Why we should make our email subject lines informative

We all know how important subject lines are for sales emails. Many people make it a rule to spend as long on the subject line as on the content itself. Some experienced marketing people force themselves to write 10 different subject lines, so they can choose the best one. Now, when you’re dashing off an email note to a colleague, of course you’re not going to spend half an hour brainstorming the subject line. But you could at least be helpful – and polite – by making it descriptive.

“Hi” or “Important Note” are neither of these.

Why is an informative subject line useful to the recipient? Simple: it enables them to find the email more easily at a later date. Some people prefer to scan lists than use search; others may not be able to find your email using search because you’ve not used the search terms they’d expect.

My own technique is to write the subject line as the last thing, not the first. This gives me the opportunity to copy a key phrase out of the message to use, so I save time as well as provide a helpful subject line.

Sometimes, this even reminds you that it’s possible to get all the important information into the subject line. If you’re writing an email to announce that the next marketing meeting will be on Tuesday 26th April at 10am in Meeting Room C, why not give it a subject line of “Marketing meeting, Tuesday 26th April at 10am in Meeting Room C”, so that people can subsequently confirm the time and place just by scanning their email archive? Don’t treat informative emails like Christmas presents, thinking that half the fun for the recipient is in the opening, wondering what the surprise inside will be.

3 thoughts on “Why we should make our email subject lines informative”

  1. Hi, do you not also subscribe to the view that intriguing subject likes like, “3 important things you should know about Subject X” can play a part? I don’t advocate the viral social media video titles of, “You won’t believe what happened next!” but I think if titles are too factual they don’t necessarily pique your interest as much.

  2. I do agree David, but in this article I’m talking about subject lines “when you’re dashing off an email note to a colleague”, and therefore don’t need to be intriguing. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  3. Yes, you’re quite right, I routinely alter email subject lines to indicate the change in direction of the conversation. I’m also the type of person to correct the misspellings of others in the subject line too. I’m destined for a very fussy corner of hell.

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