Top 10 Worst Email Subject Lines

Since subject lines are the first (and in many cases only) aspect of your marketing emails that many possible leads will see, it’s impossible to oversell the importance of a good subject line. In many cases the “right” subject is very specific to you and your industry, but you will only know what truly works after lots of testing. But this isn’t about the best subject lines, it’s about the ones that don’t perform for business emails. Here are some examples of what not to do:

1. “Join us for a Free Event on June 7th!” – This subject line is vague. Nobody knows what event you are promoting, and in most cases, they might not even know what your company does. Try to be more specific.
2.  “Post-Seminar Follow-Up Meeting: Are You Making the Right Decision for Your Business’s Toner Needs?” – This is just an example, but far, far too long. Get to the point, if your potential customer’s mail client is truncating the subject lines, it’s too long!

3. “Last Minute Gift? Come See Us!” – Once again, too vague. Repetitive emails without too much content are going to get sent straight to the spam bin after the first or second time. Are you promoting something specific? Now would be a good time to send a marketing email.
4. “St. Paddy’s Day Sale: Shop Early and Save!” – Vague, vague, vague. Beware of promoting holiday sales: everybody else does it. You want your email to stand out!
5. “Gift Certificates: 10% Off With Coupon!” –  This type of email has historically low open rates unless paired with some verbiage to get the reader’s attention.
6. Now Offering (x) Services!” – What were you offering before? Why does this person care? Try to convey why x service is even more value.
7. “Win an iPad! Guaranteed!” – Like Viagra and iPods before it, mentioning free or cheap electronics (like iPads) is a good way to get sent to the spam folder. If this is the gist of your marketing, consider changing the focus if you want to see results.”
8. “Psst, (x company) is Offering Huge Savings!” – This smells like a used-car commercial. You should be respectful of your readership and be cognizant that people historically don’t respond to this type of marketing. It reads as very patronizing.
9. “Beautiful Lakefront Property” – Try to be broader. This may exclude the portion of your readership that doesn’t live near a lake. Why would an email having to do with lakefront property come to them?
10. “(your company) Announces New Business Partnership With (another company)” – Who cares? What does this mean for the customer or prospective customer?

As for subject lines from spam emails, I’m partial to these:

1. Buy Rolex Designer Watches Now
2. NEWSFLASH: Order your meds online

3. From the desk of barrister hollingsworth
4. Claim your $20m prize now!
5. Swell your P*^@%! (thanks @twopens2)
6. Open this now!
7. Improve Your Credit Score for Cheap
8. 5 Forbidden Foods to Tighten Your Belly
9. Buy Cialis Now
and one that I just got today:
10. Deal
That’s my list. What’s yours? Tweet me or message me with the best of your worst!

By Alec Wilcox

Follow me on:


Leave a Reply