How To Get Your Emails Read

Last night I did my annual "fireside chat" with the InSITE Fellows followed by beers at a local bar. This has become a tradition and one that I enjoy very much. We ended up at Amity Hall where we drank beer, hung out, watched the Knicks do a late game fade against Orlando, and talked a bit of shop. Nishta asked me how to get to her email read. We had some fun with that and turned it into an experiment (yes, she automatically got into my priority inbox) and then a test. I'll let her tell the story:

I men­tioned some­thing and he said, “send me an email”. I instan­ta­neously and quite uncon­sciously replied, “oh come on, you don’t check your emails.” And he said, “I do”. After 2 mins of back and forth, he took out his [Android] and showed me his inbox — sorry, his pri­or­ity inbox. He said, “see that email, now thats a nice sub­ject, I will check it.” “But what if my email gets stuck in your reg­u­lar inbox?” was my imme­di­ate ques­tion? “Then, noth­ing can hap­pen. So you need to at least make it to my pri­or­ity inbox, can you?” “I will find a sub­ject inter­est­ing enough for you then” He smiled and said, “lets try”. I did and both of my emails even­tu­ally showed in his pri­oir­ity inbox few mins later!

She's right. First you need to get into my priority inbox. I am not entirely sure how you do that but Nishta and I have never exchanged emails before and she got into it on the first try.

But second and way more important, you need to get me to open your email. Subject line matters! Use a name I am familiar with in your subject line. Or something else that will get my attention. Here are six subject lines from yesterday, along wtih comments.

"Had lunch with Alexander Ljung" – that works. Alex is the founder of our portfolio company Soundcloud

"Two things" – that doesn't work. Two things is worse than one thing. And not descriptive.

"Pleasure speaking with you" – that doesn't work. I speak to so many people ever day. Not descriptive.

"Twitter board date change" – that double works. Portfolio company name plus very descriptive.

"I know you are a busy man" – that doesn't work. Not descriptive.

"ECB violation" – sadly that works. but please don't send me emails with that subject line.

The point is this. I scan all my mail many times a day and open and reply to all of it that I can. Senders matter. Subjects matter.

And there is mail that gets opened that doesn't get replied to. If the message is super long or the ask is not obvious, I will just sigh and move on. So be brief and specific with the message and the ask.

I like to reply to your emails. But I get so many of them. Make your emails distinctive and easy for me to reply to. Let's start a conversation and a relationship. Like I did with Nishta last night. She's getting her emails replied to now.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    Nice. Don’t these meetings usually have video? Will it be online?(I’ve looked around the InSITE site and couldn’t find them.)

    1. fredwilson

      the video’d the talk but not the beers at the bar

      1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

        I imagine. Do you know if/when they’ll be online?

        1. fredwilson

          no idea

          1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

            ok, thanks. will keep my eyes peeled then.

        2. mikedibenedetto

          We will get around to posting a few videos in the next few days! Thanks for the interest!

    2. paramendra

      First question that popped up in my mind.

  2. Julien

    Coupling with yesterday’s discussion, as some of you readers pointed ; wouldn’t the notifications be another inbox? My feeling is that we get too many emails [yeah that’s obvious], but too many emails that are not emails. Your twitter date board change shouldn’t be an email. It should be an alert in your calendar app and tell you “yup, it’s fine, you’re available there too”. Many emails that you get with pitches would probably be better off in another form : blog post? link to a demo? By adding more inboxes, we can probably sort thru them in much better fashion. For example, it’s interesting to see how Twitter (which is another inbox!) became very popular while we were already complaining about the mess that our email inboxes were.Also, I will get about 78 emails from replies to thri thread. It’s at least sub-optimal. These emails shouldn’t be emails, but definetely popups in my browser, even if I’m not in that page.

    1. fredwilson

      yes. but in my case, i don’t manage my calendar. dorsey does. so we needemail for that use case.

