If you’re like most professionals, you probably write dozens of emails a day but barely think about the subject line. It’s an afterthought that you add just before you hit send.
If so, you’re making a big mistake. The subject line often determines whether an email is opened and how the recipient responds.
We asked career, email, and marketing experts to offer their best tips for crafting the perfect subject line. Whether you’re looking for a job, emailing co-workers, or reaching out to potential clients, here’s how you should approach it:
One of the top mistakes people make on email is forgetting to write a subject line, says Amanda Augustine, career expert at professional job-matching service TheLadders. An email with a blank subject line will likely go unread or get lost in a cluttered inbox. Write the subject line before the email so you know it’s taken care of.
A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while a mobile phone shows just 25 to 30 characters, says Augustine. Get right to the point in about six to eight words.
A whopping 50% of emails are read on mobile phones, says Dmitri Leonov, a VP at email management service SaneBox. Since you don’t know how much of the subject line will be viewable from a smartphone, it’s important to put the most important information at the beginning. Otherwise, compelling details could get cut off.
With such precious space, don’t waste it with unnecessary words like “hello,” “nice to meet you,” and “thanks,” which can easily be included in the email’s body.
The subject line should communicate exactly what the email is about so that the recipient can prioritize the email’s importance without having to open it. For example, writing “Do you have a sec?” is vague, says Augustine, since the reader will have to open the email or reply to figure out what you want. If it’s a job application, she suggests including your name and the position, and if it’s to another co-worker, you should identify the project that the email refers to.
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