Email subjects can convey all they need to know

Sometimes email subject headlines don’t communicate effectively the level of urgency or importance, so how can we make them more effective?

The subject of an email can make or break it. If write a bland or dull one why should we expect the email to be read. How many emails do you get in a day? 20, 50, 100? If we get a lot or we’re very busy we tend to read the email for those people we think we should or those that look interesting or urgent. So getting the subject right can be vital.

(One caveat before go any further is that we should not make them too extreme or they may resemble spam rather than well crafted emails.)

A good place to start is what do you want the recipient to do with the email, so we can start with the action, for example;

a. For your information
b. Action required
c. Action required by 4.00pm on Tuesday 17th March
d. Update on zebra project – no action needed

We need to make sure it is clear what the project or piece of work is in the subject headline, for example;
a. Project zebra – for your information
b. Project zebra – action required
c. Project zebra – please read before meeting on Tuesday 4.00pm

Some smart phones only show part of the headline and part of the text before the email is opened. Some people also do not read all the headline. In these circumstances it can be an idea to repeat the headline in the text but to reverse ir. For example;
a. Project zebra – please read in preparation for meeting on Thursday 10.00am
b. In preparation for meeting on Thursday 10.00am please read the attached…
b. Meeting Thursday 10.00 – please read in preparation
Some would say that the more precise language we use in the subjects of our emails the more chance we have of successful communication. That may be true but at least it is worth a try and it seems to make sense.
More on email drafting in future posts.

Email subjects – how can I phrase them to be more effective?