How Not to Write Email Marketing Subject Lines

In my last post, I talked about how not to do email marketing.

This time round I want to look at the subject lines that you use when sending out your emails.

They are the first thing your recipients see, so it’s essential they have the right impact.

Rather than launching into a lengthy post I’ll get straight to the point by listing below a quick run down of 8 top things that should be avoided.

1. Getting personal

Addressing the recipient by name within the email is a great idea, but don’t also personalise the subject line, especially if you’re sending your emails to a ‘cold’ list.

Of course, in a an ideal world you wouldn’t be sending emails to a bunch of people who haven’t opted in to your mailing schedule.  But having their name in the subject line is often seen as a step too far and can look spammy.

2. Asking for money

This one is mainly aimed at charities.

Granted, you have fundraising targets to hit (not to mention a great cause to support), but research by MailChimp suggests that asking for money in your subject line (either using the words donate, helping or fundraising) will lower your click through rate. Obviously, words such as ‘help, ‘helping’ and ‘fundraising’ can be used in contexts other than those directly related to asking for cash, just be careful how you use them.

3. Limited offers

You already know that limiting your offers by number or time is a great way to encourage people to buy. But it would appear that by using a term such as ‘last chance’ in your subject line really cheeses people off. You’ll need to find a different way of getting that across such as ‘the clock’s ticking’ perhaps.

4. Capital idea

This is one of my pet hates.

Why do people think I’ll take more notice of their email if their subject line is in capital letters?

The same goes for exclamation marks. Both scream spam, so don’t use them.

5. Failing words

There are some words that just seem to switch people off emails: join, speaker, press, social, invite and assistance are just a few.

Why are they such a turn off? Perhaps because they don’t overtly offer the recipient anything obvious of value?

6. Be vague

If you want someone to open or act upon your email you have to be specific.

Using a vague subject line won’t inspire anyone to open your email, but if it’s concise and to the point, it will.

7. Length

More and more people are viewing their emails on smart phones, so it’s never been more important to keep your subject lines concise. Make sure they are no longer than 20 – 30 characters.

8. No tricks

You’ve probably already seen this type of email; they are the ones that use the prefix FW: or RE: in the subject line to try and create the illusion of familiarity.

It’s downright spammy and people won’t be fooled.


Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd


Related Posts with Thumbnails


There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment