3 Tips for Mastering the Perfect Email Subject Title

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As Stanford students, we are constantly sending emails with subject lines like the ones above. Whether we are publicizing events and parties or selling the last of our books before we graduate, we seek to capture our audience immediately with catchy subject titles that entice people to learn more. For some, this task is easier said than done. For others, you find yourself spending 10 minutes thinking of what words to use, popular culture references, etc. We here at Stanford Marketing realize the troubles of crafting the perfect subject title, so we’ve created this helpful guide to mastering your title generating skills. Below are some helpful tips that will help you make your next subject title in the most efficient and effective manner. Enjoy!

1.) Be Concise

This by far is the most important tip! Subject titles are supposed to give the reader a snapshot of the information in the body of the email. Thus, the subject should be brief and to the point. You should not be writing full length, complex sentences in your subject title. Because readers are constantly on the move, attention spans are extremely low. Additionally, most readers are using their smartphones when they open emails, so get straight to the point. Take the below subject titles as examples:

Join us tomorrow at Cemex at 7pm for a conversation centered on the intersectionality of Law and Finance!
-vs-
Law and Finance Panel tomorrow at Cemex!

The first example, though quite thorough, is too long. The last example is to the point but also forces the reader to open the message to find out the time of the event. As a result, you have visibility for the text, flyer, or gifs in the body of your email. That’s not to say the first example would not yield the same curiosity from the reader. The time spent reading the lengthy subject title, however, is time that could have been spent reading the body of the email and moving on to the next item in the inbox.

2.) Be Creative

Dry and boring subject lines may be useful for getting the point across quickly, but there are ways you can make the reader even more curious to read past the subject line. Once you know your target audience, it will be much easier to do this step. Try some of the following tricks to making your subject title jump completely off the page:

Popular Culture

Music is always relatable, especially if the song is widely known. Another would be to quote artists, political figures, or athletes. As DJ Khaled would say:
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Use Captivating Words

Bold, striking language easily stands off the page to readers. As with anything in life, use in moderation. 

Fully capitalize certain words

Variation of capitalized words is another way to capture your audience. Be strategic the
words that you capitalize completely. Again, if all the words are capitalized, your phrase may
lose some of its flare. Use your judgement as to which is most effective in getting your point across. 

WINTER QUARTER GRADING BASIS AND COURSE WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE
-vs-
[DEADLINE] Winter Grading Basis and Course Withdraw 

3.) Be Receptive

Before you send out your email, read the subject title out loud to one of your friends and be receptive to any critiques they may have. At the end of the day, you want to be sure that your subject title will be understood by those other than just yourself.

Written by Bryant Johnson