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  • January 16, 2008

Subject Line Hall of Fame: 2007 Inductees

Welcome to RetailEmail.Blogspot’s second annual inductions into the Subject Line Hall of Fame, which honors retailers whose subject lines stand out in the inbox because of their creativity and originality. A great subject line can mean the difference between an opened email and a deleted one—in fact, JupiterResearch says 35% of email users open messages because of what's contained in the subject line. While mentioning a fantastic deal in a subject line can generate great open rates, you may not always have outstanding deals to tout. Creativity in 60 characters or less can give your emails the edge. After reading more than 9,500 retail emails during 2007, here are my picks for the most outstanding subject lines:

5. Abercrombie & Fitch, 11/29 — Be Naughty Or Nice In A&F Fleece.
This subject line conveys youthful promiscuity with some Christmas flair—perfectly in line with A&F’s brand image.

4. RedEnvelope, 5/11 — Shop now for Mother's Day or pay until 2008.
We’re all familiar with the “pay nothing until [insert date here]” language used in many promotions. RedEnvelope plays off of this language to promoting their Mother’s Day goods with this cautionary subject line. (Who doesn’t fear their mother’s wrath/passive aggressiveness?) I actually did a double-take when I first read it. It really got my attention.

3. Gap, 10/24 — Can the Shirt off Your Back Change the World?
Punning on “I’d give you the shirt off my back,” Gap immediately projects generosity and compassion—and appeals to subscribers’ senses of both on a grand scale. Urging subscribers to get involved in something big, the email promotes the limited edition (2 Weeks) (Product) Red t-shirt. It explains that contributions from this tee are equivalent to the average cost of 2 weeks of medicine that will enable people living with HIV to lead healthy, normal lives.

2. Crate & Barrel, 10/22 — What holiday tables are wearing...plus Free Shipping
This subject line mixes some personification with a spin on “It’s what all the cool kids/fashionable people/etc. will be wearing” to bring social fashion anxiety to tableware. It plays on consumers’ insecurities and vanity, and begs the question: Is my holiday table nice enough or will I look silly?

1. RedEnvelope, 6/4 — Why man discovered fire.
This subject line uses one manly archetype—Neanderthals—to promote another slightly more modern archetype of manliness—grilling. It’s short, direct, intriguing and a great way to promote grill-related Father’s Day gifts.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Urban Outfitters, 11/23 — Step away from the leftovers: Free Shipping Ends Monday!
A mix between an intervention and the cops busting down your door and yelling, “Drop the drumstick, you creep!”, this witty subject line fits Urban Outfitters brand image and is a nice way of promoting their after-Thanksgiving sale.

RedEnvelope, 1/23 — Gifts for the guy with a one-track mind.
This email promoted Valentine’s Day gifts for men, although they weren’t nearly as salacious as the subject line implied.

Bluefly, 12/30 — Best Supporting Accents: Handbags & Accessories Up to 40% Off
This email promoted handbags and accessories with a nice pun on award season.

MLB, 4/24 — Bring your team home.
This email promoted their home and office collection with this creative double meaning that will be clear to all baseball fans.

Neiman Marcus, 7/22 — FREE SHIPPING + The hottest new dress designer is:
Urban Outfitters, 11/5 — V Is For...

Several retailers tried this “cliff hanger”-type subject line last year, but these two really stood out. While Neiman’s goes for straight curiosity, Urban Outfitters is more playful and lets your mind run a bit. When you clickthrough you discover that the email is promoting V-neck styles. Clearly with these kinds of subject lines you have to be careful not to abuse your patience of your subscribers, who generally like subject lines to be pretty descriptive, so these should be use very sparingly.

If you feel that I’ve unfairly left out a deserving subject line, please comment on this post and include the retailer, date of the email and the subject line. RetailEmail.Blogspot only covers the top online retailers, but feel free to include subject lines from other retailers in your comments. Thanks, and congrats again to this year’s inductees.

Want more subject line inspiration? Check out the Subject Line Hall of Fame: 2006 Inductees. Also look at the Outstanding Subject Lines section of each Season Finale.

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