How to Write Emails That Get Response

I hear this complaint a lot: “People don't respond to emails anymore. It's like they don't read them, or don't have enough courtesy to write back.” Usually the person doing the complaining will then expand on how Western society is crumbling around our ears.

businessman and businesswoman using computer at airport

Rather than spend our time complaining about how inconsiderate people have become, I suggest learning how to write emails that demand a response.

How to Write Emails That Get Response

There are really two challenges here: first, to make sure people read your emails. Second, to make sure they answer your email while the message is still fresh. Here are five keys to doing both:

  1. Make your subject line attention-getting. The subject line of your email should be riveting, like a newspaper headline. The subject line's job is to get the recipient to read the actual email. One way to do this is simply make your request in the subject line itself: “Can you come to dinner with me Thursday night at 7 PM?” Or, for example, “Do you have a copy of Michael's PowerPoint slides?”
  2. Clearly ask for what you want. Don't write a vague, rambling narrative, and then expect the recipient to figure out what you want. Get right to the point, and make your request clear: ask them to “deliver the report before 5 PM”… or to “bring the extra projector to the meeting room”… whatever it is you need, clearly make the request in the email itself.
  3. Let them know if you even require a response. If you need a response to your email, say so, and make it clear what the response should be. If you don't need a response, you can simply in the email with, “no response required.”
  4. Keep your email short. Nobody is excited to see a novella show up in their inbox. Keep your email shorter than a page. Most email communications can be conveyed in five sentences or less. In fact, you might want to give this service a try.
  5. Only one subject per email. You'll get a quicker response to your email messages if you only address one subject in each email. This makes it much easier for the recipient to get you the information or answers  you need. Your response won't be held up by the recipient, as she tries to find an answer to just one of the seven questions you asked.

Now it's your turn. What techniques do you use to make people respond to your emails? Share below.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at