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Top 10 Best Practices – Effective email subject lines

One of my clients recently asked if I had any good write-up on best practices on how to write professional & effective email subject lines.

I was surprised and I thought who would need a write-up or a guideline on a topic as simple as writing effective email subject lines. I mean, did we ever went through any tutorial to learn how to play a PC game (popular in late 1990’s and early 2000) ! However, upon closer observation, I realised that professionals are too busy with their work, and hence, are more concerned with the email body text rather than subject lines.

So I started researching on “reading psychology”. With some A/B testing and my past experience, I compiled a list of “Before vs. After” effective email subject lines to help you decide best. A quick 2-mins read would help brush up some important user-friendly practices.

You can also watch video tutorial on Writing Concise Subject Line for Emails

Tip #1 – Use reference tags (person’s name)

Before: Fwd: CV for Job
After: CV – Marketing Manager [reference: Rishikesh Mehta]

Tip #2 – Use reference tags (importance status)
Before: March 2016 Travel Cost Approval Pending
After: March 2016 Travel Cost Approval Pending [Important]

Emails may also be sent to 3rd parties who may not use Outlook. Hence, adding status tags and version name can add to the clarity in communication.
Example: Send Budget 2016-17 v3.0 [URGENT]

Tip #3 – Use reference tags (end of mail)

Very often, you access email on the move, esp. on Mobile Smartphones. Simple messages which require an acknowledgement can be framed like this:
Example: PitchBook v3.0 received [eom] where eom> refers to “end of mail”. This tells the reader that there is no need to read the body of the text.

Tip #4: Follow up emails wrongly sent earlier
Example: Budget 2016-17 v3.0 resent [Ignore Previous]

Tip #5: Indicate timeline

Before: New Tariff Chart
After: New Tariff Chart pan India – effective 1 June 2016

Before: Excel Training
After: Invitation: Excel Training – Mumbai – 25 April 2016

Click here to join our new Outlook Ninja course.

Tip #6: Indicate response type

Before: Social Media Strategy Meeting
After: Request for Meeting – Social Media Strategy – Thursday

Other examples:
– Invitation: Excel Training – Mumbai – 25 April 2016
– Approval needed: 3 days casual leave next week
– Invoice Copy attached – March 2016 dispatch [for records]

Tip #7: Reminders & Followup

– Reminder: March 2016 Travel Cost Approval Pending
– Sent again: March 2016 Travel Cost Approval Pending

Tip #8: Sending Attachments (version no. with tag)

– Travel Requisition Form attached v5.2
– Travel Budget 2016-17 [attachment]

Tip #9: Use correct spelling to enhance searchability

Before: Social Media Strategy Meeting
After: Social Media Strategy Meeting

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Tip #10: Obvious Dont’s (CAPS and fillers)

– REMINDER: MARCH 2016 TRAVEL COST APPROVAL PENDING
– It was nice to meet you
– Hi

NB – Our latest course on “Outlook Ninja: Tips and Tricks” have been released.

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About the author

Rishabh Pugalia

Author CA. Rishabh Pugalia has 10+ yrs. of work experience in Audit, Interest Rates Trading & I-Banking