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"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

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« Thinking of Blogging? Freewriting Makes it Easy | Main | Content Marketing Institute Contributing Article Writer »
Tuesday
Jun222010

Why Precise Email Subject Lines are Like Diamonds 

Imagine a diamond.
Not any old diamond, mind you.
But a diamond with irregular, jagged, pitted edges.

Would you buy a diamond that wasn’t cut precisely?
Exactly.

Without that factor of preciseness, a diamond is practically worthless.

This factor of preciseness also applies to your email subject lines
A precisely written email subject line is highly valuable to your reader.

But wait a sec. Precise subject lines are not what you see 99% of the time.

Which makes you wonder.

What do 90% of email subject lines look like?
Most email subject lines are too broad, nonspecific and general– they lack any kind of description. Most email subject lines you read are, um, b-o-r-i-n-g, forgettable and yes, often worthless.

Have you seen these generic subject lines?
“Next meeting.”
“Proposal feedback”
“Meeting minutes”

Subject lines like these leave the receiver of your message wondering what the heck your email is really about. Communicating messages that create doubt or guessing games in your reader’s mind weakens the chance of having your message acted on.

Your email subject line is no different. As a matter of fact, your subject line can sometimes make or break the success of your communications.

Why bother making your subject line valuable?
It creates value. Creating value in your subject lines has three benefits:

1. It creates a trigger; making your communication more memorable.
2. It creates action; delivering results in a timely manner.
3. It is easily searchable; allowing easier access to recall and act on your message in the future.

Of course, you can only reap these benefits once you know the single “trick” in writing your subject line.

What’s the trick in writing a valuable subject line?
Be precise.

The more precise and specific you are, the more valuable and actionable your email becomes. So go ahead and add a specific detail or two in your subject lines. Or ask a question to generate curiosity and action.

Creating precise subject lines takes your message from “ho-hum” to “attention getting.”

Then there’s the problem you don’t think your email is valuable
Hey, you’d rather just fire off an email with a nondescript subject line in a nanosecond rather than take a few seconds to write something precise.

Which subject lines are more valuable?
“Next meeting” or:
“6/15 staff meeting: Customer testimonials needed. Bring three ideas.”

“Proposal feedback” or:
“Read last 2 proposal paragraphs: approve or change by 8/18.”

“Meeting minutes” or:
“7/27 Marketing Dept minutes. Reply to survey by 5pm today.”

Right– the second subject lines are more valuable. Why?
They’re precise. Clear. Sharp.

Specific subject lines beat generic subject lines any day. In fact, it’s this preciseness that creates tremendous value for your readers– just like a diamond’s precise cut creates tremendous value for the consumer.

So yeah, you’d be silly if you didn’t take an extra few seconds to think up precise subject lines for your readers.

Add a diamond to your subject lines
Be precise.

Your readers will secretly thank you.

--Tom

P.S. How’s your email ping-pong lately?

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