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  • August 26, 2011

AM Inbox: "That trains people to distrust your future subject lines"

The Retail Email Blog monitors the email marketing campaigns of more than 100 top online retailers. Here are highlights from my inbox this morning:


Lowe’s, 8/25 — Take Your Grilling Expertise on the Road

Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports has been thinking about subject lines and so have I recently. Mark says, “You don’t want subject lines that lift interest and expectations, only to shatter them with the actual content. That trains people to distrust your future subject lines.” I wholeheartedly agree. Last Friday Chadwicks’ use of “Oops!” in the subject line of a non-apology email had me concerned about expectation setting (see Aug. 22 AM Inbox) and this email from Lowe’s had me similarly concerned.


“Take Your Grilling Expertise on the Road” sets the expectation that the email is about grilling and…maybe something about traveling. But when you open the email, the primary message is about discounts on major appliances and none of the above-the-fold submessages are about grilling either. The larger below-the-fold message blocks also aren’t about grilling. After my initial scan of this email I was on my way to logging this email into my next Oopsy Hall of Fame, but then I gave it a closer look and finally saw the message block about portable grills. It’s one of the smallest message blocks in the email, which begs the question: Why is the subject line about grills? Or perhaps: Why isn’t the primary message block about grilling? Or: Why isn’t the grilling message block positioned as a strong secondary message?


Perhaps the misdirection on the subject line caused folks like me to give the whole email a closer look, leading to more engagement with the email. But tricks like this disrespect subscribers’ time and perform at the expense of trust. There’s a ton of noise in subscribers’ inboxes and you should always strive to be the signal that they are on the lookout for.


Click to view this Aug. 25, 2011 Lowe’s email full-sized


SUBJECTIVITY SCANNER: Select noteworthy subject lines

Old Navy, 8/25 — Superfan Nation Team Gear + Save 30% Only In Stores

Linens ’n Things, 8/25 — Back to School Savings over 40%

Barnes & Noble, 8/25 — Everyone's a Winner -- You Could Save Up to 50% Off One Item!

Ann Taylor, 8/25 — Just In: More New Fall Styles + Shop Our Lookbook!

Montgomery Ward, 8/25 — Sweet Dreams...deluxe bedding for your retreat

Cooking.com, 8/25 — Pre-Order Paula's New Signed Cookbook Today!

Coldwater Creek, 8/25 — The Perfect Cover

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BROWSE... Archive / Post Categories / Selling Seasons / Topics Covered / Retailers Tracked

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