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7 reasons why we're not opening your emails

20th Nov 2014

Mastering the art of subject lines isn’t easy. With only 50 characters to play with, it’s tough choosing the right words to say. You’ve worked hours, even days crafting the perfect email, but write the wrong subject line and it’s straight to junk.

First impressions count in email marketing. Subject lines can’t be a last thought just before you click send. They require innovation, analysis and testing. What you consider creative genius may not be as popular with customers.

Here are a few no-nos to avoid. 

Over personalisation 

We’d be the first to say that personalisation makes great content. Write with your audience in mind and they’ll engage with it. However, subject lines are a different matter. Research suggests that users don’t react well to people using their names in subject lines – it’s a little too familiar. People feel like brands are crossing a line and a result, hit delete. 

study from MailChimp found that localised subject lines, with city names included for example, had greater success but still didn’t reach their potential. Lose the names and stick to the point. 

Asking for money

Don’t be too demanding; many charitable organisations have learnt this the hard way. Despite having honourable intentions, it only takes us a split second to decide whether we want to read an email or not, and if it’s asking for a favour (especially money) we tend to say no. 

Choose your words wisely to keep readers happy. Offer encouraging incentives that inspire them to open the email, read your content and respond. Subject lines exclaiming ‘donate – now!’ rarely have the impact they hoped.  

A study conducted by email experts Baydin found that there are certain words to avoid when creating a subject line, so steer clear. 


One way to deter customers from reading your emails is by shouting at them: CAPS LOCK NEVER WORKS. We’re happy you have a sale or new collection, we really are. But it’s never pretty seeing a caps-filled subject line. The quicker it’s out of our inbox, the better. 

Exclamation marks 

Similarly, don’t force-feed excessive punctuation to your customers!!!! We mean it!!! Whilst exclamation marks emphasise the message you’re trying to get across, many regard it as a classic sign of spammy content.  Keep punctuation to a minimum. 


We’ve all  succumbed to the temptation of clicking on titles like ‘21 Brutally Honest Instagrams,’‘26 Pictures Will Make You Re-Evaluate Your Entire Existence,,’’ A Comprehensive History Of Brad Pitt’s Hair...’ 

As excited as we are about Brad Pitt’s hair, we all know that the content won’t meet our expectations. Perhaps your favourite barnet missed the top spot? Clickbait has its way of luring you in and letting you down.

Don’t let your emails have the same effect. Granted, Buzzfeed has done exceedingly well from this type of content. But the difference is, users are actively searching for these articles; if you deliver subject lines in a similar style via email, it will feel like a spammy breach of trust and customers will just click delete. 

Too many characters

The key with subject lines is to be clear, succinct and to the point. Clutter the heading with too many characters and your message will be lost. If you’re offering your audience something worth reading, the content should sell itself – i.e. don’t try to stuff half of the email in your subject line! 

By being selective and concentrating on the important bits, you’ve a greater chance of retaining customer interest. MailChimp advise 50 characters or less. 

Spellings errors 

Errors in a subject line don’t inspire much confidence for the rest of the content. Remember to always triple check everything’s spelt correctly before hitting send. Simple mistakes can cost your brand click-throughs and conversions. 

If your business could benefit from a little added help in the email department, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of specialists.  You can drop us an email at or call for a quick chat on 0161 870 8194 – we’d love to hear from you!