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The importance of an enticing subject line

The importance of an enticing subject line

As I opened up my email this morning, I was faced with a page of messages with a huge variety of subject lines. I use an email provider that automatically separates out the emails into ‘primary’, ‘social’ and ‘promotions’ and I was looking at the ‘promotions’ tab. Some of them just got deleted straight away without even looking at them. Others prompted me to think a bit harder before deleting them, and inspired this article.

These ones got deleted immediately …

  • £1 next day delivery and up to 50% off your favourite brands
  • Jane, get the look!
  • Jane, top sold and top watched items on eBay


These ones caught my attention … not necessarily for positive reasons!

  • Sorry to disturb you
  • We think you’d make a fantastic seller
  • Our lovely garden, wild garlic and gluten free beer


The ones that got deleted held no interest for me … but if I was an avid shopper, they might have done.

I thought ‘Sorry to disturb you’ was very weak – why start off with an apology before anyone’s even opened the email? If you’re really ‘sorry to disturb me’ why are you bothering? This one’s just too apologetic for my liking, but I did open it for the purposes of this article!! It was asking for feedback on a recent purchase. Evidently they wanted to acknowledge the fact that people find it arduous filling in surveys – but apologising for it doesn’t make it any less arduous. It would have been much better to say something more positive and energetic like “We’re excited to know what you think!” That way, they’re including that important word ‘you’ in the title which makes it relevant to me.

For that reason, ‘We think you’d make a fantastic seller’ made a good headline. It’s flattering, and intriguing enough for me to open the email. Why do they think that? What have I done?

The last one ‘Our lovely garden, wild garlic and gluten free beer’ was a bit discordant – what an odd collection of items! Gluten free beer probably has a limited appeal, wild garlic creates a pungent image that clashes with the idea of a floral, fragrant garden. It didn’t work for me. However, if it had said ‘Come and enjoy a drink in our lovely garden’ it would have been more compelling. They could have talked about the wild garlic and gluten free beer in the body of the article. In actual fact, the article talked about the fact they have re-built and transformed their garden, and they have a selection of craft beers (including gluten free). ‘Come and see what we’ve done to the garden – sunnier, brighter and more spacious’ would also work.

What’s the answer?

The point is, you can’t make all your emails appeal to all your recipients. But you can draw out the benefits – the purpose of the subject line is to get them to open the email in the first place. Then you can give them the full lowdown. By making the subject line relevant to them, you’ve got a much better chance of being noticed.

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