“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” – it’s a phrase that’s stuck in our heads for a reason: Humans make snap judgments quickly, and one place where we do this frequently is through email. However, because it limits face-to-face interaction, professional success via this medium relies heavily on the quality of your content and etiquette.
Since every email you write reflects your personality and professionalism, knowing what different recipients expect in terms of formality and length can help you develop and nurture key relationships.
BuzzStream and Fractl surveyed more than 1,200 men and women between the ages of 18 and 64 to find out how they use email and how gender, age, and level of education impact specific preferences and behaviors. The results compare how different individuals hope to be perceived versus what recipients actually think when they receive emails.
Younger individuals tend to rewrite emails more than their older counterparts to come across as more intelligent.
It’s in our nature to want to impress others, especially in the workplace. Our research indicates that this is especially true for younger generations when they write emails. Further analysis revealed the following:
- More than 40 percent more respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 rewrite emails to sound more intelligent than those between 55 and 64.
- Older generations prefer to come across as more authentic than intelligent, with close to 25 percent of those between 45 and 54 wanting to come across as authentic (the most out of any age group) versus less than 20 percent of those between 18 and 24.
- Exactly 20 percent of respondents between the ages of 55 and 64 agree that they “rarely” rewrite emails to sound more intelligent.
A preference for shorter emails increases with age.
Our research also reveals that the older the age of our respondents, the greater the preference for brevity. Exactly 100 percent more respondents between the ages of 55 and 64 have a stronger preference for shorter emails than 18- to 24-year-olds. Additional analysis revealed the following:
- Nearly 40 percent of all respondents found concise emails “perfectly acceptable” compared to less than 10 percent who shared similar feelings about verbose emails – nearly 125 percent difference.
- A majority of respondents between the ages of 55 and 64 – nearly 70 percent – find verbose emails unacceptable in some way.
- Respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 had the highest tolerance for longer emails, with more than 30 percent finding the practice acceptable.
Most respondents enjoy more humorous emails, especially as they get older.
Since emails rely heavily on nonverbal cues, a great way to add some personality to your emails is through humor. More than 60 percent of respondents find funnier emails acceptable, with more than 75 percent of respondents of the oldest demographic preferring to laugh out loud from an email. Other interesting insights include the following:
- Women prefer humor slightly more than men, with 16 percent more female respondents preferring its use compared to their male counterparts.
- The youngest generation has a lower tolerance for humor – close to 25 percent find humor unacceptable in some way.
- Exactly 50 percent more respondents between the ages of 45 and 54 enjoy humorous emails more than those between 25 and 34.
Nearly 80 percent of respondents agree that etiquette impacts the likelihood that they will respond to an email from a stranger, so knowing when to keep your correspondence short or add a bit of humor can make all the difference in earning a response.