Emailers! Please Get My Attention with Informative Subject Headers

Katie Lee writes...

This is great, this "writing a weekly column" business: I get to rant on about all the dull things that occupy my tiny little brain and generally out myself as the prematurely old curmudgeon I am. And maybe three of you will read it and feel a similar stirring of curmudgeonliness and we'll all revel in our collective grumble, and - ultimately - feel validated. This week I've got the thrilling issue of subject headers on my mind. No, bear with me... it may well get interesting in a few sentences' time (possibly).

You see, the thing that really gets my goat about subject headers is how few people use them. And in this world where data is flying at us from every angle - spam, press information, news, mailouts, spam, friends, work colleagues, RSS feeds, more spam, MySpace friend requests, rubbish non-funny email forwards, spam - not using subject headers is faintly insulting, quite frankly.

Possibly I'm over-reacting, but a number of my email addresses are available for public consumption on the internets, and trying to sort the genuine press releases from the information on how I can increase the size of my penis is so much harder when there's no subject header, or - and somehow this is worse - when the subject header is really vague ("press release" being a personal favourite).

Seriously, you want me to read your email? Sell it to me. Tell me why I should read your email. Make it sound worth my while to do a double click. And if you have any sense of decency at all, make the subject header easily searchable, so that when I'm trying to find your very important email in a week's time, I can locate it from within the mountain of Nigerian scams and emails of Angela at Shiny Shiny's "Best Photo" (does anyone else get "best photo" emails off Angela? I think she may actually be my favourite Shiny employee...)

It's not that I'm trying to make myself sound busy and important - everyone is busy and important these days - but I think it's a common courtesy to let people know what you're writing to them about. If you're planning on thieving some of their time, at least give them fair warning as to whether they should open your epistle immediately or save it for another day. And if any more PR's send me emails with the subject header "press release" and body copy that says "press release attached", I may well have to do a bit more muttering under my breath. I'm all for affirmative action, me.

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