      1. Julien

        One thinking about it, inboxes are like the “jar full of rocks”. Maybe we cannot fit more emails (rocks) in our email inbox, but we can certainly fit alerts (sand) in our alerts inbox, and maybe we can add more notifications (water) in our notifications inbox… etc.

        1. Tereza

          i like that analogy

  3. bijan

    Looks liked you enjoyed my “ben is the man” email this morning 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      sender – checkname in subject line i recognized – checkbrief – checkactionable – checka total winner!

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Sounds like a good formula all around. Going to use this! But not on you.

  4. RichardF

    how about “I’ve got this great idea that nobody else has thought of but I need you to sign an NDA” in the subject line?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      “I’ve got this great idea that nobody else has thought of and there are NO competitors but I need you to sign an NDA”FTFY

      1. RichardF

        lol…and I need a marketing budget of a couple of million US

        1. Matt A. Myers

          …and it’s amazing — there’s no customer service needed AT ALL!!

    2. fredwilson

      email fail, i don’t sign NDAs

  5. Jan Schultink

    We should just limit emails to 140 characters in the subject line

  6. Mwiya

    Haha are you proposing we lie to get you to read our emails to you ;-)Subject: “ECB violation”Body: Well actually there’s this startup I’m working on and I thought using ECB violation would be a great way to get your attention. Any ways it…etc 😀

    1. falicon

      This would just get an open…then a quick ignore…or worse, a specific action to remember (and ignore) you for all future communication…*not* a good way to start a relationship (especially with someone that you are looking for help/attention with).

    2. fredwilson

      it happened yesterday. i replied. probably shouldn’t have

  7. Mwiya

    Are you proposing we lie to get you to read our emails 😉

  8. Jevon

    You should find out how Bieber handles all of his fan mail.

  9. David Semeria

    I’m trying hard to resist the urge to send you a spurious email just to see if it would make it into the priority inbox.I expect many others will show less restraint…Game mechanics are a win, but perhaps this isn’t the best way to deal with email overload 🙂

    1. Mark Essel

      You and Andy made identical comments, but with completely different content 🙂

  10. bfeld

    I fucking love this post. As someone who reads/replies to all my emails every day, I can’t tell you how many times I open an email that is four paragraphs long from someone I’ve never met that has a Subject that says nothing.I keep thinking that I’m going to change my approach to email so that I simply ignore that sort of stuff, but so far I feel compelled to at least send a short response which means I have to try to parse the four paragraphs.If all my Subject lines were instructive, I’d at least be able to get my mind around what the message was about.Summary: Use the Subject line!

    1. Nick Grossman

      Curious: do you read/reply casually all day long, or do it in big batches, a la 4-hour work week? Impressed that you can read AND reply to everything on a daily basis.

      1. JESS K

        I too read/reply to every email, well not EVERY, in my business we get a lot of ‘solicitation’ emails, and they get read, but many go in the proverbial round file and marked as spam whenever possible. Most do not adhere to the Government regulation to have a unsubscribe link!

    2. paramendra

      “….someone who reads/replies to all my emails every day….”Wow, Brad, I am so impressed. You have replied to every of my emails, but you have never replied any comments I have left at your blog. Curious mix.

      1. fredwilson

        i can’t figure out how he does it.

  11. reece

    Everyone should go read the chapter “Don’t suck at email” in Do More Faster.It is hands down one of the most overlooked, yet very important lessons that people… everyone… should learn.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I will get the book for this chapter alone. It’s been in my Amazon queue for a while anyway, so time to push the button.

    2. Mark Essel

      Blog the essentials plus your spin, would make for a great post.

      1. reece

        i’ll add it to my draft list!

  12. Tereza

    Nice post. Practical.Funny works. So does intrigue! Unexpected mashups of seemingly unrelated things that piques the recipient’s curiosity. A “hmmm…wtf could that be?” Like the wrapper of a gift!I do have to say I’m wrestling with email deliverability far more than I anticipated (with HN). Crazy! Learning a LOT.

