Here's #5 of the Top 5 Email Frustrations

Do you get frustrated by email subject lines that are unclear or don't match the message?

As you can see from the graph attached, this is #5 of the Top 5 Email Frustrations, as identified by 2695 survey participants since March 2006.

After 12 years working in this space, I reckon the single most important element in an effective email is the subject line!

  • The body of your message might be written superbly but if the subject line doesn't get the reader's attention, your email won't be effective.

  • You may send the message to exactly the right people but if the subject line doesn't get the reader's attention, your email won't be effective.

  • Your message may be timed to arrive at the perfect time but if the subject line doesn't get the reader's attention, your email won't be effective.

There is now a vast volume of research of what makes for an effective subject line and these include;

  • phrases you should and should NOT use

  • the best time(s) for your message to be received

  • whether to use UPPER, lower or Mixed case

  • the number of words in your subject line

  • words to avoid being caught up by spam filter

For fuller details, take a look at one of the research pieces done by Yesware which analyzed 115 million messages.

How to Write An Effective Subject Line

One of the key things I show in the 7 Ways to Write More Effective Email is that an effective subject line should include 3 elements;

  1. the outcome you desire for the email (ie: there are only ever 4 - Action, Reply, Read Only, FYI)

  2. the timeframe for your desired outcome (eg: COB today, by Friday next week, etc)

  3. a succinct, accurate summary of the topic of your message

Most of us only include the third of these 3 elements (and even then, with probably less than ideal wording) so just imagine how much more impact our messages will have when all 3 are included. It makes it so much easier for the recipient to quickly identify what's required of them, understand when it is required, and what the topic is. The easier we make it at their end, the more likely we will get the result we want at ours!

One of the secrets to effective subject lines is to write the subject line AFTER you've written the message. You have a clearer idea of how to summarise your message AFTER you've written than you do before.

Remember, the whole aim of the subject line is simply to get the recipient to open your email. After that, you use the Inverted Pyramid format to write your message with a structure that makes it easy for them to quickly understand what you require them to do with your message. I'll write more about Inverted Pyramid structure in next week's post.

Get Control of E-mail in 2018

If you'd like to discuss how to get control of e-mail in 2018 for yourself or for your team, why not contact me in the next few weeks and let's discuss your situation and some options to consider for converting e-mail from a major liability into revenue-generating activity. Depending on your organisation, we can turn email from a $28k per person per year cost or liability into a $75k pp pa revenue generator!

All the best,



Steuart Snooks