The Worst Email Subject Line I’ve Ever Seen

I take great satisfaction when I can help an email marketer increase their open rates. Usually, the culprit is the email subject line. One stands out, not because of the success, but due to my abject failure. I was faced with the worst email subject line I’ve ever seen, and a customer that refused to change.

First, a little backstory. This particular client operated a night club. To promote his weekend events, he sent emails to his list. He worked hard for that list. He promoted his mailing list, but his mailing list was not promoting his club as well as he’d liked.

He came to me with a simple problem. His open rates were low. Very low. He wanted a technical solution. In those days, email deliverability was much easier. I looked for an easier answer, and I found it in his subject line. “Friday and Saturday.”

That’s the Worst Email Subject Line I’ve Ever Seen!

That’s right, his email subject line was “Friday and Saturday.” I looked back further. Every email he had sent had the subject line, “Friday and Saturday.”

I suggested that he consider punching up his email’s subject lines. Perhaps he could highlight the artist, or the DJ that’s performing that weekend.

“It’s always the same.”

In that case, perhaps you could promote specials, or events.

“It’s always the same.”

I tried.  I explained how the email subject line is a branding opportunity.

“That’s in the email address.”

I took a different tack. I explained how the subject line is a selling opportunity, and that it’s main purpose is to sell the contents of the email’s message. I explained how using branding, and variance in the subject line would immediately increase his open rates, and give him an opportunity to experiment for better performance.  He would have none of it. Nope.

He argued that his readers knew what to look for, because it never changed. He didn’t have time to change the email every time. Besides, he didn’t want to.

He didn’t want to do what it takes to increase his open rates.

When your email’s response translates to profits, you should take the time to punch up your subject line. Seriously. Throw your ego out the window for a moment. Is your email subject line all it can be? Does it have what it takes?

Bob’s Widget Company wants to send an email to promote the release of the EB309 Mark VI Widget. It does everything the previous models did, and more.  Not only that, but you can buy it in five different colors. (3 in the left-handed version, but we hope options can increase in the future.)

My client would have simply given the email a subject line of “EB309 Mark VI Widget” and moved on to the “more important” message body.

There’s nothing “more important” about your message body, if nobody reads it.

Let’s think about some subject lines we might be able to use instead. Even though Bob’s told us nothing about this widget we’re promoting for him, so we can’t tell everything in the subject line.  That’s okay, though. We don’t want to.

  • Bob’s New Widget is a Double-Rainbow of Excitement
  • Bob’s Bonus for Leftie Widgeteers
  • Is Bob’s New Widget Changing Everything?
  • Have You Ever Needed a Teal Widget?

The key is to have fun. Think about how you read your email.  When you open your inbox, you go through a process. You look for the important things.  You look for the things you read regularly. You scan the rest. What makes a message jump from “the rest” to you reading it? The Email Subject Line.

The REAL question is, what makes YOUR message jump from “the rest” to your customers reading it?

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