Do Your Emails Get Answers?

By Laura-Lee McKeown

Today I am writing about Subject Lines. You know, the space at the top of an email in which a line of text is written that tells you what the email is about. Well that sounds boring doesn’t it? But stick with me! Subject lines are important and very useful.

I write a lot of emails in a day in my work at Flow. I am that type of person who likes to keep things moving and I have found that a well written subject line gets me quick responses.

I try to make the subject line relevant to the message in the body of the email. To serve the reader, I make the subject line short, clear and intriguing so that the reader wants to open my email.

Subject lines are a must. There is a reason Outlook gives us this warning 

Outlook Warning

In my business studies I was told to never send or open an email without a subject line.

Always update your subject line. Sometimes an email is sent and the conversation continues on past the original email and the financial reports that were initially sent for review has turned into a lunch meeting with a client and you are asked to make a reservation.

It’s OK to keep the same email thread going but update the subject line. This will save you a bunch of time when you or others attending the lunch meeting are looking for the date, time and location. Who would think to search their emails for Financial Reports to see where lunch is being held?

Let’s be honest we all get so many emails and there are some that come in and the subject line grabs our attention. What are those subject lines? Well Lunch Meeting or Canceled often gets my attention. Sometimes using CAPS – PLEASE REPLY.

Or, try something funny! For example, our company was looking to plan a soup fundraiser. When it was unfortunately canceled, I emailed our team with a subject line: No soup for you! This was sent internally and I knew the readers well, so I wasn’t worried they would misinterpret. Everyone read that email and commented on the subject line.

In summary here are my suggestions to writing a good subject line.
  1. Know and understand who you are emailing.

  2. Clearly describe what the email is about.

  3. Keep it short – 5-10 words.

  4. Update the subject line as the email conversation continues.

  5. Use caps only when necessary, not all the time and not the whole subject line.

  6. Use humour but appropriately. 

*** Editor’s Note - Since preparing this blog for posting I have personally changed the subject line on at least three email threads that had moved beyond the original content.