Most of us have been in this unenviable scenario: you are composing an e-mail and find yourself staring blankly at the blinking cursor on the subject field, thinking, “What the heck is my subject?”

This situation can be especially problematic if you are a business owner trying to get the word out about your project, since you know that you need a subject that piques a potential customer’s interest.

Here are three pointers that may help to keep your message from being sent to the virtual trash heap.

1. Employ an Economy of Words

Shakespeare wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” One could easily argue that brevity is also the essence of effective business communication. You should use a subject line that is brief (no more than 50 characters, according to some experts). You should also aim to make every word count.

2. Compose the Message First

In his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey’s first habit is to “begin with the end in mind.” You may need to slightly adjust this advice when thinking of a subject line. Rather than remaining stuck at the beginning of your email, compose the body first. Sometimes, getting a solid grasp of the big picture of your message helps you to title your message in a brief but effective manner. Do not be afraid to leave your subject line until the end; just make sure not to send your message without one.

3. Think About the Spam Filters

You may think titling your business email with a casual tone (such as “Hello” or “Hi”) will increase the chances that your recipient will open the message. But most spam filters would take these and many other common words and phrases and send your message to the spam folder, never to be seen or read. You have a better chance of getting around spam filters if you focus on making your wording unique, rather than simply conversational.

You will only get to the “perfect” subject line through trial and error. If you begin your endeavor by employing the three simple pointers mentioned here—and building on them as you gain experience in crafting your unique message—you will see results that will pay off in the long run.

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