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40 politely-worded templates to get invoices paid

Subject lines for collections emails: what to include, what to avoid

Subject lines for collections emails: what to include, what to avoid

Collections can be among the most challenging and frustrating aspects of running a business. It can be challenging to navigate the delicate balance between maintaining good relationships with clients and ensuring that payment is received promptly. In many cases, collections emails are essential to this process, serving as a reminder and prompting clients to make their payments.

However, crafting an effective payment reminder can be more complicated than it may seem. One of the most critical aspects is the subject line, as it is often the first thing that recipients see and can determine whether or not they even open the email.

To help you improve your collections email subject lines, this blog will share tips on what to include and avoid when crafting compelling subject lines, based on the experience of Chaser's in-house collections team.


Your collections email subject line can be the difference between prompt payment and no payment at all

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Why a compelling subject line is so important

As the 2022 Late payments report highlighted, 87% of businesses reported that their invoices get paid after the due date. Chasing these late payments puts a colossal strain on businesses, causing 50,000 small businesses to face bankruptcy yearly, just in the UK.

To collect payments effectively, businesses have to spend resources they can't afford to lose, with 50% of businesses spending more than four hours per week on accounts receivables tasks.

The Late payments report also highlighted the widespread use of email for collections, with 93.8% of businesses using email to chase payments. At the same time, taking a proactive stance on chasing late payments was shown to be the most effective way to collect payments, with 90% of businesses that used proactive methods like Chaser getting paid within a week of their invoice due date.

Add those two facts together, and the subject line of your collections email could be the difference between being paid promptly and not receiving payment at all.

What to include in your collections email subject line

  1. The correct information: Be sure to include essential information such as the invoice number, due date, and payment amount in your subject line. This helps the recipient quickly identify which invoice the email is regarding and can prompt them to take action. Additionally, making your subject line personalized and specific to the recipient will increase the chance of them noticing and opening it.

  2. A sense of urgency: Using words like "urgent" or "action required" can create a sense of urgency and encourage the recipient to prioritize your email. Just be sure to use these words sparingly, as they can lose effectiveness if overused.

  3. Personalization: Including the recipient's name in the subject line can grab their attention and make them feel like the email is specifically for them. This personal touch can also help establish a positive relationship with your clients.

  4. A clear call-to-action: Consider using phrases like "please pay now" or "payment overdue" to clearly communicate the purpose of your email and prompt the recipient to take action. If possible, hyperlink these calls to action phrases to your payment portal to allow the customer to pay their invoice instantly.

While each collection email will be specific to your situation, incorporating these elements into your subject line can make it more effective and increase the chances of receiving timely payments.


What to avoid in your collections email subject line

  1. Threats or aggression: While using strong language to intimidate clients into paying may be tempting, this can often do more harm than good. Avoid using threatening or aggressive language in your subject line, as it can damage relationships and even lead to legal consequences.

  2. Vague or misleading statements: Your subject line should accurately reflect the content of the email. Avoid using vague or misleading phrases like "important update" or "urgent request" if they do not pertain to the specific invoice being discussed.

  3. Excessive punctuation or capitalization: Using too many exclamation marks or all capital letters can make your subject line appear spammy and unprofessional. Stick to proper grammar and punctuation to maintain a professional tone.

Avoiding these common mistakes while chasing payment ensures that your collections email subject line effectively conveys the necessary information without damaging client relationships.


Examples of good subject lines

To make it easier to understand how these guidelines can be put into practice, here are a few examples of effective collections email subject lines, with a breakdown of why they work:

Action required - [Your company name] - Overdue Invoice INV-001

This subject line contains all four of the elements mentioned earlier: it includes necessary information, creates a sense of urgency, is personalized by including the company name, and has a clear call to action.

Given the number of professional emails we receive daily, personalization can be the critical factor in getting your email noticed, opened, and responded to.

When the customer in question views this subject line, they know exactly what the email is about and are prompted to take action immediately.

Final Reminder - [Your company name] - Overdue Invoice INV-001

As with the first example, this subject line includes all the essential elements. Using "final reminder" creates a sense of urgency and lets customers know this is their last chance to pay before further action is taken.

