The Email Subject Line Hall Of Shame

Email marketing, when executed correctly, can be extremely effective in reaching your audience and motivating them to respond in a particular way. But your email must be opened and read first, and one of the first lines of defense against a bounced or unopened email is a well-crafted subject line.

The subject line is more than a “headline” to your email. It is the key to getting through spam filters, which are notorious for degrading the ROI of your campaign.

Here are the stars of the “Subject Line Hall of Shame” and how your emails can avoid being just like them:

1. Everything you need to know about this email is in the subject line, so open it now and read.

At 92 characters long this subject line is likely to get cut off in most email clients, and has a high probability of being blocked by a content-based spam filter. Think about how you write a personal email. The subject line is usually just enough to convey importance, urgency, seriousness, or humor. It should act as an attention-getter, not a summary of the message.

We recommend subject lines be 35 characters max.


This email looks so spammy, your filter can’t wait to block it from being delivered. All-caps are an immediate giveaway that the email is a poorly-crafted message that needs to SHOUT to be heard, or it was written by that guy in a foreign country who has $5,000,000 waiting to be deposited into your account. JUST SEND HIM YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER TO GET RICH.

Do not use all-caps.

3. Tips are a tipoff

If I wanted your advice I would have asked for it, so this email must be junk. Here’s a tip: tell me what the benefit is to me in the subject line and I’ll be motivated to read the email. Otherwise, I’ve got 20 other emails in my inbox that have identified themselves as requiring action.

Tips are too passive to be effective, and unsolicited advice is rude.

4. $ave Money!! Act Now!!

Benefit driven? Check. Short? Check. Upper and lower case? Check. Spam? Definitely, according to your filter. Spam filters look for symbols like exclamation points and misused dollar signs in subject lines. And “save money” is such a blind benefit that the reader will wonder how for about 1 second before they delete the email.

“Save money on your cable bill” or “Save money on groceries” focus the reader’s attention better because these kinds of lines communicate real, tangible benefits.

Keep Your Website Up To Speed

Your website must download as fast as your competition. Typical shoppers expect websites to download in 2 seconds. That's down from 4 seconds in 2007. Research from a leading search engine reveals that a delay of 2 seconds results in a:

• 1.8% reduction in queries

•3.75% drop in clicks

• 4.3% loss in revenue per visitor

Slow load times have a significant harmful effect on sales revenues.

Landing Page Essentials

When prospects click on an email, banner ad or other teaser copy, take them to a landing page.

It elaborates on the teaser's promises and adds incentive to continue to your site. A good landing page:

• Graphically resembles the banner ad or item clicked. Same fonts, color, and logos. The key is consistency across all platforms.

• Captures the prospect's contact information.

• Has your organization's email, phone, address, and other ways to contact you.

The landing page is a vital connection between your ads and your website. It's the pathway to better web performance.

TWEET: Mobile food trucks coming to you?

Where are you?” a follower tweets to the cupcake fan page.

A responsive mobile cupcake truck posts on Twitter and Facebook, pinpointing their current Chicago Loop location along with a “10 more minutes” message. That means this sweet treat will be mine! … As long as they haven’t sold out or have yet to drive to the next location.

Chicago customers are starting to embrace the food truck movement: a novelty in Chicago. In cities like Los Angeles, New York and Austin, mobile food trucks continue to thrive and serve tacos, sandwiches or desserts.

Combined with social media updates available on a desktop or smartphone, food trucks create buzz and urgency to get these tasty items while supplies last. Customers like the spontaneity, curbside convenience and affordable bites. It’s a positive for the business also to expand their audience and create more jobs.

Navigating the mobile food business has been challenging for many entrepreneurs. Currently the tight Chicago laws allow only pre-cooked and packaged food that was prepared in a licensed kitchen to be sold on a food truck. This is unlike other cities where food must be prepared on board the mobile food facility only.

A food truck ordinance was proposed to the City Council late July, so hopefully by mid-late Fall, more food trucks will be on the road. Many consider Chicago a culinary destination and even big-name chefs are supporting the mobile food truck trend. For foodies and those who like cheap eats, let’s hope there’s even more food trucks coming to a street near you. And while you’re in Chicago, may your toughest decision around lunch be: which food truck do I purchase food from today?

TWO TIP: Best Opt-In Words

Call to action copy for opt-in e-mail should consider not using terms like "Subscribe to," or "Register for." Some readers will infer that there's a financial obligation due or a fee for service.

"Sign up for" copy is better because it's friendly without suggesting a commitment.

"Join" makes prospects feel that they are part of a group entitled to special benefits. "Exclusive Offer" subject lines should appeal to these people too.