  13. andyswan

    “The royal family of Libya is interested in buying USV and Gotham Gal’s stake in Twitter”

    1. baba12

      I don’t think the Colonel would call himself a Royal. He was our ( Europeans and Americans) man in Libya till now. For the right price I am sure USV would be willing to do business, though not under these current circumstances.I find that many folks suddenly are in a quandary for having had business relationships with the Mubarak’s of the world, I doubt USV or Mr.Wilson has done any business with Mubarak’s of the world in terms of who the investors are in their funds. But as they say it is possible to find six degrees of separation.

      1. mstearne

        Awesome sense of humor. 🙂

    2. fredwilson

      the better subject line today was from my friend marty”natalie portman wants to meet with you and talk about shapeways”

      1. andyswan

        LOL that is great. We’re all saving the best for real-life. “pappy” “burger” “shake” etc

      2. paramendra

        Mubarak was sobbing. He was overheard asking as to why YOU did this to him!

      3. Matt A. Myers

        If you’re too busy I’d be happy to step in on behalf of you for that meeting. It would be a huge burden on me … but for you Fred, I’d do it.

    3. andyidsinga

      it is quite awesome to get emails from various royal families and the president 🙂

  14. Harry DeMott

    Forget e-mail – just post comments here on AVC – as long as you get in early in the day – you seem to always read those and comment back if there is something to say.It is like a hedge fund manager I used to work for. Before you ever went in to pitch anything – you had to understand where he was in his work flow for the day (which rarely varied) and what sort of mood he was in – then you went in.I figure after reading this stuff for a while and or catching the Twitter stream – people who really want to get in front of you should have a pretty good idea what your work flow looks like – and should be able to get some attention based on that.

    1. baba12

      But for Mr.Wilson to reply out here even I think requires either to have a comment that piques his interest in some way, and I am not sure there is a formula for that, in some sense in this post Mr.Wilson is trying to state that to get into the priority inbox there are some certain ways to go about and get him to read and possibly respond. If people spend their time and energy in trying to get a way to be heard by the Mr.Wilson’s then they are making a big mistake.It is easier to focus on your product/service and let the Mr.Wilson’s of the world find out and want to talk to you. I think in all the cacophony and the signal to noise ratio pretty high, better to let your product/service be the filter to make the Mr.Wilson’s of the world take notice assuming the reason to communicate with Mr.Wilson is primarily to seek USV’s blessings etc. If it is just to hang and have a beer, Id just ask Mr.Wilson if he is available to have one.

      1. RichardF

        or hack his foursquare account

        1. fredwilson


    2. Tereza

      totally agree.Public posting is a great filter.Organizes my thoughts. (most of the time.. HA!)

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Just make sure to…- Not spam your business or links- NOT WRITE IN FULL CAPSLOCK… if you want to gain friend’s attention in a respectful way. 😉

      1. leigh

        I don’t think there is any reason to hurt the FAKE GRIMLOCK’S feelings here.

    4. fredwilson

      you are a perceptive man Harry

    5. Mark Essel

      Right on Harry, know your audience.

  15. Fred T

    how about, “good meeting you at the sf crunchies awards,” would that more descriptive line work?

    1. paramendra

      Nope. I don’t think so. But I am not Fred. Just guessing.

    2. fredwilson

      no because i did not go to the crunchies and i hate awards and lists. they are ego driven shit that i would like to see removed from planet earth

      1. Fred T

        totally agree. wasn’t there either (theoretical question); but will sincerely take it as a grain of salt 🙂

  16. jeffyablon

    I love this post, too.It reminds me of something the PR agent Steve Rubel said last summer (… )You have literally seconds to get someone’s attention. I used to be shocked when we sent an opt-in newsletter to “our peeps” and despite the opt-in status got open rates in the low 20% range—until I started interviewing others who wished they were getting 15%.Yikes.Thanks, Fred.Jeff YablonPresident & CEOAnswer Guy and Virtual VIP Computer Support, Business Change Coaching and SEO Consulting/Search Engine Optimization Services

