No matter how high tech the world becomes, there are still many old-fashioned problems regarding communication. With email, you face the same challenge as you do with regular mail-- convincing the recipient to open the message (or envelope).

A subject line allows the reader to see at a glance what the message is regarding. It serves as gatekeeper, determining whether the message will be opened. Here are three methods for writing an effective subject line.

Many email recipients delete messages without ever opening them. How do you avoid ending up in the electronic equivalent of "File Thirteen"? The answer is: by using a good subject line.


1. Say Something Useful

Leaving the subject line blank isn't an option. People don't open messages when they don't know what they're about. For one reason, they don't have time to be bothered. For another, the threat of email viruses makes people nervous.

Almost as useless as leaving the subject line blank is typing the word "Hi" or "Greetings." Those are fine for messages to your best friend or mom. In the professional world, it tells the recipient absolutely nothing.

2. Be Specific

For example, instead of typing "Question," try, "Question about ABC event." Instead of typing "Proposal," try, "Proposal for event on 7/5."

People receive lots of email. To cut through the clutter and get your message read, be specific about the topic. The more information you provide in the subject line, the better chance you have of getting the person's attention.

3. Be Creative

Since space is limited, don't type a complete sentence. Use a phrase or series of words. Even abbreviations are acceptable, if you are certain the recipient will understand them.

Many email recipients delete messages without ever opening them. A subject line allows the reader to see at a glance what the message is regarding. Using a specific subject line is most appropriate when corresponding with people you know or who are expecting your message. In this instance, the subject line isn't used to describe the contents of the message. The key question is-- what can you tell the recipient that will convince him/her to open the message and read it?

There is one more challenge to overcome when crafting an effective subject line-- length. Your screen will allow you to type as many words as you want, most recipients can only view 25-35 characters of a subject line.

In this instance, the subject line isn't used to describe the contents of the message. Instead, it conveys some other type of information. The exact content will vary, based on the message and recipient. The key question is-- what can you tell the recipient that will convince him/her to open the message and read it?

Using a specific subject line is most appropriate when corresponding with people you know or who are expecting your message. How do you get the attention of someone who does not know you? Be creative.

Here are a few examples that demonstrate various goals.

- To explain why you're contacting him/her, try "MPI Fundraiser."
- To tell how you met the person, try "Chamber Networking B'fast."
- To exploit a common bond with recipient, try "Fellow IU grad."
- To identify yourself, try "Local Meeting Planner."
- To distinguish yourself from others, try "Spanish Speaking Realtor."

But... most of all - don't leave your email messages naked. Use an effective subject line.  Get creative!

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Michelle Hoffmann is the owner, editor and publisher of The 24KaratMarketer Ezine at http://free24karatmarketer.com, an online publication that is dedicated to helping marketers, new and experienced, succeed in their online businesses.   She is also a mother, writer, photographer, internet marketer and website designer.  Yes, she does it all!

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