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Subject lines: Keep yours searchable and scannable

Email is — by far — the most-used internal communication channel at companies of all sizes, with over 90% of communicators relying on it to share important news.

  • Yes, but: Over 50% of employees admit they don’t keep up with company updates, according to Gallup data. So when they finally need those roadmap, HR, or other details, they’re lost in an overlooked email that no one knows how to find. 

Why it matters: The way you write your subject lines will decide how quickly colleagues read your update and how easy a recurring communication is to resurface. We’ve tested internal and external emails alike to nail down what works. 

Two top qualities emerged:

1. Searchable: For recurring internal comms — like a newsletter or all-staff update — standardize a short phrase to include at the start of each subject line. 

  • Why it works: It grabs reader attention right away, and it starts to create a deep archive of company knowledge you can call on anytime. 

💡 Do you lead a team? This can also streamline new-hire onboarding. Find and forward recent all-staff updates to share progress, context and help employees get up to speed and aligned on business goals.

Example of good subject lines that are searchable

2. Scannable: Just like a strong headline, your subject line should tell readers something specific and valuable. Summarize 2–3 of the biggest items in your update and separate them with a comma or em dash so ideas stand out at a glance.

  • Why it works: You’ll engage different types of readers all at the same time. Maybe some teammates are focused on sales, while others are charged with growth — this keeps them all in mind.

Example of good subject lines that are scannable

Be smart: These audience-first tactics work best for recurring updates, but they apply to the subject lines for all sorts of updates. 

  • A meeting recap could start with the “Project Name:” followed by the 2–3 biggest decisions or takeaways.
  • An urgent, all-staff alert could start with “🚨 Important news:” followed by a short, sharp sentence that helps focus the issue at hand.

The bottom line: If you flub the subject line, nothing else you write will matter, so don’t squander their potential. Use them as another way to save your team time and get them smarter, faster.

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