Subject Lines That Get Your Email Opened
This month’s Writamin continues last month’s list of the first five tips for writing smarter subject lines.
6. Proofread carefully.The subject line is the first thing your readers see: Don’t mess it up. Spell-check does not work in subject lines, which makes it all the more crucial to check it slowly and carefully yourself. If you stay up until 2:00 a.m. working on an important document and then send the client an email with the subject line, “Please sing the atached document,” the client will doubt the accuracy of all your work. Stop, take a breath, and read every subject line slowly. You do not have room for error.
7. Use logical keywords for search and filtering.Most people file or archive their emails. When they want to determine the history of a matter or transaction, they will start by searching subject lines for relevant key words. If the subject lines relied on stale terms such as “Meeting followup” or “Touching base”, the searcher is lost.
Professional service firms should include the client’s name, the matter in question, and the essential message in the subject line. For example, a law firm could write, “Smith Company Deposition Subpoena for review” instead of “See attached document”. All writers should include enough relevant key words in the subject line to make the email distinct from the other hundreds of emails the reader is receiving.
8. Use fewer than 50 characters (6 to 8 words).Keep your subject line long enough to hook your reader’s attention, but short enough that it does not get cut off on mobile devices.
9. Tell whether you need action or a response.Do you always read to the end of every email? Right. Your reader doesn’t always read to the end, either. If your email contains a request for action or a response, and the request does not appear in the first two lines of the email, the reader might never see the request. Give the reader a heads-up that the message contains a request. He or she will pay closer attention to the whole message.
10. State your deadline.If you have a deadline, let your reader know it. Even if you do not have a fixed deadline but you want to put some urgency into your message, include a deadline in the subject line. For example, you could write, “Please review attached document by Friday.”
The subject line is your best shot at getting the reader to open your email.Use it to answer your reader's inner question, "What's in it for me?" Be concise, correct, and catchy. Your reader will reward you the magical click that says, "I got the message."
To see the first five subject line tips, go to Subject Lines That Get Your Emails Opened, part 1.
Read Writamins on these topics:
Choosing the Right Word
Thoughts on Writing
Writing Within Organizations
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