They’re not reading them. The important email that has been carefully crafted is sitting in some in-box somewhere. Ignored.
By using stand-out subject lines you can improve the odds that people will read and respond to your emails. You’ll also reduce the amount of email you receive and/or have to open. Here are four tips to reduce email overload just by effectively using the subject line.
Always use the subject line.
An email without a subject line is like an envelope with no printing. It’s probably junk so it’s unread or worse, trashed immediately. If it’s not worth the author’s time to create a subject line, it’s not worth the recipients time to read it. Help the recipient prioritize by letting them know why you’re writing.
When the topic changes revise the subject line.
Email threads often shift to a topic unrelated to the original subject. Change the subject line to reflect the new topic. It’s easier to follow and retrieve the conversation for each topic.
Use the subject line to ask for what you need.
For instance, “Need answers to 3 questions about xyz proposal.” It’s maddening when you get a reply but only some of your questions are answered, requiring another round of back and forth. If you tell the recipient how many answers you need, and craft the body of your email to make it easy for them to spot the questions, you increase your chances of taking care of the questions in one go-round.
Make the subject line the entire e-mail.
Need to thank someone? Confirm a meeting time? Use abbreviations to get your point across. With some of them the recipient doesn’t even have to open the email, which could make people love you. (What the abbreviations mean is in parenthesis.)
- NRN – (No reply necessary)
- Thanks – EOM (End of message)
- Great job! – EOM
- Noon Tuesday at the Lodge – EOM
- NWR – Wellness Center – (Not work related) Use for mass e-mails that may not be of interest to everyone receiving it. In this case it’s an email update about something going on at the company Wellness Center. If the recipient uses the Wellness Center they can read the email. If not, they can delete without opening.
- Out Sick – Michael Scott – (Lets your team know quickly that someone is out for the day.)
Using these abbreviations requires that your entire office is on board so meanings are clear and it’s a smart procedure to have in place. You can introduce it to your clients who will likely appreciate your efficient use of their time as well.