  17. Carl Rahn Griffith

    How times change – I recall an old senior colleague (at the time) of mine once saying:”There’s no such thing as an urgent email – if it was urgent, you’d call me…”This was in response to a colleague who had emailed him a question (one he thought urgent) for it only to be ignored over a period of days…Imagine if Fred had to contend with all these unsolicited approaches via vox? Yikes.progress of sorts, I guess…

    1. fredwilson


  18. OMA

    Using google to filter out your deals is loosing your edge over the competition, I got Google too you know.You probably not going to enjoy all the false advertising you are going to get soon.Priority inbox is good if you use it to respond faster to priority emails. If you use google to filter out your deals/information/decisions – you are losing your edge over the competition.What I need is an automatic summary like this you have 8 priority emails that require immediate response approve/decline/details 3 non conflicting meetings with John (3/3 1PM) Paul (3/3 2PM) Ringo (3/3 5PM) – Print board decisions from XXX due 4/5 Decline/accept/details TV interview on XXX- See urgent email from XXX See to other uncategorized emails from John and Bob You have 150 emails that fit the “startups request money – first email” pattern See 15 emails introduced by people in your top contact list politely decline 50 emails about twitter for dummies, twitter for smartasses, …., … Reply with a polite maybe later (email template #5) to 65 twitter clones metoo companies See 10 emails regarding space flight and mind reading startups See 10 uncatagorised emails about ……You have 5 emails requesting donations Decline politely/choose one and donate $500/detailsYou have 100 emails not directed at you (cc) See email from XXX (10 replies from X, Y,Z) See email from YYY mark all cc emails as readThe goal should be to be able to respond to everything, quickly and efficiently.Google knows how people respond to the same emails, this may be statistical.There should be custom templates, (I have a polite, we’re not looking for software engineers template)I used to have a (human) PA who was able to do that for me. I think google can too.Prioritize, summarize, suggest a few possible responses, ask me to OK, execute.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t use google to filter my opportunities. i go out and make my opportunities. VCs who operate in receive mode are bad VCs. i try to read and reply to my email to be nice and open and accessible. but email is not where good deals come from

  19. Darren Herman

    You are dead on. One of the most under utilized assets. It’s why some periodicals hire headline writers.

    1. gbattle

      Talk to Nick Denton about how journalistic incentives at Gawker changed headlines and increased new uniques.

  20. Matt A. Myers

    Subject: “Hey Fred, looking at you through your office window – nice shoes!”

    1. awaldstein

      Someone saw ‘The Bourne Identity”.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        (True)Or I’m a creeper at heart and like Fred’s shoes! Half of that statement is true. 😉

      2. Matt A. Myers

        Dammit.. now I need to watch it tonight.

      3. paramendra

        My favorite action movies: the three Bourne movies.

  21. Jorge Guzman

    I’ve heard starting with “Congratulations” and something that’s meaningful usually gets it opened because most people like to be praised.

    1. John Rorick

      “Congratulations” makes me assume I just won an ipad but first need to send money to a Nigerian Royal currently in exile.

      1. Jorge Guzman

        That’s if you don’t do it well. But if I said, “John, Congratulations [or thank you] for all your success getting talented engineers hired in NY”. Would you open it?

        1. John Rorick

          Not likely…but that is a symptom of me being a jaded corporate recruitment professional. I would presume the body of the email would simply be a career fair/agency vendor/social media recruiting guru and/or “we can outsource your entire function” come-on. But again, I am jaded ;).

  22. daryn

    Tip: Since Fred is often on his Android, make sure the first 25 characters of your subject get the point across (that’s where the ellipses kick in)

    1. fredwilson

      great hint

  23. John Rorick

    “A girl named Nishta told me to email you” Wonder how many of those are in your priority inbox by this afternoon…

    1. fredwilson

      none that i can see. a ton of restraint was exhibited yesterday

  24. mattb2518

    This is the same advice our Response Consulting group gives to clients all the time. Turns out that subject lines are important no matter what kind of email you’re sending!

