Email Subjects Should Help Us Both

Start by reading the post on Lifehacker, “The Worst Email Habits and Annoyances You Should Avoid (or At Least Be Aware Of).” If you are reminded of your own habits with email, take a few of the subtle hints provided.

One point that I want to emphasize is regarding the email subject line. My simple advice is to make the subject line helpful for both the recipient and the sender. Here is what I mean.

I frequently get email with the subject “Website.” That’s it, just the word website. For the person sending the message, there is only one website that they could possibly be referring to. For me, it is a slightly different story.

But let’s consider a different example. Perhaps you run a tire store, and your customer sends a message with the subject, “Tires.” Just imagine for a moment, looking through hundreds of emails and seeing the subject, “Tires.” Might make you want to scream. If I were emailing a tire store about tires for my car, I’d add some specifics to the subject. “New Tires for 2002 Hyundai Sonata.” I might even go so far as to include my name with it.

When I write this email, most of the subject isn’t something that I need at all, rather it is something that might help the recipient of my message. But consider the reply that might come in a few days later while I’m in the middle of something and see the reply, “RE: New Tires for 2002 Hyundai Sonata.” And now the reply to my original message is much more helpful to me as well. Fast forward a few months when you are searching through email looking for some detail, and your subject lines become extremely valuable time savers.

Here are some of my least favorite subject lines that I frequently receive:

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Seminar
  • LinkedIn
  • Contact
  • Follow-Up
  • Help
  • Status
  • Hello

So when writing the subject line (and please, do not write email without a subject line), give the recipient just a little extra context – who, what, where and when – to help us all manage our email inbox a little more efficiently.

What are some of your least favorite email subjects that you receive?

Comments

  1. Least favorite? That's easy.
    “IMPORTANT”
    Just like that…caps & all. Now, unless I know exactly who you are and have some idea of what might be so important, this email is going straight to the 'trash'. Anyone who knows each other will know better than to waste time on crap. Legitimate emails are all important in one way or another.

    I'll tell you what too…depending on what mood you caught me in, you might even get placed on my 'blocked senders' list by sending something like that. Save the drama and just indicate what's so important. Making people guess is a sure-fire way to lose the audience.