45 Words to Avoid in Your Email Marketing Subject Lines

Email subject lines
There’s an art to writing a good email subject line and there are some things you’ll want to avoid.

Consulting a number of experts and sources, in addition to some research, here is a list of words (plus the odd phrase or experimental bit of text) to avoid when composing the perfect marketing email.

Your subject line is the most important part of your email campaign. 100% of your audience will see it, whether or not they open your email.

Here are some suggestions:

Free 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.

According to MailChimp…
Help, % off and reminder are regularly discarded.

Anything too ‘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.

Refrain from using tired slang like LOL, amazeballs, WTF, derp, FTW, epic fail, epic win, cray-cray, totes, adorbs.

Adding ‘Fwd:’ or ‘Re:’ to trick your ready into thinking this is part of an ongoing conversation only creates distrust.

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.

Video, news and bulletin do work well though.

Personalization 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.

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

[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.

Remember that symbols appear in some email clients but not others. It may just be a waste of time.

What subject lines work best for you?

Take your email marketing to the next level. Call Lori at 877.447.0134.

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