Does an e-mail subject line matter?

Have you ever wondered if your e-mail subject line actually matters? Do people even read those things, anyway? Read this true story from Oscar, the owner and founder of Lifedge, about a recent experience he and his family had. You’ll find out!

It’s time for family vacation!

Recently, my family and I were going on a weekend vacation. The trip had been planned for over a month, and everyone was excited for a few days of family time and fun. The hotel was booked, the bags were packed, and the kids were chattering eagerly about the fun ahead.

After a couple hours of driving, we arrived at the water park. As we pulled in, we noticed that the parking lot was very sparse. In fact, you could even say that it looked….closed.

With dread, we realized that the obvious was true. How could it be closed?? After panicking with my family, wondering what we were going to do, I started looking through my e-mails to see if the hotel had contacted me. As it turns out, they had actually e-mailed me twice.

I know what you’re probably thinking right now. “Man, that’s on you. They contacted you twice!” I looked closer, and noticed that I had marked the e-mails as read, but hadn’t actually read them. Why? Because of their subject line. The subject line was the same for both e-mails. It read: “Important Update Regarding Your Upcoming Stay”.

E-mail subject lines matter!

I don’t know what your first thoughts would be when reading that subject line in 2021, but mine run to COVID restrictions: what’s open and closed in the hotel, rules and regulations, etc. I’d read all of these things on the website, so when I read those subject lines, I probably immediately figured that it was information I had already seen multiple times.

As you may have guessed, my previous assumptions were incorrect. The e-mails were actually informing me that they had cancelled my reservation because of their extended closure. (So why did the subject line still call it my “upcoming stay”??)

As we rearranged our plans and climbed back into the car, I started talking with my wife about the importance of a good subject line. Maybe this is a lesson to teach me to read e-mails, but I couldn’t help explaining to my wife that I would have actually read the e-mails if the subject line read: “WE HAVE CANCELLED YOUR RESERVATION”, or, “IMPORTANT: YOUR RESERVATION HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO EXTENDED CLOSURE”. Remarkably, even though they had sent two e-mails, they had both been sent more than 21 days before my actual stay, and they both had the same, trivial-seeming subject line.

Clarity wins over all

At Lifedge, we often discuss the importance of clarity. Confusing customers leads to frustration and failure. Customers shouldn’t have to assume something simply because the message isn’t clear. Clarity wins over all, and it’s our responsibility to provide clarity for our customers.

Like me, I’m sure you receive tons of e-mails every day. With the busy pace of life we all live, no one has time to read every single e-mail. I know this story will be a reminder to me to always strive for clarity. Clarity matters not only in my e-mail subject lines, but in everything I write, and in every conversation I have with a customer. I hope this story is a reminder for you, too, and helps you and your customers succeed!

P.S. We still had a great vacation. We stayed in another hotel and came back to the water park when they opened, which fortunately happened to be the next day.

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