Hidden Pages

Writing Effective Subject Lines

As each email only ever has one of 4 possible outcomes (Action required, Response requested, Read only, FYI), why not write this in the subject line to make it the very first thing your recipient reads?

If you receive an email with the words Action Required in the subject line, would that get your attention? Would that engage you to read the message to find out what’s required of you? And isn’t that what you want your readers to do when you send an email? 

In addition to the desired outcome, you should also specify a deadline for the outcome you desire. By doing this, you help your reader(s) to more effectively prioritise their emails and the resulting actions that are needed. As a result, you’re much more likely to get a timely response than if you don’t specify a deadline or timeframe. 

Finally, thinking through the desired outcome for your message also helps you to more accurately target who you send it to. Those who need to take action or respond should be placed in the To address line while those who only need to read it can be put in the CC line.

By thinking about your desired outcome before you write your message, you’ll tend to send it to less people (decrease quantity) but achieve better results (increase quality).

Click on image below to download a one page 'Cheat Sheet' summarising this strategy.