After a Writing Tune-Up I led yesterday, Gordon, an attendee, sent this suggestion, which I edited slightly for your understanding:
I have one thought I believe worth passing along having to do with subject lines. A test for a subject line is “Will readers be able to find an email when they need it, even if it’s weeks or months after they receive it?” Emailing out a policy is a good example. No one is going to commit the policy to memory when they receive the email. But people may remember receiving the policy and would like to find it quickly when they need it.
With Gordon’s excellent suggestion in mind, think long term when you create email subjects.
Here are four subject lines in my email inbox. Which would work for the long term?
A Little Help Please
Bid Request: Better Business Writing
Don’t Ignore Your Hometown Media
From Marshall Management
If I were to keep these messages for several months, I believe 2 and 3 would still be easy to identify. (Number 3 is an ezine from publicity expert Nancy Juetten.) Number 1 could be any request for help. Number 4 identifies only its sender.
Before sending out your next email, think of the future. Especially if you are forwarding a policy, procedure, presentation, list of resources, or other documents you want readers to keep, choose an email subject that will make sense in a week, a month, or a year.