Email marketing - subject line winners and losers

It's Tuesday, and so far this week I've had 368 emails to my Gmail. Yes, I appreciate that I'm not unique or special in being selected for the barrage of daily email traffic, but in terms of making me feel like I want to read any of them, most aren't hitting the sweet spot.

We're all experiencing email fatigue, as we receive more and open less, so how do you get people to want to read your email? After all, you've worked hard on the messages, the promotion, the call to action, but quite frankly - not hard enough.

The deciding factor can often be the subject line. These days it's not just got to be good, it's got to be VERY creative to provide that essential hook to get people in (think wit, think intrigue, think clever). Yes, it's a tall order to combine all of those factors to produce the '007' of emails. But if you're going to use email marketing as a tool to attract customers and new prospects, you need to do it consistently really well.

So here it is, my list of the best and the worst emails that I've received so far this year. Take note of the sensationally SPAMMY, the cleverly sublime and the wondrously witty.

Let's start on a high note by presenting the winners....

The Winners

  1. We know what you've done Waking up to this one first thing in the morning after a Netflix marathon of 'How to get away with murder' the previous night did NOT help my nervous disposition. Did I open the email? Yep.

  2. Our thank you – a free pudding Ok, so it was never going to set the world alight, but the promise of a free pud in return for giving some quick feedback? A no-brainer. A small 'thank you' can go a long way. Bang goes the diet.

  3. Did you get the confirmation email? Hmm, yes I did. Did I forget to open it and click the link to activate my registration, also yes. Putting questions in email subject lines can work really well, and act as a gentle reminders for people to get their life admin in order *cough*.

  4. Nine reasons to smile (ear to ear) I love this subject line because it's clever and also targeted at ME. I purchased earrings from this company a month ago, and they've applied a little thought and TLC before sending me another email. Targeted marketing WORKS. Know your audience before you send them a generic 'one size fits all' email.

  5. Do This Before Tomorrow Night or It Will Be Too Late… Ooo mystery and intrigue! Do what? This email was from a late break company, enticing me to book before an offer expired. I didn't opt for their recommendation of a golf break in Scotland, (again knowing your audience is par for the course, no pun intended). Oh and I've never been interested in golf.

  6. ​Just in (clothes, not Bieber) This is a winner purely because it made me smile (just to confirm, I am not a Belieber). It does what it says on the tin - new clothing to look at, with a dash of humor thrown in for good measure.

The Losers

  1. Holidays Under £100 and an EXTRA 10% off! Nothing more uplifting than getting a holiday discount offer email AFTER you have booked your holiday. They weren't to know, right? Well I booked with 'said holiday company' so yes they were. Customer information is powerful stuff. Use it to your advantage.

  2. Open me! Discount codes inside… Meh, really? Wow I've never had an email promising discount codes before... Uninspiring to say the least.

  3. My Beard Care Products Unless this was a practical joke, I'm not feeling the love with this email asking me about my (male) personal grooming habits

  4. Get ready for something new Here we go again, a promise of 'something' new but with no warm call to action making me want to open the email. Are we done yet? Oh yes one more....

  5. D&S Perfumery Newsletter I'm not a fan of having 'newsletter' in a subject line. Again this gives me zero reason to open the email and tells me nothing about the WIFM (what's in it for me)

That's my weekly round up of good and bad email subject lines. Remember that if you like to play it safe, then email marketing probably isn't the forum to do it in. Also, a key takeaway is that subject lines can be tested and made variable, so you don't need to put all of your emails in one basket.

If you have some corkers to share, then please do. And if you REALLY want to create emails that work, get in touch.

Call - 07824 447464

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