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Subject Lines: What You Shouldn't Do
The biggest challenge with email is getting people to actually open the message! Many people delete messages without ever opening them. So, how do you avoid ending up in the electronic equivalent of “File Thirteen”?
The answer is: by using a good choice of wording in the subject line. The subject line is the field that appears on your screen somewhere below the “To” field when you are creating a new message.
On the recipient’s screen, the subject line is one of the only fields that the recipient can read without opening the message. Typically, the other fields are “To,” “From,” “Date Received,” and “Date Sent.”
The purpose of the subject line is to allow the reader to see at a glance what the message is regarding. The subject line is vital! It’s arguably the most important line you write in an email. Why?
Because it serves as gatekeeper, determining whether the message is viewed by the recipient. It doesn’t matter how wonderfully you’ve written the message, if that message isn’t opened and read. The better job you do of crafting a subject line, the better chance you have of getting your message opened. So, how do you write an effective subject line?
Leaving It Blank
Leaving the subject line blank isn’t an option because many people won’t open messages if they don’t contain a subject. The recipient may not take the time to open a message if he/she doesn’t know what it’s about. Also, the onslaught of vicious email viruses has caused people to be cautious, as well they should be.
Many programs will give you a warning box if you try to send a message without a subject line. This protocol in many email programs is in place to warn you that leaving your subject line blank is not a good idea.
Typing the word “Hi” or the word “Greetings” in the subject line tells the recipient absolutely nothing. This lack of information might be acceptable for email messages you’re sending to friends. However, when you’re corresponding with customers and colleagues, remember to include a relevant subject line.
Keep in mind what to avoid when typing your subject line. Then, you’ll be well on your way to sending emails that are opened and (hopefully!) read.
About the Author: Kelly J. Watkins, MBA, Louisville, KY. Visit: http://www.KeepCustomers.com to order, Email Etiquette Made Easy (a comprehensive guide filled with exercises & examples) or for tips on communication & customer service! (812) 246-2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.