- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

Do Email Subject Lines Really Matter?

12th November, 2020

Do Email Subject Lines Really Matter?

One of the things I get asked about most in the world of email is subject lines.


What should you write to get people to open your emails?

Which are the best words to use?

Which ones should you avoid?


And my answer’s not always what people expect.


Because whilst subject lines are important, they’re perhaps not as important as you think, if you’re writing to someone who knows you.


It’s more about setting the right expectations.


Here’s what I mean: there are people whose emails I love to receive so much that I tear them open before I’ve even read the subject line. I just know they’re going to write something that will make me smile or think.


Other emails that I rip open straight away are the ones I know are going to be low-effort to read. The sender has a history of clear, concise emails. It’s always clear what they want me to do.


And other emails I love are the ones where you can just hear the sender’s voice – they put so much of their personality into their emails that even ones chasing payments or asking for spreadsheets give me the warm and fuzzies.


I’d open them even if they had ‘Your romantic dinner date with Donald Trump’ in the title.


Well, maybe.


So what’s the moral here?


If you want people to open your emails, write emails they actually enjoy receiving.


Sound obvious, but do you do it?


Do you write short, interesting ones that get to the point, fast?

Ones that ditch formal language and let your personality shine through?

Ones that add humour, where possible?


Before you write, do you think about your recipient and how to make it easy for them to read and action your email? (Or do you write what’s easiest for you a.k.a. rambling waffle?)


And do you edit, hard, before you hit send?


Whether you’re writing a marketing email, a sales pitch, asking for a meeting or trying to get a colleague to do something, aim to be a bright spot in your recipients’ inbox.


In other words: write the emails they WANT to read.


That’s what gets your messages opened.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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