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Chamber News & Views Aug. 2, 2018

Published on: August 1, 2018

Is your subject line repelling readers?


When you send an email to a friend or family member, chances are probably good that they’ll get opened, read, and there will be a response. However, if you’re sending emails out to customers, board members, customer service departments or maybe even an elected official, your chances are only as good as your email subject line. 

The website has some good suggestions for getting your emails to accomplish what you need them to do. 

Let’s start with those phrases that are non-starters: Trying to connect; Join us for; Quick request/question; Webinar. I must admit “quick question” gets me, too. There are no quick email questions — ever. 

Next, we move up to the “try not to use” category. These include: Checking in; Catching up; Status of; Confirming; Next steps. Yikes! That includes every email subject line I use every day. I apologize to all of you who’ve been subjected to my subject-line ignorance.

I was looking forward to being told next about what magic words and phrases work. Got nothing from, so l moved on to Their first tip is to keep your email subject line short and sweet. They recommend using fewer than 50 characters. Next, they recommend using concise language. So, concise, short and sweet. 

It also helps to make people feel special. Consider a subject line something like:

“An exclusive offer for you.” Or: “My gift to you.” Now, don’t you feel special?

A compelling question can also work. Zillow sent out an email with the subject line, “What Can You Afford?” Then they put a link in the body of the email to a site showing apartments for rent. It worked. The click-through rate was awesome. 

And puns are deemed okay in your subject line. That is great news for the future of my emails. But we get a big no-no for anything in ALL CAPS and an overuse of exclamation points!!!! See what I did there?

This next tip I learned in a marketing class. You need to time your email correctly. Let’s say you own a restaurant, and your Tuesday lunch crowd is a little light. Sending out an email to your mailing list on Tuesday at 11:30 highlighting a Tuesday lunch special will probably get the attention of workers sitting at their desks counting the minutes until lunch. Even better, if it’s raining, you could offer a rainy day special. I’d put some of those little drink umbrellas on top of that special.

Even if it’s a personal email, timing still needs to be considered. If your mom’s birthday is Monday, getting that birthday email on Tuesday probably won’t go over well.

Action verbs also help. What would get you into your local pub more quickly: “Where to Drink Beer Now.” Or “We have a beer special tonight.” Although when talking beer, probably both would work.

Bottom line is, if your emails aren’t getting opened, they are not getting read, and you’re wasting your time. Judging from what I remember about my emails today that were asking for updates, my email box will remain empty for now.