Think about what draws you to a book, news article or webpage. Very often it’s the title or headline that grabs our attention and entices us to read more. Similarly, with business emails if you use a subject line that indicates why you are writing and that engages your reader your email is far more likely to be read sooner and, if required, acted upon. A meaningful subject line helps your reader to identify your topic, prioritise your email and find it quickly again at a later stage. A subject line that engages your reader will make it stand out; the reader will be more likely to read your email sooner and remember what it was about.
Following the tips below should help you use your subject line to maximum effect:
- Never leave the subject line blank
- Make your subject line specific using company or product names if appropriate
- Give particular consideration to the first word in your subject line as this will determine how easy your email is to search for at a later stage
- Help your reader to prioritise your email: only use the word urgent if it really is but “Action required” or “FYI only” can be helpful indicators in the subject line
- If you write regular emails about a similar subject to the same regular contacts try to use a consistent format in your subject line
- If you change the topic of your email but continue with an existing thread then change the subject line accordingly
- Make it concise – it’s ok in your subject line to miss out articles, prepositions, etc.
- Avoid using all capitals as your subject line – it’s important to grab attention but not to shout at your reader!
It is often the little things that can make all the difference when we communicate and the three or four words we choose for our subject line can help our reader to navigate their inbox. You can find a myriad of online resources and reference books to help you appreciate the intricacies of email correspondence or you can attend an email writing course and learn practical tips to improve your email etiquette.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011