The most underused communication tool in business is the email subject line. That's not to say that we don't use subject lines; but it is to say that we don't use them well.
We don't always (ever?) draft a subject line that's going to trigger curiosity, inspire action, and most of all, be clear about what you're asking.
For example, if I'm sending an email to Mary, and I have two questions about a meeting we're having next Tuesday, here are two ways to write the subject:
Better Subject Line: "Mary, please answer 2 quick questions re: Tuesday's agenda"
Include a call to action. Be very specific about what you want the recipient to do. With a clear call to action, they'll be more likely to do it.
Place the most important words toward the beginning of the email. In the example, "answer 2 quick questions" is the call to action for Mary, so that's in a place where it will be seen first, and Mary will know what I need from her.
Keep it under 40 characters if possible. That's about the number of characters that will display on a the screen of a smart phone, and more emails today are being read from smart phones.
Use words to "sell" the person on reading and taking action. In the example above, the word is "quick." If Mary see's that the questions won't require much of her time, she'll be more inclined to do it now, than file it for later.
Include the entire message in the subject line, if possible. People appreciate brevity, and if you can fit the entire message in one place, and prevent that extra click to open and read more email, everyone's better for it.
Manners never hurt - we're all human, and even if it's in an email (or, especially in email) people appreciate being treated with respect.
Our minds move into action mode when we're given specific instructions; we're naturally inclined to take the next step. Conversely, when there are no specific instructions; when there's only a vague clue, our minds tend to move on in search of something with more of a hook. Give your emails a strong hook, by creating a clear, specific and compelling subject line.
How strong are your subject lines?