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Sitting here scanning my email, I shake my head at the worthless information I see in many “From” and “Subject” lines. Not only do the poor choices I see make it harder to figure out what’s in the emails without opening them, but also the senders are risking the recipients skipping their messages altogether.

The following are examples of what not to do.

459715_mailSitting here scanning my email, I shake my head at the worthless information I see in many “From” and “Subject” lines. Not only do the poor choices I see make it harder to figure out what’s in the emails without opening them, but also the senders are risking recipients skipping their messages altogether.

The following are examples of what not to do.

Email fail #1: Bad “From” addresses. These come straight from my mailbox:

  • Programs
  • No-reply
  • Customer_service
  • Salesusa
  • Admin
  • Register
  • Contact

These “From” addresses give no clue as to where the email has come from or what to do with it.  If these emails had used the company’s name or the sender’s name, they’d be much more useful.

When the time comes that you need a writer, you might scan your mailbox to jog your memory for a writer you know. So which email will you open? An email from  “Contact”, “noname@gmail.com” or “Meryl K. Evans”? You can change what appears in the “From” line for most email clients in settings. In Gmail, for example, you can change your “From”  address under the “Accounts” tab.

Gmail email settings

Email fail #2: Bad subject lines. Again, these come straight from my inbox:

  • Order number 1234
  • Your payment has been processed
  • [Blank]
  • Careers update

Bad subject lines are unspecific (like “Careers update”) or worse, totally lacking useful information that could easily be included. The first two examples here would be much more useful if they told me what company and product these emails were pertaining to. A blank subject line is all too common. If you can’t be bothered to write a subject line, why should I open your email?

Email fail #3: Lacking signature. Once the reader has opened your email, take it a step further by including contact and other relevant business information in your signature, as not everyone will want to look up your web site.

What to put in your signature depends on your business, but I find it useful to break my signature into two parts: what I do and links to my social network profiles. It’s longer than I would like, but grouping the information into two sections makes it less intrusive. Here’s my signature:

Meryl K. Evans
Content Maven for Hire
Writing :: Editing :: Research
Web site: http://www.meryl.net/

Connect
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/meryl
Facebook: http://meryl.net/shorty/facebook/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/merylkevans

Before listing my social network links, I had links to a couple of books I had authored. When the books got “old,” the links to my social network profiles replaced them.

Now is a good time to do a review of your email account for the three simple things that can make a great difference in your email effectiveness: “From”, “Subject” and a useful signature. With today’s overwhelmed inboxes, your emails need to say, “Open me.” Give them all the help you can.

Share your email tips in the comments.

Image by stock.xchng user CarrieAlli.

  1. [...] exclusivity? (jkOnTheRun) Good news for web developers, and Android apps, at Google I/O (OStatic) Does your email fail to speak for you? (WebWorkerDaily) TubeMogul gets embedded in players around the web (NewTeeVee) Apple gives white [...]

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  2. I prefer short and sweet e-mail signatures. Of course, the content of a signature block depends on the conventions in a particular line of business, and I further recognize that some signatures are forced onto people by their well-meaning (or legally paranoid) employers.

    But please, a signature block is not the place for your CV or a list of every publication credit you’ve had since high school. That goes double when it’s attached to a single-line message.

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  3. [...] exclusivity? (jkOnTheRun) Good news for web developers, and Android apps, at Google I/O (OStatic) Does your email fail to speak for you? (WebWorkerDaily) TubeMogul gets embedded in players around the web (NewTeeVee) Apple gives white [...]

    Share
  4. [...] exclusivity? (jkOnTheRun) Good news for web developers, and Android apps, at Google I/O (OStatic) Does your email fail to speak for you? (WebWorkerDaily) TubeMogul gets embedded in players around the web (NewTeeVee) Apple gives white [...]

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  5. @Julie, what do you think of my signature block that balances what I do and my biz site and with SM links?

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