Riding the fine line between aggressive and compelling can be difficult, and pushing your client onto the defensive can be counterproductive. This subject line strikes the right balance by creating a sense of urgency without being overly aggressive.

[Your company name] - Polite reminder for Invoice INV-001 [Debtor’s Name]

In this subject line, the combination of personalization, polite professionalism, and persistent gentle reminders can be a powerful combination. By addressing the debtor by name and using courteous language, you show respect for their relationship and time.

The use of "polite reminder" also conveys that this is not an aggressive or threatening email but a gentle nudge to prompt payment. This approach can help maintain positive client relationships while still effectively collecting payments.

At the same time, this subject line still makes it clear that a payment is expected, and including the invoice number gives the recipient all the necessary information to take action.


What makes these good subject lines?

What each of these subject lines have in common is that they effectively communicate the necessary information while also creating a sense of urgency and prompting action.

They also avoid language or tactics that could damage client relationships, ensuring that collections are handled professionally and efficiently.

By incorporating all four elements mentioned earlier, each subject line encourages timely payment and can help improve your overall collections process.

So next time you send a collections email, remember the importance of a well-crafted subject line and use these guidelines to ensure yours hits the mark.


Examples of bad subject lines

To counterpoint the good examples, here are a few examples of subject lines that should be avoided when sending collections emails. These examples fall into the common trap of using threatening language, being too vague or misleading, or lacking a clear call to action.

Urgent: Invoice Payment Required

Lacking both specificity and the critical information needed to identify the invoice in question, this subject line falls short on multiple levels. The lack of personalization makes it less likely to catch the recipient's attention.

Invoice Overdue: Kindly Settle the Amount

At the end of the day, collections are all about getting the money you have already earned and are entitled to. While being rude or aggressive is unprofessional and counterproductive, being too kind or polite can have negative consequences.

This subject line lacks the necessary assertiveness and urgency to prompt timely payment. It also doesn't include any level of detail, so even if the recipient does glance at the title, they may not know which invoice needs to be paid.

A Polite Request for Invoice Payment

This is another example of how rudeness and assertiveness are different. Making it clear that payment is expected is crucial in collections emails, and this subject line falls short on that front.

The recipient may see the word "polite" and assume they have more time to pay or that there will be no consequences for further delays. Without a clear call to action, this subject line lacks the necessary impact to prompt timely payment.

It also lacks any level of specificity or personalization, which can make it less likely to catch the recipient's attention.


All caps and multiple exclamation marks are a great way to get a one-way ticket to the spam folder. Using aggressive or threatening language is never acceptable in professional emails, and excessive punctuation only makes the email appear desperate and unprofessional.

This subject line also lacks any detail or personalization, making it unclear what the email is about and why payment is needed urgently. It's more likely to annoy or frustrate the recipient than prompt timely action.

Even worse, it's precisely the kind of attention-grabbing tactic that cybercriminals have been known to use in phishing emails. Using excessive punctuation and aggressive language can make your email appear suspicious, and recipients may be less likely to open it or take action.


What makes these bad subject lines?

All of these examples lack one or more of the essential elements that make a good subject line for collections emails. They either use threatening language, are too vague or misleading, or lack a clear call to action.

These mistakes can hurt relationships with clients, decrease the chances of timely payment, and even put your email in danger of ending up in the spam folder.


Get paid faster with compelling subject lines for collection emails

Choosing the right subject line for your collections emails can significantly affect how quickly you get paid. By incorporating personalization, polite professionalism, urgency, and specificity into your subject lines, you can effectively prompt action while maintaining positive client relationships.

Of course, a subject line is just one part of a larger collections strategy. Taking a proactive approach to managing accounts receivable, using clear and concise language in email communication, and following up consistently can all contribute to overall success in collections.

With Chaser, you can take a proactive stance on collections without committing additional resources that you may not have. In Chaser, subject lines can automatically be personalized to every recipient, so you send effective, personalized collections emails that will get you paid sooner, without any time or effort.

From automatically scheduling follow-up emails to providing detailed reporting and analytics, Chaser streamlines the collections process and helps you get paid faster.

To find out more about how Chaser can improve your collections, book a demo with one of our experts today, or start your 14-day free trial now.

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