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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 15-Sep-13


Sunday 15-September-13

Email spam and subject titles

So imagine your job is to write the subject title for emails that are going to be sent out to a big list of people. What kind of wording should you use? Here's just a few recent examples of the endless spam that pours into my intray, plus some observations.

Autumn Clearance -- Everything Must Go!

This was an email from a basic online retailer (not Amazon, but someone similar). The message hopes to gain trust as it mimics the type of sign you may see in a bricks-and-mortar shop window, perhaps making you think of the security of local shops in contrast with the unknown aspects of many internet companies. It situates itself in time with a broad brush ('Autumn' not just 'this week'). 'Everything must go' is a kind of trick that leads you to presume they are offering very low prices just to get rid of stock.

I recognized the brand and browsed into this, to see if there was anything I wanted at a price I couldn't miss (there wasn't).

David, Recover Your Money!

Ah, cash, dosh, lolly, dollars, money! Always good to trigger greed. This one from a 'you can claim money with our help (and we'll take a cut, of course'. Notice that it knows who I am. Names, of course, are very powerful, although if permission is not really given it can be both spooky and off-putting. Using the first name in particular in some cultures can be annoying. I live in the UK and we like a certain formalism.

I just deleted this without further ado. I hate ambulance chasers and all their ilk. Nobody is out to get you money for nothing.

Spend less and get even more server power

This was from my web hosting company, so I did browse it. The title 'spend less' is more restrained, though it does talk about 'spending' rather than 'saving'. The 'even more' also presumes I've got a lot already, so maybe I don't need more (so this didn't help). In the content of the message it is more polite, using my surname rather than the familiar first name. It summarises the offer as 'Your benefits at a glance'. Another neat one is the use of the word 'power', which we'd all like in not just our servers.

Hmm. Maybe I'll look further at this, though the 'save up to ?120 in the first year' implies the actual cost is much more. I'm also put off by low-start schemes as I decide using long-term costs.

This will help you

Who knows where this was from. Rather a vague title, don't you think? This is trying to use a 'catch-all' statement as most people would like some form of help, and although it puts me off, it can certainly work with others. Maybe also being innocuous, it invites you to find out what on earth it's all about. Note how it says 'will' in an assertive way, rather than 'can'. This seems rather pushy to me, but many people are easily pushed. 'You' is a power word and, as the last word, adds further impact. The content, however, is sloppy and rambles about how they can help my health if I just click on this one 'Read now!' link.

Eeek! No way!!

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