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Five Email Subject Lines That Need to Go the Way of the Dinosaurs
By: Elaine Reed
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While people debate whether or not email is dying, billions of messages are still sent every day. You would think that with literally billions of opportunities, email marketers would have perfected the art of the subject line. Sadly, email has either become so mainstream that companies don’t dedicate an experienced writer to develop their email copy, or we’ve all gotten a little lazy.

In an effort to remind marketers that the subject line should not be neglected, here are five subject lines that have been played out.

1. Do the Math
This subject line became especially popular after the 2008 primaries where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were battling for delegates. The Obama campaign created these messages to keep their supporters motivated. It’s a great marketing story. But listen. I don’t want to do the math. If I registered for your email, it’s because I figured you’d give me valuable information. Telling me I’m going to have to do work before I even open your email all but guarantees that I won’t open it. A better approach is: “We crunched the numbers so you could save (xx)”

2. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Christmas carols get stuck in my head every year. Getting songs stuck in my head is not going to remind or compel me to shop at your store or purchase your service. It’s going to annoy me and possibly distract me from other things. Like opening your email. Yes, the holiday season is supposed to be fun and playful. They are also terribly busy. Rather than doing a play on age-old pop culture, try a subject line that tells people how many days they have left to order gifts in time for Christmas. That helpful information may get you more conversions than anything else.

3. Leap into an Extra Day of Savings
Leap Day comes around every four years. In the last four years, this is the best you can do? Really? Email has been around for almost 20 years, giving marketers plenty of time to come up with something a little more clever. Yes, Leap Year is a great reason to offer a special sale or promotion. But how about approaching your subject line like any other marketing message? You can always add the Leap Year reference by including the date in the subject line. “Save even more on pogo sticks on February 29!”

4. RE: FW: Some generic title
I know which emails contain my ongoing conversations. And thanks to chain emails, I don’t open most messages that have FW in the subject line. Now that I know you think I’m dumb enough to fall for that trick, I don’t want to open your email. Don’t bow to this temptation.

5. The Perfect (blank) for Every (blank)
Yes, we all fit profiles and demographics, but when you create a subject line like this, you are eliminating parts of your email list. There are plenty of people who will claim they don’t fall into that category you’re highlighting. A better approach to this is to pose a question: “Is a (blank) right for you? We can help you find out.”

What email headlines routinely bother you? How would you fix them?

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About the Author
Elaine Reed is a marketing professional with heavy emphasis on e-commerce and Internet marketing. She blogs regularly on her website and tweets often.
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