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7 Email Subject Lines They’ll Never Open

I get a lot of marketing email, and I see variations of these ineffective subject lines all the time. Some of these subject lines may even surprise you. Here’s why they don’t work, and notice the simple ways you can fix them right now.

1. Newsletter

“Newsletter” is a really common word in my inbox. Only people who already have a strong interest in the organization or business are likely to open an email with this subject line. Instead, people open emails featuring topics that interest them. If you can appeal to a current problem, struggle, goal, or vision, people will open your email way more often.

The key here is to choose a topic that your readers can buy into. They need to believe that you might have a solution they haven’t yet tried. Consider the things you do best. If you want to share a newsletter with multiple topics, try highlighting one or two of them in the subject line. The preview area is also a great place to tease your content.

2. Why You Need My Program

Consider the extremely high level of trust it would take for you to believe that you probably need whatever my program of the month happens to be. In this example, you have no idea what the program or event actually is. Or, if some variation on this subject line contains a branded program name, you are probably not at all convinced that you need it, or even that you need to open the email. Unless the program name involves a major concern that your clients have, it probably won’t grab their attention.

Instead, entice your reader with some interesting bit about the program. You could mention a result of the program that they feel they need now. If you’re promoting an event, be sure to highlight fun or interesting panelists, speakers, or activities.

3. Urgent: Read Now

You might get some limited life out of this one. In the process though, you risk eroding your readers’ trust.

If you have real urgency, you can mention that. Examples might be “Happening Tomorrow,” “Five Spots Left,” or “Last Chance: Act Before Midnight.” Be sure not to overuse these though. I’m on one list that’s constantly sending emails about how I’m going to miss out, or I’ve almost missed out, or how it really is my last chance, for real this time.

4. Hello

I appreciate when marketers seek out genuine conversations. The trouble is that too many strangers, and even spammers, use this subject line.

Instead, put something meaningful in your subject line and expand on that in your preview area. Don’t let your ideal clients pass you by, simply because they weren’t expecting your friendly email.

5. Breaking News

This one crosses over into headline territory as well. The trouble is that what may be breaking news to you might seem very everyday to your readers. Consider how your breaking news affects them right now, and I’m not talking about sales here. It isn’t breaking news to them that your latest client just earned however much money, or lost lots of weight, or won an award.

Instead, consider the breaking news in a client’s or reporter’s world. Forget the “breaking” announcement. Let the news speak for itself. For example, if a new law goes into effect tomorrow that will drastically change your client’s business, that’s highly urgent to them.

6. Using the Company Name as the Subject

Loyal followers might be interested the moment they see your company name. Everyone else? Not so much.

Instead, use your customer knowledge to enter their world. Some of the best subject lines show your customers that you have what they need in the moment.

7. Work from Home

I’m including this one as an example of the many subject lines that sound like potential scams. Offers of working at home in earning extra income are so rampant as to be meaningless.

If you have a legitimate opportunity that’s virtual, remote, or online, include these details in the description. Let the focus be the position or duties performed.

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  1. These are really great tips! Thanks for sharing. Another one that I kind of get tired of seeing is the “oops…” line. I’ve received a few too many emails with that subject line and it’s annoying. I find it’s a gimmick to get you to open the exact same email they already sent you.

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