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8 Subject-Line Secrets That Entice People to Read Your Email The only part of an email certain to be read is the subject line. If that's boring, few will read what follows no matter how brilliant it is.

By Jacqueline Whitmore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Crafting an effective email isn't just about the text you deliver; it's about getting people to open your email and read your message.

According to the Email Statistics Report, on a worldwide average, people sent and received 191.4 emails per day in 2014. With this many messages coming in constantly, it's no wonder many people won't take the time to read all their email messages. They might read only a small portion of a message or headline, scanning for relevance before moving on to the next one.

The words you choose for your email subject line have a big impact on whether someone opens and reads your message. Use these tips to make your subject line more compelling.

Related: 5 Rude Emails You Send Every Day

1. Keep it short and sweet.

You don't know how many words your recipient will see when your email pops up on their screen, so try to keep it under 50 characters, or between four and seven words. Avoid one-word subject lines such as "Hello" or "Hi."

2. Use strong keywords.

Use words that will get the recipient's attention. For example, be specific and say, "Important Updates on the Wick Project" instead of "Important Updates." Always change the subject line when the thread or content of the email chain changes.

3. Make your reader curious.

What do you have to say that your reader doesn't know already? Does your email challenge their current thinking or promise a reward? Questions are a great way to pique your reader's curiosity and inspire him or her to open your email in search of an answer.

4. Make a connection.

Refer to someone's hometown, business or community and they're likely to take a look. And don't be afraid to put your name or business name in the subject line. Many people open emails based on the sender alone, so don't miss the opportunity to reinforce your specific brand.

Craft your subject line with phrases such as "referred by" or "met you at [event]." People are more likely to open an email from someone they have met or is referred by someone they trust.

5. Never use spam words.

Subject lines that are too sales oriented will most likely to wind up in the receiver's spam filter. Andrea O'Neill of Mail Chimp developed a list of the most notorious spam filter triggers. They include phrases like "Increase your sales," "Information you requested," or "Double your income."

Related: This New Tool Can Make It Easier to Retain Control of Your Inbox

6. Punctuation and spelling.

To look professional, take care with your spelling in the subject line. Always re-read your entire email and do a spell check before sending. Spam filters also look for an abundant use of punctuation such as asterisks, all caps or numerous exclamation points.

7. Include dates and deadlines.

Deliver time-sensitive information in the subject line. This can include start dates or deadline notices. A successful promotional strategy for an event or a special offer will likely include a series of emails. For example, you can send out an initial announcement followed by a final reminder with a tight deadline to act.

8. Trumpet your announcement.

If you have something new and exciting to share about your business, channel that enthusiasm into your subject line. When you share an announcement, your email subscribers will feel like they're the first to know and will be motivated to read on for more details.

Take a look at your own inbox and see which emails you tend to open first. Putting yourself in your contacts' shoes is one of the best ways to write a subject line that will get you noticed and boost your business. A compelling subject line can make the difference between a message read and a message missed.

Related: Opportunity Everywhere: Why and How You Should Cold Email Everyone

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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