Top Email Subject Lines People Are Just Fed up With!

How many times have you heard the expression ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? Plenty, right?

Well, even though this idiom can be applied to many situations and it is very true, the opposite applies to email marketing. First impressions in emails DO count, as a subject line is the second most important thing that encourages people to open an email, with the first being the credibility of the sender/source.

The email subject has always been the indicator of whether the sender should open or delete the email straightaway, so it’s important to keep the following successful subject line equation in mind for the next email/newsletter/campaign you are sending out: Relevance + Accuracy + Engagement * Creativity = enticing subject line that inspires recipients to open it.

And because people have the tendency to remember negative things more than positive ones, let’s explore which subject lines you should – by all means – avoid:  

1. [company name] weekly newsletter or [day of the week] newsletter

It is clear that such a subject includes a company’s latest news, such as a new hire, client, event, etc. Even though the recipient needs to know what to expect in terms of the email content, the subject shouldn’t reveal the entire purpose of the email. Consider using these alternatives: ‘The need-to-knows’, ‘Can you keep a secret?’

2. Open me/ You have to see this

The chances are that more people will open your email if you come with a more creative alternative like ‘Today only’ or ‘Check out what’s next’

3. Hi

A two letter word is a no-no. How about something more catchy like ‘45 seconds of your time’ or ‘Let’s talk about [x topic]’


Something might be urgent for you, but not for the receiver. You could use urgent language instead of the word ‘urgent’ to promote what’s inside your email. Consider these: ‘Action required regarding [x topic]’ or ‘Approval required by 4 pm’.

5. Re: [x topic]

The last thing you want to do is to frustrate the recipient, so you should avoid using a subject line re: if it’s the first time you’re emailing a person. It’s possible your email to be opened, but if there’s no previous email history, you’re in trouble (uh oh).

6. Don’t miss out/ Check this out/ Great deal

A subject line should say something short and meaningful. Let the recipient know exactly what the email is about, revealing a little information to entice them to open it and learn more.

7. Hi [name], [question]

There’s a reason why emails are broken into parts: subject title, opening line, header, main text, conclusion, etc. Every part has its own purpose. You should try to avoid using the text you would either use as opening line as subject title and give a bit more thought to come up with a creative alternative. How’s that: ‘6 second question for [x topic]’

8. Quick call?

It is widely known that emails are either informational, promotional or something in between. Keep it as a rule that you shouldn’t establish yourself as just another pushy salesman. Position yourself as a consultant instead with a line like ‘Hoping to help with [x topic]’ or ‘Some ideas on [x topic].