    1. fredwilson

      for sure!

  25. kenberger

    Even some very smart and successful tech-savvy people violate this all the time. The SUBJECT line IS A SALES OPPORTUNITY– you’re selling whether the recipient opens the email AND reacts to it. The reaction could be an actual action taken, or simply the formation of a passive feeling that the recipient is left with.A few super-common examples of bad subj lines:”Need a favor” – wtf?! You certainly don’t deserve one if you present it like that.”Please help” – see “need a favor”. Btw, ‘please’ and ‘nice’ are reductive in the subj line if you’ve done your job right.”Intros” – not terrible, but you must assume I get and give a lot of intros. Include the 2 parties in the subj line. Better yet, also provide a 1- or 2-word context. “Ken meet Joe Blow, re Ruby development needs”.And the worst of all: no subject line. Do this, and I’m going to expect that you’re a girlfriend who’s pissed off at me.

    1. fredwilson

      such great advice. all of those are DOA with me

  26. ryan singer

    Sorry Fred. Haha.. I feel this email was directed (maybe indirectly) at me. Yesterday was crazy and I barely had time to write or think to organize my thoughts… but the subject line probably made sense. On that subject (pun intended) I typically don’t like to write one because more than not they are contrived… yesterday I felt I needed to write a subject line because I tweeted that I had an idea for your notification post. my subject had both twitter and idea referenced because I thought it would trigger a memory of the situation. Mainly because you had DM’d me back telling me to email you back. Thanks and I hope my email wasn’t completely incoherent.I wish you all the best in your endeavor to enhance Android notifications.(Besides subjects, I also hate contrived closings, but that one came from the heart)

    1. fredwilson

      this had nothing to do with your email. i promise you that. it was totally driven by the encounter with nistha

    2. Tereza

      It wasn’t you.He didn’t actually open that one.;-) jk

  27. laude05

    A big part of our economic crisis is far too many people skimming information and making the time to actually read and understand. That includes who you talk to and correspond with. Pretending that the subject line can give you enough information to decide if you should read the email is like thinking that one twitter post gives you all you need to understand what is happening in Libya!

    1. fredwilson

      critique it all you want. i’m not defending it. i’m just telling everyone how it is.

    2. Alex Murphy

      There is a big difference between understanding finance, and assuming that Real Estate will go up forever, and cutting poor credit facilities into new products that purposely confuse buyers of said bad credit AND skimming email where there isn’t enough time in the day to possibly read every word. Fred uses email subject lines as a “signal” to determine whether or not to open the mail, and the content and brevity of the content as a signal to determine if this new contact is someone that knows what he/she wants. If the signals lead to a yes, then it is worth digging in a little more, that doesn’t mean he is investing, just getting started.

  28. Donna Brewington White

    I will now only send emails without a subject line to someone that I know will open my email anyway. And only if I don’t need a response right away.I’ve found that the word “Question” is a good subject line.And with someone like Fred for whom brevity is king (well brevity with meaningful content) I wonder if the subject line should actually be part of the first sentence. If the first sentence isn’t interesting to begin with then that’s a problem.Fred is a master at brevity. I watch and learn. And believe it or not, I’m MUCH better than I used to be. And I’m getting more responses to my emails.

    1. awaldstein

      My world must be smaller than yours Donna.For most services, from attorneys to speciality shops like an SEO vendor or to a gallery, I very infrequently find myself without some referral. I ‘go in cold’ but not often.For other folks, most have an online presence where I can insert myself into their mindset by starting the conversation online.But then again, I’m not a recruiter 😉

      1. Donna Brewington White

        “My world must be smaller than yours Donna.”I seriously doubt that, Arnold.Interestingly, I wasn’t thinking about emails for recruiting or direct business development — or in conjunction with marketing and selling — when commenting above.That’s a different story.And I’ve already written my long comment for the day on Suster’s blog.

