The days of seeing that “You’ve got Mail” message pop up and feeling excitement are long over. Looking at our email inbox with sheer and utter delight to find out what we are missing out on or what happened in the news is a thing of the past. And your email subscribers feel the exact same way -
To put it bluntly, email has turned in to an activity done with a caution flag hanging in the background. As readers quickly scan subject lines, one hand is always on the delete button.
Pretty harsh words coming from an email marketer -
Unfortunately it’s all true.
Email inboxes are so cluttered with boring, unappealing messages that writing about the worst email subject lines is not a hard task. In fact, this is just a sampling…
What Makes a Bad Email Subject Line?
A bad email subject contains a few elements, as seen in the examples above.
- First, a bad subject line is vague. Vague subject lines started popping up a few years ago with the intention of making it more intriguing. The subject is not clearly defined, so the reader will click on it to find out what’s going on. These days readers are much more savvy. Vague subject lines just don’t get opened anymore.
- A bad subject line is unbelievable, outrageous or far-fetched. While it’s true that we all want to make big money, an unbelievable claim lowers your credibility with your customer. Even if your customer was to open this email message, they would instantly see that it is for a once-in-a-lifetime, buy it now or miss the big money, product. Big numbers are great, if they are within the scope of what you have been teaching and sending out to your customers. Outrageous claims are in bad taste and create distrust.
- Another characteristic of a bad email subject line is trying to sell a product. As you see in this subject…
Offering something as a gift is great. Unfortunately, selling in the subject line sets the reader up for a pitch. And most of the time, readers want to avoid being sold to, so they’ll do something that what will avoid the confrontation entirely – they won’t open it at all.
- Another element of a bad email subject line is conveying unclear time sensitivity. There are an endless supply of “Get this NOW” type messages without any clarification on what it is that’s ending soon. A course might be “ending soon,” but if the subject does not clearly express exactly what is ending soon, then it will get breezed over.
- And finally, an outright lie. “Your purchase confirmation…” The first time you send one of these lines out, you may get a lot of opens, which is good, right? – But just watch what happens after they open… The unsubscribe numbers will go up too. Blatantly lying to readers just for the sake of getting them to open your email is a bad idea. Not only does it make them distrust you, but they may spread the word on this deceitful action. Yikes!
Go from Bad to Good
The single, most important function of an email subject line is to get the recipient to click to open it.
BUT, sincerity, trust and reputation are incredibly important to a reader who has given you their email address. And in most cases, once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
In the next post, we’ll shift gears to the good stuff – The Best Email Subject Lines!
Disclaimer: These are all actual email subject lines unedited from my inbox – obviously no names will be revealed.