Three titles that make people open your emails

What a waste of effort. You’ve sent an email and you can see it’s not even been opened.

You send another email. Still no response.

By the time, you’ve sent the third nudge, you may as well have crafted a handwritten message on parchment to be delivered by carrier pigeon.

Why people are not opening your email

More than likely, it’s the title of your email that’s not grab-worthy. According to Mailbutler 47% of email recipients decide whether to open an email based on its subject  Emails very quickly get swallowed up in a person’s inbox over the course of a busy day.  Thus, if you want to standout amongst a long and daunting list of unread emails, you need to have the right the subject title.

Unless a person is specifically waiting for, and therefore wanting to receive, your email, you have to grab their attention, and how you do this is a key element of my business communications skills training.

How to make sure your email gets read

Take one of these three tactics if you want to get your email opened and paid attention to. In summary, these three techniques are called: Benefit, Specificity and Intrigue.

  1. Benefit – Include a benefit to the reader in the subject title: For example, emails titled ‘Timesheets’ or ‘Your hours this month’ would be more effectively headed, ‘Get paid on time’ or ‘Do you want to get your bonus?’ . Thanks to Andy Bounds, author of ‘The Snowball Effect’, for this tip.
  2. Specificity – Be very specific in your email subject title: For example, instead of an email with ‘Our Meeting’ in the header, state, ‘Our meeting next Wednesday’. That takes the guesswork out of an email contents. The reader knows exactly what they’ll find.
  3. Intrigue – Be intriguing with your email subject title. Entice them to open the email. That means avoiding dull and vague such as “Meeting next week” or ‘FYI’ (‘For your information’).  Instead, you might write a heading, such as, ‘You’ll love Page 7!’; ‘Lewis, do you need an excuse for this?’ See? This stirs their curiosity.

Your Action:

  1. When you write your next email, use one of these techniques in your subject heading
  2. Experiment with the other two methods this week and see how quickly people respond to your email.

Of course you need to chop and change between these techniques to suit the type of email and the type of response you need, and a key element of business communications training is knowing when to use each technique to make sure your email gets read and acted upon. If you want more valuable email communications techniques like these, then check out my communications skills courses and contact me, Frankie Kemp today.

This article was originally published in January 2020 and was completely updated in February 2024.

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