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Email subjects

Like the heading of an ad or article, the subject of an email is important.

For one thing, if someone needs to find some information you sent them, it is much easier to sort through emails if the subject clearly identifies the email contents. I have been known to send the same person three emails in a row so that each topic is in its own email for easier sorting and answering, rather than one long email covering three topics.

If you are emailing someone new or sending out an enewsletter, your choice of subject can mean the difference between someone reading it or deleting it. Some points to consider in writing your subject are:

  • avoid hype and over-used words as many people can’t be bothered with more of the same
  • be honest. For example, I recently received an email via my website with the subject ‘business cooperation’. The subject interested me so I read it only to find it was purely an ad for their services. Not only is their subject dishonest, it annoyed me so much I would never use their services and added their email address to my junk mail list.
  • relate it to the reader –  and that is easier when you know more about who you are emailing in the first place. As an example, “help with your marketing” has more appeal than “we offer great marketing services” but neither will appeal much to a retiree or a school child!
  • personalise it if you have the technical ability to do so – but be warned that trying to personalise it and getting it wrong is not good. Yes, I have received emails addressed “Special message for {add name}” – the word ‘you’ would have been a better, safer option
  • add an enticement or call to action – sometimes a time frame can help, such as “sale this weekend only”
  • keep it as short and simple as possible – for one thing, some people’s email system doesn’t give much space for the subject so if it takes too long to get to the point, people may miss the point altogether

How often do you put much effort into your email subject? And I’m curious – do you usually write the email or the subject first?

Happy writing!

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