        1. awaldstein

          Got it Donna.My rule of thumb is that if the recipient hasn’t opted in, hasn’t been referred and doesn’t know who you are, question email as the right path.Sometimes it is but a cold trail is hard to follow.

    2. fredwilson

      i would not open an email from someone i don’t know with the word question in it

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I probably wouldn’t either.If I or someone from AVC sent an email with the word “Question” in the subject would you open it?While I wasn’t thinking of you in particular, I was thinking more along those lines.

    3. Tereza

      Sometimes I put the actual question in the Subject, if it’s short enough.Although….’coffee?’ is turning into a tough question. Just not enough hours in the day.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        If you sent me an email with “Coffee?” in the subject line, I would open immediately!If I send an email to a particular recruitment prospect, I will often use a question in the subject line. But in that case, I’m going to follow up with a phone call anyway if I haven’t already left a voice mail.

  29. karen_e

    Summarize! Sometimes it’s helpful when you need to cut through a complex issue (“short it to the ground” in the words of the famous Raytheon book about management) to think of your subject line as a summary of the email content, not an introduction. Write your subject line last, not first.

    1. fredwilson

      ooh, i like that last bit a lot

  30. Christopher Bellacose

    How about be creative? If you have a useful idea, product, service or company you will figure it out. If you cant get the attention of a VC, how are you going to get the attention of a prospect and eventually sell them on your service/product?Chris

  31. Surreabral

    I think effective Subject lines would be a huge boost to global productivity. I used to enforce a template for my teams – Category (Info, Act, Sched) + Relevant topic (Customer, Project, Product) + 5 words as content headline + Relevant date if action or schedule. Not only did it help the recipient but it also helped the sender stay focused and tight.

  32. Tim Conneally

    I love this post because it’s almost about Language Code and the difference between Elaborated and Restricted codes.For example, you appear to be more likely to answer an email when the sender uses Restricted code (which assumes you, the recipient, will know what they’re talking about when dropping client/colleague names or similar.)Whereas if they are using Elaborated code, where they have to sum up contents in a general fashion anyone could understand, you’re more likely to avoid it.Extremely interesting.

  33. Donna Brewington White

    Now a post on how to get you to respond on Twitter.

    1. William Mougayar

      Or, on Fred’s criteria for who/how he follows on Twitter.

    2. fredwilson

      totally random, i don’t do it much, but saying something about me that i take offense to is probably the best way

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Won’t try that one. At least not intentionally.

  34. NICCAI

    What about an appeal to your stomach. “Better than Shake Shack.” I’m sure I could get Howard to read an email if I mentioned “falafel.” 😀

    1. fredwilson

      only works if i am hungry

  35. Chris Phenner

    I have been curating job-related emails to hundreds of folks in digital media for years, and I think hard about email formatting. I had lunch today with a friend who’s at Groupon, and we spent 15 minutes debating the merits of why emails are not plain-text only — I love email.The accidental innovation I discovered is to format every subject line in such a way that the reader *does not have to open* the email to decide whether to read it — I think this keeps my unsub rate super-low — I format every subject line like this:[Title] – [Company] – [City]And should the above subject line earn an ‘open’ by a member, I then bullet the job’s specs via bullets that do not wrap text if read via any mobile device. The goal is to give a snapshot of the opportunity within two seconds post-open. And then the prose follows.And why the above approach isn’t used in most email communication is worth considering — treat email as if you’re writing a more human XML specification — one element at a time.BTW: If you seek work in digital media, see what I say above in action here:http://typejack.comAnd I welcome USV or other readers to send their open roles to [email protected].

    1. ShanaC

      Thanks for the advice

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Hmmm… Really interesting.

  36. William Mougayar

    Curious if you had an increased # of unsolicited emails today and if you read/responded more than yesterday, based on the hints from this post.

