Will People Read & Respond To Your Email?

Business professionals send and receive 200 billion emails daily. While we email frequently, these messages are often ineffective and inefficient. The following tips will better help your reader understand and take action with your email.

Subject Line

Clear email subject lines contain about 4-7 words telling readers what to expect in the email. For example, an effective email subject line is, “Important: Review & Approve ABC Document”. A less effective email subject line is, “ABC Document” because it does not stress the emails’ importance, nor does it tell the reader to take action.

Email Length

According to BU alumni Nicki Krawczyk (COM ’01), “Avoid sentences that are too long as people want to skim through them. If you feel this way, chances are that your reader will feel this way too”. Sentences should be 10-15 words and no more than 3 sentences in a paragraph. This eliminates confusion and helps the reader better understand the message.

Emails should be between 50-125 words. If over 125 words, stop by in person or pick up the phone. If under 50 words, your message might exclude helpful information or be considered rude. With that said, short emails are acceptable in many instances. For example, “I have reviewed and approved ABC document. Thank you”.

Use Bullets

Bullets are a great way to communicate email messages. It is helpful with reader comprehension. It also helps the writer in terms of composing the email message itself. You could write the following.

Please review the important information below.

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3

Call to Action

Emails often require your reader to respond to deadlines. If so, be clear and state the call to action. Which sentence works better below?

  1. Please respond as soon as possible.
  2. Please review and approve ABC document by Thursday, 7/20/19.
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