well-meaning you are, bombarding your coworkers' email on a daily basis can prompt them to auto-delete," she says.

(Compassionate Eye Foundation/Hiep Vu via Getty Images)

Being snippy

It can be tempting to show a little ire in your follow-up email, especially when you've been waiting on something that hasn't been delivered. Don't, advises Oliver.

"People always remember the mean email," Oliver says, "which is why you must not send one."

(Jupiterimages via Getty Images)

Instead, she advises writing the email you want to send, saving it in your drafts folder for 48 hours, and then revising it to take out the snippiness.

"It will help you accomplish your goal faster because you will come off as patient and professional as opposed to snarky," she says.

Being curt

If you know the person really well, you can sometimes dispense with the niceties, Oliver says.

"But if the person to whom you're writing is a business colleague or a client, err on the side of politeness. Use words like 'please,' 'thank you,' and sign off with a word like, 'Best,'" she says.

(Stephan Hoeck via Getty Images)

Numerous typos

"Sent from my iPhone," is no excuse for sloppy emails.

While Oliver says one typo here and there is becoming more acceptable because everyone is sending emails from their phones, more than one per email is unprofessional.

If the email is important enough to send out while you're on the run, it's important enough to look over before you send it out.

(Hemera Technologies via Getty Images)

Sending emails at 3 a.m.

Oliver says that she's done it occasionally herself "because sometimes you wake up very early and you're feeling productive."

But she cautions that even in this 24/7 world, "most people look at the time stamp and hold it against you if it shows some crazy hour in the morning. At best, they think you're a workaholic who doesn't have a life. At worst, they think you're obsessive."

If inspiration strikes you at odd hours of the night, Oliver suggests writing the email, saving it in your drafts folder, and sending it during working hours.

(Images By Tang Ming Tung via Getty Images)

Annoying punctuation

If you choose to use an exclamation point, use only one to convey excitement, says Barbara Pachter, author of "The Essentials of Business Etiquette."

"People sometimes get carried away and put a number of exclamation points at the end of their sentences. The result can appear too emotional or immature," she writes in her book. "Exclamation points should be used sparingly in writing."

(Zoonar RF via Getty Images)

Unprofessional fonts

Purple Comic Sans has a time and a place — maybe? — but for business correspondence keep your fonts, colors, and sizes classic.

The cardinal rule: Your emails should be easy for other people to read.

"Generally, it is best to use 10- or 12-point type and an easy-to-read font such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman," Pachter advises.

As for color, black is the safest choice.

(Charles Falco via Getty Images)

Going too long

Most people spend seconds — not minutes or hours — reading an email, and a lot of people only skim them, so write your email accordingly.

Large blocks of text are hard to read, so it's better to break emails into short paragraphs, Haefner says. Bullet points or numbered lists are even easier to digest.

(Tim Shaffer / Reuters)

You can also use bold or italics to highlight important parts of your message, but you should do so sparingly.


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