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June 21st, 2009

6 Subject Line Tips for Great Recruiting Emails

Mandy Green, Selling for Coachesby Mandy Green, SFC Team Development Specialist 

Email is a great tool that college coaches use for communicating regularly with recruits. 

For recruits that we have had a chance to speak with during our On-Campus Workshops at colleges around the country, one of the main factors behind their decision to even open, read and act on an email is the subject line.  Coach, subject lines are one of the most important components of an email you send to a recruit.  In just a short amount of space, you must convince your recruit to open your email to see what you have to say. If that subject line is not interesting or create curiosity, the recruit very well may reach for the delete button.

Coach, think about something.  The headline in a newspaper does two things: It grabs your attention and informs you what the article is about so you can decide whether you want to read further. Email subject lines to your recruits need to do the same thing.

Coaches are always asking us to help them write subject lines that produce higher open rates as a part of our ongoing work with programs around the country.  Appropriate use of the subject line increases the chances your email will be read and not deleted without so much as a glance. 

Keep these six principles in mind as you approach writing subject lines for your recruiting messages:

1. Use the subject line to inform the recruit of EXACTLY what the email is about in a few well-chosen words.  Subject lines should convey something important, timely or valuable, and should say to the recruit: "If you don’t open and read this email, you’ll miss out on something of real value."

2. Generate curiosity in the subject line. Your email is competing with all of the other Subject lineemails being sent by your competitors for the recruits’ attention. To increase the chance of having YOUR email opened it must intrigue the recruit, the same way a well written headline does. If you can invoke interest in the email message content, you will improve your open rates. However, the body of your message must deliver what you promised in the subject line or your future email messages may lose credibility.  “Are you good enough to play here?” would be an example of a subject line that we have found to create curiosity with recruits and has a high open rate.

3. You might include a call to action such as "Please respond by July 4th with your answers.”  The number one goal of sending emails is to get a response.  Give them a timeline with specific instructions about what to do next in order to keep the stream of communication flowing between you and your recruits.  Calls to action are also a way to keep control of the recruiting process.
4. While your emails may be distributed to large groups of recruits, they are being received by individuals. Subject lines must recognize this and “speak” to the needs and interests of your recruits as individuals.  As we talk about in our advanced recruiting guides for college coaches, it is imperative that you speak to the individual needs of the prospect you are recruiting.  They will sniff-out messages that are not personalized or irrelevant to them, which will greatly hamper your efforts to connect with them.

5. Avoid using your program’s name in the subject line. In most inbox displays, the "From" field is listed first, followed by the subject line. Your school email address should appear in the "From" field for easy identification. There’s no need to waste valuable space repeating it in the subject line.

6. Vary the subject line for each email.  If you use the same headline every time you send an email, we have found that there is a noticeable drop in open rates.

If you’re not sure if your subject line is a good one, send the email to yourself first.  Pay attention to the emails that are being sent to you.  What subject lines catch your attention?  Constantly test your subject lines to find out if changing a word will improve your responses.

Coach, if you are having a hard time getting responses from your recruits, consider your subject line.  For SFC Premium Members, we will be discussing writing good subject lines all week. 

Register now for our upcoming recruiting conference!  We’ll be talking about the use of email, and how to make it a more effective part of your recruiting campaign.  Plus, hear more tips and techniques for designing a winning recruiting message in this two day workshop designed for advanced college recruiters.  Click here for all the details!