Master your subject line

Face it; your emails are part of a snow storm blowing into someone’s Crack berry.

Your carefully worded opus is part of a day’s load of information that you expect to poke through, get read and hopefully elicit a response.

If you want to jump out of the e-noise and improve your readership with your email buddies you need to hone your skills at writing good subject lines.

The basics are:
* Vague is bad
* Hey! is not a real subject line
* RE: RE: FW: FW: is not attractive and will not be read right away

When I know someone well, I will make a call to action in the subject line if my email is intended to get someone to do something. If I need to change a call, I put it in the subject line. If I need you to send me a file, I put it in the subject. You’d be amazed how your response rates jumps.

When I am in a less intimate business relationship, I work on a three to five word subject that zeros in on why I’m sending the email. If we are working on an event together I’ll put “About the sales conference” in the subject.

When you reply, feel free to start a new subject (too often we just reply and the subject line stays the same, except now with a RE: before it.) Let the new subject line redefine where the email thread is going. This not only helps to focus the email exchange on a real outcome, it keeps the conversation going.

This is especially true if many of your email buddies are on black berry. They scroll through subjects and make their choices almost on impulse. Most of the devices (like the TREO) will just show you subjects, not authors and you have to open it to know more.

In those cases, you can be the most effective just putting your name in the subject line. When I’m reconnecting with someone, for example, I always put “From Tim Sanders” in the subject line. Again, I’ve noticed a much quicker response.

All the comments on the blog are helpful and I’d like to invite readers to contribute their best advice for writing a subject line that gets results! This is an advice blog, so let’s start cross sharing advice — espcially if it can improve our email lives.