The first part of each New Year I receive an influx of email inquiries about my business etiquette services. Companies and organizations are planning their professional development for the year, and I’m always thrilled to share how I may serve them.
However, in these inquiry emails, several things catch my eye, including the lack of effective subject lines. They’re often too vague or don’t reflect the content of the current email thread. So, to get your emails read by your reader, which we all want to happen!…here is a short list of three ways to write subject lines that are effective and will help get your emails opened and read, and indicates good email etiquette.
- Make the subject line specific. “Staff meeting” is too general. Add the date: “Staff meeting, February 6” is more specific. If you’re attaching an agenda for the meeting, your subject line will read, “Agenda, Staff Meeting, March 6.” (Note: Quotation marks are for emphasis only in this blog post; they are not included in the actual email subject line.)
- Change the subject line to reflect the most current email in a related email thread. When I emailed a Letter of Agreement to a client, my subject line read: “Dining Etiquette – March 7, Letter of Agreement.” However, when my client emailed back to ask several related questions, she did not change the subject line to indicate that the content included several questions. So, when I responded to the email, I changed the subject line to read: “Dining Etiquette, responses to your questions.” Changing the subject line to reflect the current email thread helps the reader know exactly what’s in the email. In addition, a more specific subject line helps to locate a specific email when doing a keyword search.
- Write “FYI – New health insurance information – no response needed” – This subject line is an effective way to let your reader know that this is just a FYI email. In other words, it can be read at leisure, and no response is needed. On the other hand, if an FYI email requires a response, then indicate that in the subject line: “FYI – New health insurance information – action required by March 6.”
Writing good subject lines is part of good email etiquette and good business etiquette. These tips will help your emails to be prioritized by the reader, and your emails are more likely to get opened and responded to in a timely way.