    1. fredwilson

      not that i could detect. i get a lot of email.

  37. William Mougayar

    One more question. Are there any particular times of the day that are better/worse or is it a neutral factor?

    1. fredwilson

      5am to 7am eastern is when i am in receive modeafter that, all bets are off

      1. adamwexler

        sounds like you might be getting some drunk email from the valley…

  38. leigh

    Ah…back in the good old days anyone would answer email. I remember the first email i sent to someone i didn’t know was Gary Hamel about some research i was doing that was related to an article he had written.He set such a bad precedent for me because he sent me a long very smart email back. That made me think that anyone would email me back. Alas those days are gone. Social technologies while have enabled many things have practically killed the random email to someone you don’t know.

    1. Tereza

      Great story! That would never happen today!

  39. ShanaC

    you know, this is an excellent post about what all web copy should be like. It should directly address the audience at hand.

    1. Mark Essel

      Email has a targeted list, web copy is an open invitation.Agreed that audience counts, but when your audience isn’t well developed you have to imagine who they are and write to them. I write to satisfy my own needs. Sometimes that overlaps well with lots of other folks, and sometimes it’s pretty much just for me.

  40. Sara Chipps

    ” Two things is worse than one thing.”Hilarious.

    1. fredwilson

      you saw it in action sarai struggled with “girlsdevelopIT needs books”but i was happy to comply with “i need 20 books for my class that is starting next week”the more actionable and the smaller the ask the more likely i can and will do it

      1. Sara Chipps

        That is great to know, another one of those will make its way to your inbox shortly. :)I find myself doing the same as often I just interpret legitimate emails as spam when they say things like “Hey Sara” or “Wanted to say hi”



    1. Alex Murphy

      Fred – Do all caps work well for you when scanning?

  42. Nick Rivadeneira

    I was able to get in with this subject:[email from] – Mechanical Engineers and the startup worldI kept it to 4 sentences and you replied! I wasn’t really expecting a reply, but when I got it I was pleasantly surprised. It might help that I was referencing something you had mentioned about your past in a blog post.

    1. fredwilson

      i really try to open al [email from] emailsbrief email body is really really goodthanks

  43. Jan Schultink

    I don’t know why email clients don’t use avatars

    1. fredwilson

      ooh, amazing idea. never thought about it. hey gmail team, are you listening????

      1. Prashant Sachdev

        Facebook is doing that with email service that they are enabling within messaging. I am sure social graph or information from social networks (twitter, linkedin, facebook, etc) will be helpful to have with gmail and various other email services.Surprisingly, on android mobile Google have provided avatars (from Google profile / gtalk) to SMS app but no support for the same in Gmail app!

      2. Tom Krieglstein

        Have you ever used rapportive for gmail? Here’s what it looks like (… ) and it sits nicely in my gmail account. I use it ALL the time to see the latest tweets from people.

        1. Jan Schultink

          Yes useful, but I hope gmail will implement (small) avatars in the inbox view to make it easier to navigate.

    2. adamwexler

      awesome idea, jan. visuals could often do the trick.

    3. Phil @insurancecoveragedotme

      Great idea, perhaps the size of the avatar could be larger if it is marked as highly important.

  44. Mgav

    NNTOOR Idea: put entire note in subject line (where possible)What is “NNTOOR” ???It’s an acronym meaning “No Need To Open Or Respond” as a courtesy for the email recipient.In other words:1. The email’s subject line contains all of the info the email message seeks to convey2. There’s no need for you to open it3. There’s no need for you to respond to the email (unless you want to)*allows users to zip through many emails just skimming subject lines*Learn more:

  45. Ivan Vecchiato

    I wish I knew that when I tried to send you a business plan. How much you can learn reading AVC.

  46. Chris Fralic

    Agree – in a related post I did on The Art of the Introduction, the number one tip is “Subject Matters” –

  47. Michael Kogan

    I so agree, getting 100 emails an hour definitely calls for some selective action, and what’s better than a good subject line:)!

