I received an email recently that had in the From field the equivalent of ‘John S’ and a Subject field with such cryptic and unhelpful content that I almost deleted the email as spam, before a faint stirring at the back of my mind prompted me to decode the Subject field. It turned out to be some proofs I needed to approve, so a pretty important email. If the From field had contained the sender’s full name and/or company name, and the Subject field had been along the lines of ‘Advert proofs for your approval’, all would have dropped into place without narrowly averted mishap.

I groan when emails arrive with a From showing something like Admin, Accounts, Enquiries etc. It’s not helpful. People delete this stuff. We all get three billion emails a day – to stand out we need to know that we want yours. By all means use a generic From, but at least make it MegaCorp Account Team or Acme Widgets Enquiry Response, so we know that it’s something we do actually want. Similarly the Subject field has to contain something meaningful: a ticket number, a product name, an event title or reference to the subject such as Menu for John’s leaving do, Minutes of 23rd April’s Sales Meeting or Advert proofs for your approval. Please do this, and fewer useful emails will be deleted, fewer useless ones will be opened, and we’ll all save a few nanoseconds.

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