Do You Spend Enough Time Crafting Your Email Subject Line?

Last Updated Sep 19, 2008 8:21 AM EDT

It should be obvious that your subject line is the single most important element of an email. Do you take the time to think about what it says, or do you just dash off the first thing that comes to your mind?

Here are some tips for writing better subject lines:

  • Keep it short: people are reading their email on PDAs, cell phones and while they're eating breakfast (or lunch). More than six words and you're losing their attention
  • Keep it simple: you can only communicate one thing in a subject line
  • Use numbers if possible: numbers (actual figures, not words) have been shown to boost open rates
  • Write headlines: think like a journalist. What's the most striking thing you can say to get your reader's attention?
  • Flatter your reader: remember, everyone's favorite subject is themselves! "Nice seeing you yesterday" or "Great job today" are like catnip -- they're irresistible
  • Use short, commonly understood words. The average English speaker only uses about 2,000 of the language's half-a-million words
  • Avoid prefaces like "NEWS BULLETIN:" -- they're a waste of space
  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.