Ah, email. Even in this age of social media and instant messaging, we are somehow still beholden to this technology that was invented in the 1970s. In spite of this, even a quick glance at our inbox proves that people still don’t know how to use email. There’s a lot to be said about unspoken rules and faux passes, but really. Sometimes even common sense can show you that these emails can touch on the side of annoying.
And to prove our point, this is a list of the types of email subject lines that, like silly string armbands and musical.ly, needs to stay in the past.
1. The Greeting
Even if you just want to add a dash of sociability into your emails, subject headers that just say ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ don’t give the readers any context. A subject header should ideally give the reader a brief explanation into what the email will be about, and just a ‘hello’ tells me squat.
This isn’t some sort of mystery novel where the truth will only be unveiled at the end. Nobody has time for that. Make your case quick.
And speaking of mystery novels…
2. The Cliffhanger
On The Second Day Of CNY…
All Women Need It, But
Subject headers that start a sentence, but finish it in the body of the email. Hoo boy.
Please finish your sentences in the subject line. Don’t subject anyone to this. Perhaps if this method is used only once in a blue moon (among amazing quality emails), you might be able to get away with it, but more likely than not, you’ll annoy readers.
3. THE SCREAMER
OH MY GOD STOP YELLING AT ME.
YOU MIGHT THINK THAT THE ALL-CAPS IS ONE WAY TO MAKE YOUR EMAIL STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD, AND IT DOES. IN A BAD WAY. EMAIL USERS (OR ANYONE ON THE INTERNET REALLY) HAS ALREADY SEEN TOO MUCH OF THIS, AND WHATEVER DRAWING EFFECT YOU MIGHT THINK THE ALL-CAPS COULD BRING HAS ALREADY MADE ITS MARK BACK WHEN WE WERE EVERGREEN INTERNET USERS.
WE’RE JADED TO THE ALL-CAPS NOW. AND ALSO ANNOYED.
4. The Filler Words
Example: Hello! Can I Ask About This Job Opening?
Especially if someone is a working professional, they probably get dozens to hundreds of emails a day. If you’re trying to draw someone’s attention, make your email headers concise and to the point, or have a witty one-liner. No point adding in all of that fluff, those can be added into the body of the email itself.
5. Too Many Exclamation Marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What is this, early 2000s internet? It makes any email look completely unprofessional. Same goes for those that use too many question marks too.
It also achieves somewhat of a similar effect to the all-caps mentioned above, where it feels like you’re just screaming by yourself and the recipient is an unwilling listener. It’s great that you’re excited, but just make the content exciting without all of the yelling.
And trust me, if what you have to say is really that exciting, you won’t actually need exclamation marks.
6. The Emoji Monster
Ever since emoticons in text messaging have become replaced with emojis, some studies have shown its increased usage in emails. There is probably a time and a place for emoji subject lines, but more often than not, it’s a big no-no; especially if most of your email header is a string of emojis.
Worst yet are the email headers that are nothing but emojis. If you’re rolling your eyes now, trust me. They exist.
7. The Desperado
Email subjects that say “Open me!” “URGENT” or “Please Read” .
If everything you send is ‘urgent’, then nothing is, at least in your recipient’s mind.
This is alright if something is actually urgent, but if you’re just putting that in all of your headers to get people to read your emails, then chances are, readers will get annoyed enough that any of your actual urgent emails will be banished straight into trash. And you’d deserve it too. No one likes to be manipulated (well, at least know when they’re manipulated)
8. The Ghost
Also know as, no subject line at all. This could just be an oversight on the sender’s part, or even just a prematurely sent email, but this is definitely one thing you always have to be sure to check. And if sent, remedied immediately with either an apology, or even an explanation.
But if you do this on purpose, then I don’t know how to help you. Why do you do the things that you do?
9. The Breakup
If your email header has ‘Call Me’ or ‘We Need To Talk’, it instinctively sends a flash of fear in your reader’s eyes that reminds them of that horrible talk before a breakup, even if your message is completely benign. It’s somewhat of a trigger, in fact. Save your readers the anxiety and either elaborate further, or just word it nicer.
Get 75% off the whole store… just kidding!
re: That Email I Sent Earlier
In all fairness, I don’t see this too often, and far be it for me to give anyone ideas, but this has been done.
Again, nobody likes to feel manipulated. If you’re either outright lying in your subject header, or you’re adding a fake re: to make it seem like they were waiting for a reply from your email, then people are going to get annoyed. You may achieve the desired effect of people opening that first email, but this is a one-way ticket to ‘Block all from this sender’.