Email Subject Lines

Writing a subject line to an email is a bit like coming up with a title–it needs to be short, spark interest and tell your readers what to expect. While subject lines don’t need to be as creative or striking, they can be just as daunting to write.

Writing email subject lines is also challenging because you want the recipients to react to your message in some way. They probably get an overwhelming number of emails and select what they open or read. By writing a strong subject line, your email will get noticed faster. Recipients will understand your message more quickly, retrieve the message easily and respond faster.

Here are a few tips to get your email noticed and prompt quick responses:

1. Be specific about the project, topic and timing. Consider how the subject line will look amongst others in your recipient’s inbox. When you specify the project, they will be more likely to open your message quickly.

  • Quick Question! (Not specific)
  • Need your expertise for 2013 Social Media planning (Specific)
  • Comm Survey ASAP (Not Specific)
  • Comm Survey results needed 12/5 (Specific)

2. Help the recipient organize and find your message with a details and dates. We all love emails that are easy to find amidst hundreds of others.

  • Intranet Review (Not easy to file or find)
  • Intranet Survey results–10/15 discussion (Easy to file and find) 

3. Use a calm, organized and positive tone. No one wants to open an email that appears to be a fire needing to be put out. Use upbeat language and specific information and, as a general rule, avoid using excessive explanation points or all-capitals.

  • URGENT: Report needed today!! (Not calm or organized)
  • Q3 Analysis–Your (awesome) report needed for 11/21 Mtg (Calm, organized and positive) 

4. Use vibrant, benefit-orientated language for emails not related to a project or task. Include the specifics, along with a major benefit in the subject line.

  • FREE seminar Tomorrow! (Not specific or benefit-orientated)
  • Networking for Career Growth: Best Practices Webinbar 11/21 (Specific and benefit-orientated)

While you can’t control how quickly you recipients respond to your email, you can craft organized and clear subject lines that stand out.

Recently, a reader asked that I address how to write great email subject lines. If you would like to see any topic, issue or question covered here, please let me know!


4 thoughts on “Email Subject Lines

  1. Pingback: My Approach to Email | better writing in business

  2. Pingback: CAN-SPAM act compliance and email subject lines « Fletcher Prince

  3. Pingback: Ending that Email | better writing in business

  4. Pingback: You know that electro-shocking, beating, and chaining elephants is wrong. « Sunset Daily

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