Think for a moment about how you approach your email inbox. Do you only click on emails from people or companies you recognize? Do you open each email and carefully read every word before deciding whether to delete, respond, or file it away? If you’re like most people, odds are that you look first at the sender and the subject line to determine if you’ll take the time to read further or if you’ll immediately delete the message. For this reason, an email’s subject line is hugely influential on how likely the message is to be read.
Email matters for almost everyone
According to EmailAnalytics, 95% of customer service representatives use email for work; similarly, an astounding 98% of customers use email. With almost all of your customer base using email to send both professional and personal messages, it’s impossible to argue against the value of delivering excellent customer service through digital platforms such as email. Despite the widespread use and familiarity with email as a business tool, poor service via email is still prevalent in the customer service world. For instance, according to SuperOffice, 62% of companies simply don’t respond to customer emails!
As email has become one of the most common ways to do business and contact customer service support, the expectations around its use have changed. While a 24-hour response time might have been acceptable at one time, this is no longer the case. SuperOffice reports that 46% of the customers they surveyed expect companies to reply via email within four hours. This number is far off the actual average response time which, according to SuperOffice, is 12 hours.
So, it seems like you can get an edge up on the competition simply by replying to emails from your customers. That’s truly the bare minimum, though. Moving beyond the basic expectation of providing a response, there are a whole host of ways to set your organization apart from the rest by enhancing your email service. The first step? Starting at the top with the subject line.
Common subject line mistakes
Developing perfect subject lines can be difficult, though, for a variety of reasons. In an attempt to catch your attention as you scroll through your inbox, some companies will use subject lines that are intended to be eye-catching and exciting but instead often come across as spam. For instance, you might have seen one of the following in your email inbox:
- ACT NOW! Special offer
- Great deal only available for you
- Big savings! Click the link to find out more
While the email might come from a legitimate company that really does have a special offer for you, these types of subject lines seem impersonal and gimmicky. The reader is unlikely to take the time to read the body of the email, particularly if the sender is unfamiliar to them. In addition to seeming like spam to the recipient, it’s possible that an email with this type of promotional copy in the subject line can be flagged as spam by the email system and sent straight to the junk mail folder never to be seen again (or, at least, seen when it was intended).
Another common mistake is the use of subject lines that are far too long. Many people nowadays view and respond to their emails from their phones. Despite how large some phones are, the screen only displays a certain number of words or characters in a single line. This means that subject lines are incomplete and cut off or generally difficult to read. If your subject line exceeds the amount of text that can be displayed on a phone screen, there’s a good chance it’s way too long.
Finding the perfect balance
The goal for any business communication via email is to use subject lines that are concise, clear and noticeable. Despite being short and sweet, the subject line is valuable real estate, and it should be used wisely to your advantage. It’s likely to be the difference between your email being opened or sent straight to the trash. There are a variety of best practice suggestions you can use to develop eye-catching and effective subject lines.
To find out how to strike the perfect balance when writing an email subject line, contact a ServiceSkills representative today and request a free demo of Email Matters: The Art of Better Service. This series covers the specifics to empower you and your team to deliver top-notch customer service via email. Be sure to read some of the additional topics in this series: