How to Make People See, Open and Read Your Emails

Most people get more email messages than they can handle comfortably. This means that before you can convince someone to do what you want you first have to make sure that they see, open and read your emails.

Sleazy clickbait style subjects and other ruses just don't work anymore, or they work just once. To earn and keep a reputation as a sender of useful messages that are worth opening and reading there are a few simple methods you can apply:

WRITE A MEANINGFUL SUBJECT. The message subject is extremely important, working like the headline of an article. People decide to open your message mostly after reading this subject line so you should always write it very carefully. Make sure that it is specific enough so that it doesn’t look like spam and try to state already the main message of your mail. A very vague subject like “Proposal” will sometimes be stopped by a spam filter and humans will not find it appealing.

PUT CONTENT IN THE FIRST TWO LINES Today the first two lines of  the message are very important today because many people like me first see most emails on a mobile phone. Make sure that in those two lines there is something relevant and interesting for the reader, not just a bland formality. Sometimes for a very important mail I send a draft to myself to see how it looks on the iPhone mail screen.

BE CLEAR WHAT YOU WANT In the body of the message always say exactly what you want to happen and get to this point quickly, not at the end. Sometimes I am willing to help someone but I can’t understand exactly what they want from me. Make sure that this is very clear. This, by the way, is the key secret of effective complaining emails. 

KEEP MESSAGES SHORT. Keep the message long enough to be polite but otherwise try to keep it as short as you can. Nobody today has time to read long emails. Write a long message if you want, but then cut away everything that isn’t needed before you send it. When there are many different subjects to discuss it is usually more effective to deal with one at a time, otherwise an email might be archived as “completed” when just one of the issues has been closed.

AVOID ATTACHMENTS. Never attach a file unless it is really needed. I have seen people send a message that simply says to read an attached DOC or PDF file. This is immensely annoying for busy people and is complicated for people who read emails on their mobile phone. Stick to simple plain text emails and only attach a document that is reasonable to attach, like a CV or a photo.

Follow these simple rules and people will see, open and read your emails more often. And when they read them you have a much greater chance that they will do what you wanted, so this is an essential part of any influencing toolbox.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about business email and other communication topics contact the author, Andrew Hennigan. You can reach him by email at, by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or through his website


Popular posts from this blog

Speaking: When Silence Works Better Than Words

Influencing: How Airbnb Organizes the Host Community