The average working person receives 110 emails a day, so here are some ways to make sure yours gets opened. Using only the wizardry of the subject line. And featuring gifs of wizards (great info aside, it’s worth reading this just for the wizard gifs tbh).
Be very specific
Whether you’re enquiring about work experience, or want to pitch an article to your local paper, don’t ever write “Question” or “Hello” or “:|”. For starters, all emails contain a question and a greeting, so it’s hardly going to blow them off their chair backwards. “A PITCH” is slightly more helpful but still woefully uncreative; try “A PITCH: [INSERT THE PROPOSED HEADLINE FOR YOUR FEATURE]“. Much more attention-grabbing.
All that aside, if they decide to scroll through their inbox one fine November morning and look for everyone who emailed them about work experience because a window of opportunity has magically appeared, they won’t remember “Hello” actually meant “Work experience enquiry”.
Try not to be kooky
Capital letters, exclamation marks and emoticons will make you sound a bit desperate and mad. Stay professional and, at most, casual-professional. If the subject line was a man, he’d be in jeans and a checked shirt and maybe some brogues with a sharp looking bag to show he’s totally on it while not being too uptight. Got it? What? I thought that was an excellent simile.
Judge the tone
In saying that, “Would love to do work experience with you guys!” could work well for a fun-loving startup specialising in kazoos but not so much for an IT company or Vogue. Again, emoticons never work for anyone, so don’t even go there. If in doubt, check the website for the tone, and word it accordingly – for example, “Work experience enquiry” would be good for a finance, IT, bank, sales etc. If you’re looking to get into PR, you could always ask to be put on their mailing list… and then emulate one of their own subject headings, while incorporating yourself and “work experience”. Creative, and shows you know the brand…
Oh this is naughty, but if you start a subject line with the word “Re:” followed by your uber specific title as described above, then the person might think they’ve already been chatting to you and will be more likely to open the email. Yes, this can work – provided you don’t then start the email with “Dear Sally, Sorry I wrote RE I just wanted you to think we were already chatting so you’d open this email HAHAHAHAHA”. Just plough straight to the point and pause for a moment, as this is the closest writing a subject line gets to being an actual wizard.
Subtly personalise it
Getting personal is a good idea unless you misspell their name or go too far. “FOR SALLY WITH LOVE” is a bit obvious, but “FAO Sally” implies (ever so slightly) that this is off the back of some phone convo you had ages ago, or someone was like “Hey, this is a great email, why don’t you fire this off to Sally? She’ll appreciate it.” Either way, people are more likely to open an email if it has their name on it, as long as it’s not very obviously spam.
Resist the temptation to make jokes
There are very few ways you can make jokes in a subject line, and that’s because it’s not the place to have a laugh. “KNOCK KNOCK SALLY” won’t work unless you’re applying to work in a joke shop, and I’m not sure joke shops exist anymore. In fact, do they? Tweet us. Anyway, don’t make jokes and don’t be ironic; pretending to be spam to show your sardonic yet painfully sharp wit will just get deleted, and that goes for the joke shop too.
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