We live in a world where text on the internet can only survive if its subject line is flashy, catchy, and eye-popping. On one extreme end of this spectrum is clickbait; on the other is a bland, simply uninteresting title. The key for email marketers is to find the fine line between the two ends. Subject lines should be interesting enough to inspire some engagement — they should not, however, be blatant tricks designed only to garner clicks. Consumers smell inauthenticity from a mile away, and they won’t readily be fooled by an overdone subject line.

Telling the Reader They’re Missing Something

This example further stresses the importance of refraining from negative language in emails. A consumer does not want to be told what they do not know, and they definitely don’t want to be told what they do not have and desperately need. You may believe that your readers could benefit greatly from your product or service, and you may be right. But that sort of message depends subtlety; it certainly can not be stated outright.

According to Entrepreneur contributor Kimanzi Constable: “In this email, you’re told to point out where the person is ‘missing an opportunity’ in their business. These emails usually look like: ‘I noticed you only have 500 Facebook fans. You need to have at least 2,000 for people to respect your company.’ [Or:] ‘I noticed you’re not ranking on the first page of Google. Our company can get you on the front page and bring you thousands of new visitors.’ These types of emails sound helpful, but are actually very irritating to the person that receives them. You may have the best pitch in the world, but they’ll never do business with you because this makes the wrong first impression.”

Telling the Reader how much Money You’ve Made

Aside from the inescapable clickbait nature of subject lines boasting about vast earnings, the simple issue with this example is that the reader will assume the marketer is lying to them. Whether that’s true is irrelevant; all that matters is that consumer trust is now at risk.

Constable offers: “In this email, you go over the top showing the potential new customer the amazing results your product or service delivers. Once they see the results, they’ll be hitting that buy button before they even get done finishing the email. This email usually looks like: ‘Learn how I made one million dollars in 30 days using this no-hype formula.’ This email doesn’t work because they won’t believe you. There have been some unscrupulous Internet marketers who’ve made it hard to believe these claims.”

“I Have a Quick Question”

Once again, this email title screams clickbait. It might have been decently acceptable during the earliest days of email marketing, but it’s now a universally recognized cliche. While curiosity might swing you in the favor of a marginal portion of subscribers, the vast majority of them will row their eyes and click delete.

Constable writes: “In this email you’re told to convince the person that you have some quick information that will blow their mind. The subject line is designed to be “click bait. This email usually looks like: ‘I just want to ask you a quick question. How would you like to make more money than you thought possible?’ You may not say money but insert some cheesy line that people see right through. The problem is, once the person realizes what’s going on, they will delete the email and never do business with you. A wise man once said, ‘be direct, people don’t have time to entertain games.’

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