Avoid Misleading and Deceptive Email Subject Lines

Using the Email Subject Line the right way.

Hook the attention of your customer with the email subject line. That’s step number one of email marketing, right? One of best ways to do that is to provide something useful or helpful to your customer, and over my years of email marketing I feel that one of the best ways to do this is through a reminder of a free gift, coupon, or sale of an item that you’ve shown interest in. What you don’t want to do, however, is to use misleading and deceptive email subject lines!

Here’s one example of an email subject line gone bad.

Example of Deceptive Subject Line

I got an email from Snapfish the other day telling me I had “Free Product Credits” waiting, I was all over it! Open that email! Here’s what the email showed when I opened it:

A misleading call to action from a deceptive subject line
Pretty good, right?!

Here’s the misleading part of the subject line

As intended, this email provided the needed incentive to go and create the new photo book I wanted to create, so I clicked on “Create free photo product” to see what I could create.

When the page loaded in the browser, however, I was sorely disappointed in what I found. Not only did the original email never tell me what the free credits were good for, the credits themselves were pretty lackluster.

  • Free 1-Month Video Subscription Trial
  • First hi-res photo FREE

Example of free products from Snapfish

Those were the two free credit offers. And mind you, that “hi-res photo” wasn’t a print or any physical product.

That’s it.

Don’t use deceptive subject lines. Period.

Was this a bait and switch? Not to the point where it harmed the customer or tricked me into buying something that I didn’t want, no. What Snapfish did do, however, was that Snapfish set high expectations for a premium reward. The body of the email shows three products, a calendar, a mug, and several photobooks. It’s easily assumed that the free product credits apply to a similar product. When the wool is removed from our eyes, however, we see that the product credits are for a trial and one free download of a photo we probably uploaded in the first place.

While I continue to order products from Snapfish, it’s examples like this that continue to show we have much to learn when it comes to marketing.