Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Subject Lines that Work for You

When you go into a bookstore--if you can find a brick-and-mortar store--what do you see on the shelves?

Books, right. But what part of the book is facing you?

Unless the book is authored by a major player like Stephen King or J, K. Rowling, all you see are the spins--that narrow strip of color and text with the title and the author's name. That tiny bit of information is all that a publisher has to grab your attention so you pluck that book off the shelf instead of another. 

What does this have to do with business writing and subject lines?

A lot.

Your subject line is the spine of your email. When the recipient opens his or her inbox, your name and the subject line are all he or she sees. That tiny bit of information is all that you have to grab your reader's attention and get them to open your email instead of another.

So, how do you create a subject line that is that compelling?

Start by making sure the subject line sets the readers expectations about the contents of the email and what you want him or her to do. Use a keyword to focus the reader on action. A keyword is the first one or two words of an email: Decision Needed, Action Needed, Review by (date), Approved, Approval Needed, and so on. Follow the keyword with the rest of the subject line.

Decision Needed: Which payroll vendor are we going with?
Review by April 5, 2013: Revised policy for processing travel vouchers
Approved: New marketing piece for the ABC Widget Program

You get the idea. 

Think of your subject line as the spine of a book, write it so it captures the reader's attention, and make it easy for the reader to know what you expect from him or her. 

Check out my on-demand webinar and companion e-book to write emails that get results.  

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