Every time you send an email, you enter an arena in which you fight with dozens or hundreds of other senders to get your post opened.
I receive hundreds of emails every week -- businesses, students, family members, friends, bloggers, and even from unknown Nigerian relatives who want to give me money.
Every one of these people is hoping I'll open their post, but just between you and me, not only do they not all get read, but I actually trash many without ever opening them.
I delete them on my first scan of my inbox and never give them another thought. I can't afford to consider them because I've got things to do, ideas to grow, and dreams to follow. I choose to open or not open emails in large part based on what the sender puts into the subject line.
While some people obviously get a pass -- family, people with whom I'm conducting important and immediate business, etc. -- if the subject line doesn't compel me to click, I either delete the message or set it aside -- I have a C-file folder for this purpose -- for a time when I am in the mood to scour my old messages.
That time rarely comes.
In fact, I opened my C-file while I wrote this just to see what I had parked there, and I had a boatload of unopened emails there, many of which had been languishing there for over a year.
I've impounded thousands of messages that didn't meet the standards for immediate deletion or immediate attention, but instead were sentenced to spend time in my C-file purgatory until I get the gumption to purge them.
Wanna know what the chances are that I'll read any of these? About zero. In fact, it's as close to zero as you can get without actually being zero.
Instead of reading these messages, I'll go through -- probably right after I post this piece -- and summarily execute all that are more than just two or three months old.
I'm not the only one who does this kind of thing. In fact, you have your own process and version of a C-file, don't you?
Would you like to avoid having your email tossed into the abyss? Then do this simple thing. It's what I've told my workmates and my university students for years:
Use your SUBJECT line to actually tell me the subject of your message!
I tell them it's their subject line and that they should use it to enter just a few words (50 characters or less -- see image below) to tell me exactly what the message is about and what I'm supposed to do about it. If I have to guess about the contents or am not otherwise compelled to open the message, then I hit DELETE and move on to the next.
Julian Sancton shared some thoughts about this at Businessweek.com and it is right on the money. Peruse the infographic Sancton shared (below) and see how your subject lines are helping or hindering your email communications.
Then, join the conversation below and share how you ensure your emails win the inbox war.
[Image: via Bloomberg Businessweek]
How do you ensure your emails win the inbox war and get opened? Share your thoughts below...