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Why you need emotion in your subject lines

18th April, 2023

Why you need emotion in your subject lines

“You have to stop doing this, Kim.”

 

A few weeks ago my husband marched into my office, brandishing his phone.

 

“Doing what?”

 

“Sending me emails with subject lines like this.”

 

“Like what?”

 

“Like ‘Maniac or idiot?’  It gives me a heart attack!  I worry what on earth I’ve done to upset you!”

 

Ah.

 

You see, being the supportive man he is, my husband subscribes to these weekly emails.  But, in his inbox, they’re indistinguishable from my other regular emails to him about exciting topics like house maintenance or the kids’ schools.

 

So it’s not surprising the subject lines are a little alarming when he reads them.

 

“And not long ago there was that other one, called ‘Bankrupt’. Oh and ‘Calm down’.  And let’s not forget ‘My beef with your voice messages.’”

 

I got his point.  (I hope he’s unsubscribed by now or this email might send him over the edge…)

 

But secretly this exchange made me a little happy.  Because subject lines should make your reader FEEL something:

 

Curiosity.

A sense of urgency.

Reassurance.

Excitement.

And yes, even sometimes, concern.

 

Because emotion is what makes us act i.e. open those emails.

 

Now of course you might not want to send your boss or client an email called ‘Dating advice’ (as I did to you a few months back).

 

But you can do better than ‘Update’, ‘Meeting request’ or ‘Quarterly review’, right?

accenture
UBS
Ricoh
Euromoney
University of Cambridge

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