Email marketing has become exceedingly difficult. Spam boxes, poor quality lists, and an increasingly cautious public have combined to make the once simple task of reaching consumers through email into an epic and nearly unnavigable maze that most marketers have all but given up on.
The solution? Get creative. There are legitimate and effective ways to accomplish the seemingly herculean task of marketing via email, for example: content curation, subject line optimization, machine learning, or scaling email information collection (we made that last one up)…
But these take work. For some, this is just too much work, so they find other, let’s say, more ‘creative’ ways. Horrible, terrible, lowest common denominator ways. Or, to coin a phrase, spamming bastard ways.
Here are a few of our favorite subject lines that are from actual emails we’ve received in the last week. Because, if we can’t unite and make fun of spammers, what good are we to the world?
1. “Hide Your Children!” (Or, better yet, go shopping)
Any responsible parent who receives an email from an organization called “Amber Child Safety” warning them that there is a sexual predator “currently operating” in their area would probably want to know more, right?
Imagine their surprise when they click on the link offering information about “Who they are, where they live, and how you can protect your family”, only to be immediately redirected to a website called “Shopper’s Dream”, which contains no information whatsoever about sexual predators or child safety issues.
While we have no data on exactly how many of these spammed, concerned parents purchased products from Shopper’s Dream, it is safe to say that the numbers were pretty low. Booooooooooooo.
2. “You have been fined for speeding.” (Want to buy some drugs?)
Photo radar cameras. Quite possibly the most annoying technological development of the past 20 years (other than those fake people who add you on LinkedIn). Not only do you have to pay a fine, you usually can’t even remember committing the offense…
Generally, notifications of such fines arrive via traditional paper mail, but hey, times they are a changin’, right? Maybe the government has moved into the new millennium and started sending out tickets electronically.
Better click on it just to make sure. NOPE. It’s a link to an online drug store selling knock off medications. If we were in the market for v14gr4 then we’d bloody well find it in a dingy alley in Soho, not the interwebs. Double booooooooooooo.
3. “You have 3 Skype messages waiting” (Want to buy some drugs?)
Everybody likes messages. Especially people who use Skype. Those digital nomads, roaming the globe, keeping in touch with friends and loved ones via social media, email, and Skype, miss their people.
How excited they must be to learn that not one, not two, but THREE people have messaged them, and that they somehow didn’t notice! Yes, an email from the “Skype Team” could indeed be mana from the sky(pe), but is it?
Only one way to find out. *click*. NOPE. It’s our old friends from the online pharmacy again, selling dodgy medications to people with health concerns on a budget. Triple booooooooooooo.
The truth is, these types of shenanigans rarely (if ever) pay off. They cost a business credibility, make it enemies for life, and piss people off.
While extreme examples, we see similar bait-n-switches in legitimate brands’ subject lines all the time. These myopic tactics focus on tricking you into an open. They’re subject lines that could be written for any company on the planet, and have no relevance to the sender’s content.
See, there are few shortcuts in this business, and many do more harm than good. There are loads of services out there that can help a business market to consumers via email, but it doesn’t happen magically.
The small investment of time, effort and money can pay off, but invest we must, because email marketing is a minefield, and becoming more so with each passing day.