  48. BlueTrain Mobile

    This is a great post! Thanks for the tips.

  49. Dave D

    My company has a distinctive name. I’ll use it as the entire subject line in cold emails. Do I get responses? Rarely. But I’m convinced from experience that it increases the pick-up rate days later when I cold call the same people and that name shows up on their caller ID.

  50. Anne Maxfield

    Thank you for that, most people don’t take full advantage of the subject line. The article made me go back and send a much stronger request to someone for a meeting.

  51. David J Dunworth

    Ever consider video emails? A short, 30-60 video email gets the point across personally. Easy to create, with more than 450 templated, full color wrappers, they make a terrific impact.I can be found on Linked In. I would be happy to send info,David J Dunworth

  52. Carlos

    It is startling how many VCs whine about not doing what their mothers taught them to be common courtesy. How can VCs solicit deal flow and then whine about too many emails? How can VCs write with such arrogance about the difficulties of getting to them? Gosh, there are many more powerful/rich/busy professionals than VCs who whine less about the necessary details of their professional lives. Fred, I know that you are a lot better than most, so how about a simple “thank you” response to all emails in your inbox that are more than 4 hours old? I’ll write the macro for you!P.S. I hope that we are in a “bubble” … if for no other reason than to bring VCs back down to Earth!

    1. fredwilson

      carlosi appreciate the candor and that you feel this is an arrogant whiny posthowever, i cannot reply to every email i get. i receive more per hour than icould simply say “thank you” toit is an impossible situationi was trying to give entrepreneurs good advice on how to get throughi am sorry it offended you

  53. Sarah Liebel

    I have to say if you can get through your emails as fast as you read, internalize and respond to all of these posts you are in good shape! Over 25 responses from you in around 30 minutes. That’s skill!

  54. elephantidae

    Thanks for providing feedback on the examples. Helps a lot whether we are trying to get you to read our e-mail or someone else that is very busy.

  55. Phanio

    Nice post -clear and to the point is what you are asking for. But, if you can’t get into your priority in the first place, nothing else matters. Question: what does it take to get into yours or anyone’s priority inbox?

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t know

  56. Alexdagreat

    There is cruise ship sinking in east river

  57. JESS K

    From your mouth to God’s ears! I get email from purportedly professional sales people and it is a challenge to get them to understand that their 140 character subject line makes or breaks their message. Especially if one is on a SmartPhone like a BlackBerry, it is KEY to communicate your message as succinctly as possible to keep from it being erased! It just drives me insane to get a email with no subject line, and/or a poorly composed subject line. I often send it back to them with my “critique” and send them a appropriate subject line. Needless to say some do not appreciate my response! But if I can get one to convert to good subject lines, I feel I have helped the world. Some I HATE is “Tomorrow” blah blah blah like I am going to stop everything to read their email! I ask them to say Day/Date/Time not Tomorrow grrrrrrrr And these are supposed to be literate learned professionals!

  58. Mark Hewitt

    Good perspective email is a critical method of staying in touch and updating – many of us are easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information and need a little extra nudge in the subject line to respond or even notice a message.I’ve personally gone the extra step and now filter my incoming messages using the Domain Key Header Authentication – “DKIM” for those of you that don’t already know about it. All of my email servers and domains have a DNS entry for DKIM I have found it to be very effective in managing many of those false headers that clog our spam systems.

  59. andyidsinga

    amity hall has only one oregon brew in a bottle ( rogue dead guy ) and none on tap – FAILinafriendlywaytheystillseemprettycool

  60. Rick

    Looks like we all need to tighten things up.

  61. Stfu

    nobody gives a shit. Get a life.

    1. fredwilson

      you should get a life too. why are you commenting on a blog post you don’tgive a shit about?

  62. Mark Essel

    it’s like Google publishing their spam detection algorithm 🙂