Using Deceptive Subject Lines in your Emails? Think twice

“ We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves. ” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It’s rather amusing how marketers would do just anything to advertise these days. The internet has become overly generous in providing countless ways to market products and services, so much that people often become averse in immersing themselves in such a raucous business. The case just becomes worse especially in email marketing, a channel wherein marketers can directly send the message across specific people.

Such power is always prone to abuse.

Thanks to the concept of spam, there has been a workable distinction between wanted and unwanted emails. Marketers are smart, though. They have devised ways to penetrate through people’s disgust over spam by using deceptive subject lines that makes marketing emails seem either “harmless” or “irresistible”. They’re amongst us. You’ve probably received one or two yourself.

“You just won an iPhone!“

Yeah, right.
But wait. Isn’t it that the decision whether to open these emails still lies on the recipient’s hands? So can we blame these marketers for scamming people?

Yes, of course.

For one, there’s actually a law that prohibits marketers to send emails if they have “actual knowledge that a subject heading of a message would be likely to mislead a recipient”. Although this may be subject to interpretation, it would at least give marketers something to think about. Also, even without such a law, the act itself is just downright unethical and could cause permanent damage. So how can marketers draw the line between creativity and deception?

Deceptive: Two entirely different things. It’s clearly a form of trickery if the subject line says something about an irregularity in your electricity bills when it’s actually an advertisement for a toothpaste brand. You need not be a detective to figure that out.

Deceptive: Two things wrongfully associated. Even if the subject line and the email body revolve around a common topic, it can still be a scam. For example, you shouldn’t use “A message from Mark Zuckerberg” as a subject line if you want to promote your company on Facebook (except, of course, if you’re Mark Zuckerberg).

Creative: Sense of urgency. Subject lines are most effective when they arouse the recipient’s most evident desires and wants. These are mostly straightforward questions of confrontational truths. For example, you can use “Is your business not popular enough?” as a subject line for, say, promoting outsourced telemarketing services.

Creative: Emotion/thought-provoking. Marketers should only go as far as implicitly igniting a person’s imagination when creating above-average subject lines, but the idea must be explicitly fitting. You don’t have to mention the keywords, but make sure it’s implied. When promoting a vacation package, your subject can say, “Next month, you could be sunbathing in Cancun.”

Reference: Is Your Email Subject Line Creative… or Deceptive?

This content originally appeared at The Telemarketing Services Blog.

Read more: