Your emails have a better chance of being opened and read if you write specific subject lines that catch people’s attention.
Keep your subject line short and specific
Use phrases rather than single words because a one-word subject line is seldom informative enough. On the other hand, long subject lines take too long to read and may not display fully on phones.
The best email subject lines are specific and concrete and give the reader a reason to open your email.
Tax information due Friday 5 May
Include a call to action
If you want someone to do something, such as attend an event or provide information, include that in the subject line. If relevant, include a date.
Book your web training before 9 May for early-bird discount
Change the subject line to reflect the content
Change the subject line as the topic shifts in a series of emails, so people can find them later if they file them.
Use persuasive subject lines
If you’re organising events, your emails still need to be short, but you can draw on some marketing techniques to make them engaging, such as using ‘you’ and talking about benefits.
All the Easter eggs you can eat at 5pm on Thursday
Learn from marketing
Although most of your subject lines will be straightforward and informative, there may be occasions that you will bend the ‘rules’ of normal business emails and have some fun. For instance, one of the most successful emails in Obama’s re-election campaign had the single-word subject line: ‘Hey’.
Some techniques are:
- Numbers: Numbers (and numerals rather than words) stand out in a subject line.
Enrol in our webinar: 6 issues that ruin small business success
- Questions: Questions can make people think differently about a subject.
Were we boring you?
- Negatives: Negatives can grab attention.
Not every dog has its day. Raising awareness for animal welfare
- Names: Using someone’s name in the subject lines personalises the message.
Bob, we need your advice on the tender document
Tried and tested subject line examples
Online marketing strategist Tommy Walker has compiled a swipe file of 557 subject lines.
For those of you who write marketing emails, you may also find this Sleeknote post on subject lines useful.
If you wish to improve your email skills, register for my online course: emails@work: How to write effective business emails.
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