That was the gist of a headline I recently read in the June/July 2019 issue of Money.com’s newsletter. The actual headline is “Here’s a Genius Method for Writing Emails That People Always Open.”
Either way, it was fascinating, especially for an editor who has her definite notions of how things should be done.
For instance, I’ve always gotten a bit annoyed when news publications don’t capitalize their titles properly. In my not-so-humble, pre-reading-this-article opinion, “The octopus escaped his temporary home” wouldn’t be right. It would need to be changed to, “The Octopus Escaped His Temporary Home.”
Unless it’s a preposition, conjunction or article that’s three letters or less – and isn’t the first or last word of the headline – it gets capitalized. End of story. (Or beginning of story, as it were.)
Except that, apparently, that’s not the end of the story. At least not with email subject headers and preheader text.
As the article in question states:
Whether it’s an invitation to after-work drinks, a pitch to your boss, or any kind of business inquiry, if your emails aren’t getting opened and answered, there’s one thing you need to change: Stop writing the typical “polite” and buttoned-up email and start writing an EFAB [Email From a Bestie].
And a bestie (unless she’s a die-hard editor) probably wouldn’t send all capitals.
The full rationale behind the simple sentence starter – i.e., a subject line that doesn’t look like a subject line – is that people are already inundated with emails:
Emails that are important
Emails that aren’t important
Emails that may be important
Emails that nobody has time to read regardless…
In short, people are getting a lot of emails – far too many to actually read. And most of them are probably put together by stodgy editors grounded in good grammar. Either that or people who also have too many emails to read and don’t have the time to put together a decent headline as a result.
Actually, that’s the rationale behind all this article’s tips and tricks to encourage customers to read what you send. You want to put something together “that feels personable and warm – like it’s from a friend to a friend”…
Even though it’s really from a businessperson to perhaps (and even probably) a completely unknown individual.
That first tip about email subject lines also advises us to make them less stiff. Throw in some humor. Some spice. Something other than “Paperwork to Be Filled Out.”
The purpose of your email might be, in fact, to urge clients and potential customers to fill out paperwork. But they don’t need to know that right away.
They need to be engaged.
As such, you can try something more along the lines of:
Fill this out to win big…
What still needs to be said?
Just one more step to go!
Make it sound intriguing, mysterious, exciting or otherwise attention-grabbing. Money.com puts it this way: “Make them so curious, they can’t ignore it or resist opening it.”
It also includes this bonus tip:
… the most engaging subject line will be something personal and specific about your recipient: an accomplishment you admire, something you bought from them, even somewhere you spotted them (but were, perhaps, too shy to say hi)…
They won’t be able to resist opening it. Everyone’s favorite topic? Themselves.
Of course, if you’re dealing with people you’ve never met, never seen, and only know a few basic things about, those individual suggestions don’t work. Yet the larger premise still stands.
Put “you” in the title, and you should boost your chances of being something other than just another email. Which, I'm assuming, is precisely what you want to be.