How to write emails that will always be read

Which email would you rather open first ‘More Bad News’ or ‘Quick Update on ABC for You’? What about ‘Tax Time Again’ or ‘Ways to Save You Money’?

Emailing. It’s such a key piece in our day-to-day lives, writes Kay White, of communications and mentoring firm Way Forward Solutions. We fire a quick email response off or ‘shoot from the fingertip’ and it’s so easy to forget that we’re not top of the list for the person receiving it.

Grab them by the eyeballs

They, like us, have loads of things clamouring for their attention.So how do we stay on their radar – how do we help them to help us by opening our message and acting on it? First off, by grabbing them by the eyeballs and making our email title interesting and compelling.

Five email subject lines that work

  • ‘Quick question’is a great one. If it is a quick question, say it is. Put it in the title.
  • Another one is ‘You’ll know the answer to this one’. People love to know that you think they’ll know and, in general, we all like to help each other.
  • ‘Just found this out’– if you have, say it in the title. New information is always interesting and if you have some, say so.
  • ‘Only 2 days to go’­­– if there’s a time constraint or deadline you’re all working on, put it out there in the title.
  • ‘An opportunity for you’ – again, if it is, say so.You know yourself you’re more likely to open this one than if it was titled ‘Learning and Development Plans’. Blah.

From working with clients on how to be more engaging, how to grab and keep attention, this is clearly such a key piece of the puzzle.You may have the hottest news, the greatest opportunity, the most important instruction but if your email is scanned along with the hundreds of others and left until later – or never – then, so what? Some people don’t even put a title in the subject line and that is close to asking to be ignored.

How to create enticing email titles

So how do you decide on the title?By stopping for a second and considering what will compel or attract the person on the receiving end of your message.Consider what your reader wants or what they want to avoid.

Email is an amazing tool, so useful, simple and helps us keep in touch, get information across the world in a second.It’s also a proven way to really upset and confuse people.The language you use, the layout, the sign-off - all these pieces are key to getting your message across in a way that works for you, that helps you to be understood and gets you the response or reaction you want.

Whatever it is that you want from the person whose inbox you’re targeting, the first step is to get your email opened!

Article reproduced with permission of Kay White, a communication and mentoring expert at Way Forward Solutions. Kay shows experienced - and often frustrated - professionals how to be heard and understood. Her free eBook Power Up; Speak Up; Be Heard has already been downloaded over 4,000 times.

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30th May 2012

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