The Main Reason No One Answers Your Emails

One of the top complaints I hear is, “Why is no one responding to my emails?  Is it me or is it them?” The answer–It’s them. They hate your emails.  Here’s why:

You have terrible subject lines

subject line that is blank

Want your email read? Put some actual thought into the subject line.

I often have 50 unread emails in the morning. The subject line is crucial to make one stand out.  Yet people often will leave it blank,  or  have a re: re: fwd: about some subject that was resolved two months ago.   Recruiters and hiring managers tell me they have HUNDREDS of emails and can never get through them all.  If they don’t recognize your name, the only hope is the subject line.  So how do you create a great one?  Follow the commandments below:

Email Subject Line Commandments

  1. Never leave the subject line blank.   I’ve asked people why they leave it blank (and many do) and their answer is they couldn’t think of anything to say.  If you can’t be bothered to think of something then the email can’t be that important.  So don’t send it.
  2. Use the subject line to write the entire message.   Use it like a text.  The noon meeting is moved to 1:30. Got the FedEx package, thank you.  You got the job, call me. To make it clear that the entire message is in the subject line and the recipient doesn’t have to open it, add EOM (End of Message) at the end.
  3. Only hit reply with the current subject if that is still what the email is about.   If you are not emailing about the TPS Report and writing about something entirely different, like Bob’s surprise birthday party, change the subject line.
  4. If your connection is a mutual friend, get that name in the subject line at the very beginning.  Some email programs truncate the subject line.
  5. DON’T USE ALL CAPS OR EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!! A lot of Nigerian Princes and online pharmacies do this so most likely your email will be marked as spam.
  6. Be uber specific in the subject line. 5 changes TPS client needs done by 5pm is much better than TPS client request
  7. Use a bit of wit, humor, or quirkiness. I have gotten a job, a husband, and free sweatshirts by initially sending an email with a fun subject line.

Follow these tips and you will save yourself and the people previously avoiding your emails hours of time.  Companies with successful newsletters put a huge amount of resources in figuring out the most effective subject lines because good ones can dramatically increase the open rate.

Think you can’t say much in a few words? Hemingway wrote an entire novel in six:   For sale. Baby shoes. Never used.  For inspiration, check out more Six Word Memoirs.  And for more specifics on subject lines, Copyblogger has great suggestions.

Mojo Moves

  • Before sending any email, think about the subject line
  • Notice which subject lines in your email box stand out
  • Keep the body of your email short; if possible put the entire message in the subject line
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Did you enjoy this post?
  • Sally Martin

    Fantastic advice! If only everyone (including myself) would now just follow it.

  • Sue Treiman

    This should be required reading for all my internal communications clients, who use endless FW’s in the subject line. It’s the most effective buzz-killer around. Great article!

  • kayetee

    Just starting my email campaign, and this is really helpful information. Thanks much!

  • Judy

    This information is helpful and to the point. More importantly, it is strongly needed advice for almost all email users.

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