Improving email subject lines

2013Nov14_Productivity_CA successful business is built on many different essential components. Communication is one of those elements and without successful interactions you likely wouldn’t remain in business for long. The main form of communicating these days is through email, which many business owners and managers struggle with. Sure, they can write an email but they often fall flat with the subject line and the consequence can be wasted time trying to keep track of email content, or the risk that an email won’t be opened by the recipient.

Here are five tips on how you can write better subject lines for your emails.

1. Standardize where possible

There is a good chance that as a business owner or manager you often have emails asking the same question or that you send out similar emails on a daily, or regular basis. In order to be more effective and save yourself a little time, why not standardize the subject line for similar emails. For example, if you send out a weekly update with important information to suppliers, use the same subject line such as – ‘Weekly Supplier Update DD/MM to DD/MM’.

If you and your employees use a standard format like this you could see a decrease in requests and confusion over content and what exactly the email is about. This in turn means fewer reply emails and questions and therefore more time to focus on other tasks. If recipients get used to seeing this standardized subject line then they know what to expect from an email and the message about what the email is about is more easily communicated..

2. It’s ok to use some abbreviations

Despite whatever your teachers might have stressed about grammar through school, abbreviations and acronyms are actually fine to use in email subject lines. The key here is to only use those that are commonly known. For example, FYI (for your information) and RE (regarding) are perfectly acceptable to use.

If you are going to use specific acronyms or abbreviations that people may not know, you need to reference the meaning in some way. An easy way to do this is to use them in the body of the email first, and explain what they mean the first time you use them. For example, WRT (with regard to) which is increasingly used but not necessarily universally known.

3. KISS your subject lines

We don’t mean actually bend forward and smooch your monitor – that would be a little weird. What we mean is ‘Keep It Stupid Simple’. When writing subject lines try to keep these as simple as possible. Don’t use confusing words and don’t write long sentences. That being said, don’t go too far the other way either. Sometimes one to two word subject lines may not be enough to get across the point of the email and may actually provoke questions or confusion. Take a look at the subject you write and ask yourself if it is as simple as possible, yet clear enough to avoid any misunderstanding.

4. Be as specific as possible

While keeping it simple is important, you also need to keep subject lines specific. A great subject line will tell the user exactly what the email is about. For example, if you are inviting customers to a webinar on your newest service, a subject line that says something along the lines of: ‘Webinar in November’ is ambiguous and likely to get ignored.

Writing something like ‘New Service Webinar Invitation Dec 16’ is much more specific and likely to create that necessary spark the interest for users to click open the email and read on.

5. Write actionable subject lines

The reason many of us send emails to colleagues is because we want them to do something. We want them to act. Because most people are busy, and don’t want to spend time trying to decipher what a sender wants then simply adding the intention and desired action in the subject line can be worthwhile.

For example, if you need a colleague to edit the monthly sales report putting a line like ‘Monthly sales report’ may cause the employee to either ignore it, or put it to the side for later, largely because they may think it’s a report, or not something that they need to act on. A subject line like ‘Edit Monthly Sales Report’ immediately informs the recipient that you are requesting an action. It also saves you time having to go into lots of information in the body of the email too.

Looking to learn more about how you can save time and improve productivity in your organization? Get in contact with us today to see how we can help.

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