It’s not you. It’s your subject line.
We here at NEWT send our clients emails all the time, letting them know about new feature releases, feature upgrades, new products, company info, stuff like that. Basically what we’re sending them is information that will benefit them and their business, and our biggest concern/problem is, we’re sending it by email.
Meaning, a lot of what we consider valuable information is going unread.
Email is the oldest digital marketing methods there is. It’s the granddaddy of everything else, and yet it remains the most effective. Why? Because it’s not passive like Twitter, LinkedIn or Google ad words. Email is permission-based. The people on email lists have given the go-ahead to send them messages. Somewhere along the line that have bought in. And, with the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, they’re always listening. In fact, email is the number-one activity for people on their phones.
The downside? Since we’re all being inundated all the time, there’s that pesky open rate. The first line of defense a client has is the first thing they see. Below is a portion of fantastic post from Econsultancy, (you can read the whole thing here) on the do’s and don’t of how to handle an email subject line. It’s the most important part of any email you are sending out to customers because it’s the #1 determinant of them clicking on it, or letting it go.

Econsultancy has compiled this list of words (plus the odd phrase or experimental bit of text) that you should avoid when composing the perfect killer marketing email.

sweet_nigerian_prince-blog-200 Why no one is opening your company Email

Selling without selling

Free: this tends to trigger spam filters, especially if you’re a company that hasn’t been mixing up its marketing messages and bombarding your recipient’s in-box with repetitive offers.

Also according to MailChimp…

Help% off and reminder are regularly discarded.

Basically anything too outwardly ‘salesy’ doesn’t work: “shop early and save 10%” or “holiday sales event” are failures.

Just describe the content of your email in the most straightforward and concise manner possible, without making it sound like an advertisement. Try ‘newsletter’ or ‘promotion’ instead, thereby rewarding your recipients with a discount after opening.

According to Adestra, save, today and don’t miss are lousy for triggering opens too.

Last chance: people hate to think they’re missing out on an opportunity they’ve already been emailed about.


Mailchimp has found that donate is a big loser for open rates. Help and assistance are also to be avoided. However in slightly more heart-warming news, fundraising is fine.


Using numbers may help quantify your message, but constant sales and promotion emails can lead to fatigue. Mix it up as much as you can.

Tiresome internet slang

If it hasn’t dated already, chances are somewhere and for someone, it already has: LOL, amazeballs, WTF, derp, FTW, epic fail, epic win, cray-cray, totes, adorbs…

I have so may negative feels towards the above.

Deceptive familiarity

FWD: and RE: the artificial adding of ‘Fwd:’ or ‘Re:’ to trick you into thinking this is part of an ongoing conversation you’re engaged with already only creates distrust.



Content marketing

According to Adestra, content marketing headlines that use report (-23.7% opens, -54.8% CTR) and webinar (-16.6%, -70.7%.) fail to live up to expectations. As do the words book and learn, you uneducated lot.

Video, news and bulletin do work well though.

Erroneous personalisation

Personalisation means nothing if your data isn’t correct and you don’t have 100% confidence in it.

“Paul check out these amazing offers!” when my name is Christopher, or even worse “[test] check out these amazing offers!”

In fact using a person’s name doesn’t really impact the open rate anyway, and can come across as needy or begging.

Punctuation shame corner

All of these…

  • Exclamation marks – the more the less I want to open it.
  • Smiley faces – or emoticons or emojis or anything with a face in fact.
  • Stars, squiggles, indistinct shapes – basically anything that isn’t actual text.
  • Hearts – bleuggh!

[Putting anything in square brackets] or <these guys> immediately makes you think there’s been a coding error.

Although just to add balance, I did learn that travel site Travelocity achieved a 10.7% lift in unique opens by using a little airplane in its subject line. Which proves that relevancy to content and uniqueness is imperative to proper symbol use.

However, just remember that symbols appear in some email clients but not others. It may just be a waste of time anyway.

Plus it’s annoying.


Awesome: Just stop using it. Everywhere. At all times.

I could probably end this article with a torrent of of all the different swear words I know, but being as I have no proof that these would negatively impact open rates, it wouldn’t be scientifically correct to do so.

Helpful? Hope so. For us, we want our customers to get the information they need, and having something as silly as a poorly worded subject line get in the way is more than just annoying. It’s bad for business.