Three Tips to Make People Reply Back to Your Email

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to have colleagues and friends get back to me through email when I really need them to. Most individuals get a ton of email every day, so to stand out from the crowd you need to think marketing. Here are 3 quick tips you can apply to your subject lines:

  • Write their name: People are primed to recognize their name when they skim over it in a bunch of junk, so start out the subject of the email with their first name. Using their nickname earns you higher points.
  • Summarize the email’s topic: Don’t just type a generic summary (“CV Attached”). If your objective is to get an answer, then ask a question (“Think this attached CV is a good candidate?”).
  • Write down a deadline: This creates a sense of urgency, and people hate to miss deadlines (even if they’re fake 😉 ).

Here are a couple of good/bad subject line examples:

Bad Example: Financial Update PowerPoint Deck
Good Example: Dave – need your input on this financial deck by tomorrow @ 6:00pm

Bad Example: Lunch
Good Example: Jen – you available this Thu for lunch? Let me know by COB

 

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to have colleagues and friends get back to me through email when I really need them to. Here are 3 quick tips you can apply to your subject lines to make someone reply back to your messages.

 

  1. Write their name: People are primed to recognize their name when they skim over it in a bunch of junk, so start out the subject of the email with their first name. Using their nickname earns you higher points.
  2. Summarize the email’s topic: Don’t use a generic summary. If you have a question, ask it. If you need a review, mention it.
  3. Write down a deadline: This creates a sense of urgency, and people hate to miss deadlines (even if it’s fake 😉 )

 

Here are a couple of examples:

 

Bad Example: Q4 Financial Update PPT

Good Example: Dave – need your input on this financial deck by tomorrow @ 6:00pm

 

Bad Example: Lunch

Good Example: Jen – you available this Thu for lunch? Let me know by COB.

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15 responses to “Three Tips to Make People Reply Back to Your Email

  1. I will be checking this blog daily.

  2. 😀 I agree with this one as well

  3. there's-no-b-in-aspergers

    I’ve tried the deadline in the header technique with a professor who would lag at replying to my emails.
    /
    But she found I made up a fake deadline when I slipped in actual conversation. 😮

  4. I like that, putting a name and question and a deadline into the subject line. Simple but brilliant!

  5. Pingback: Some thoughts on online etiquette « The Pretty Serpent

  6. I also suggest writing ‘I look forward to your response’ at the end of the email is a useful signifier.

  7. wow.. who knew it could be that easy. it makes sense, and i will def be using those tips from now on!

  8. I also suggest putting the boss’s name, or the person’s boss (especially if you two are of the same levels) in the CC field as it would add a sense of urgency and the person would also take ownership of whatever task is being assigned to him in email. -winks-

    • Ugh, no. When I see that someone has CCd my boss to an email directed to me, which doesn’t affect my boss, it makes me think ‘what makes this person think that I am incapable of doing my job that they have to email my Manager? Do they think I can’t reply or action an email?’. It is the height of rudeness.

  9. what if you DON’T want to have replies to an e-mail? for instance, how do your subordinates manage to get the couch manager off their back?

  10. good idea. but won’t be that effective with webmail clients since they don’t show such long subject lines. they’ll still read it when opening the mail but seeing it right away and opening it with this emotion of ah-will-respond-right-away seems even better.

    any suggestions?

  11. These are great tips to get people to respond to emails faster. I read this post last week and even my friends get back to me faster now.

  12. Pingback: Carousel [Week 6, Year 2011] | Tamara Chetcuti

  13. How about putting in a post script: PS. RSVP! I would just like to have a “read it” note to be sure I have reached you. It is a practice I recently started with all my received mails!

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