Sometimes You Need a Boring Subject Line

This email message below arrived in my inbox shortly after sending out my weekly small business event listing (for Halifax, Nova Scotia). I love it when instant blog posts arrive by email.

Hello Linda
I’ve been getting emails from you for a couple of years and, sorry to say, I’ve always ignored them. Here are two reasons:
1— your subject line is boring. I get lots of emails like these but only open the ones with an interesting subject, e.g. “How to fight your phone fear” or “Learn web design in our latest WordPress meet-up.”
2— There is no website that collects these items in an easy to scan format. As a WordPress developer I can set you up with a terrific visual calendar that can easily talk to your personal appointment book.
We can talk about improving your business any time.

It was a well-intentioned message; here was my response:

The subject line is boring on purpose – you can easily ignore it if you’re not interested in knowing about events. I’m not into getting people to open something they don’t want to read. It’s a strategy that’s quite different from the one I use for my blog and monthly newsletter. Three times in 4 years I’ve experimented with the subject line of the event listing, and every time the open rate dropped. People who want the listing are used to the title and might miss it otherwise.

Every type of email campaign needs its own strategy, which comes from your goals and intentions. There is very little advice about email marketing that applies to every situation.

It’s also nice to get emails like this, which followed the one above:

Hi Linda,
Dropping a note to say “thank you” for your Small Business Event List. It’s great having all the goings-on sent to me every week, and very much appreciated.

Meeting expectations means people know what to, well, expect. Exceeding them has the potential to confuse. Sometimes boring is better.