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The term “clickbait” is commonly used in the world of content marketing. It refers most often to the use of a headline created specifically to elicit more users to click through to the content from Facebook and other sources. Often it is painted with a negative brush, used as a way of demarking content not worthy of viewing/reading which relies on a catchy title (sometimes misleading) to attract attention.

More recently, the same strategies used to create headlines that draw more readers in to articles have been used to rethink email subject lines. It doesn’t take a lot of deep thought to recognize why this is happening. An article headline acts for the article in much the same way a subject line acts for an email. Both are designed to get clicks, to get someone to take the next step and start reading.

The Case for Clickbait Subject Lines

If the subject line gets more people to click on (open) the email, your open rate will go up. This can help your overall email campaign effectiveness. An improved open rate might improve your overall email deliverability in the future as well. But both of those are only true if the content of your email succeeds in holding subscribers’ interest. Which leads us to…

The Case against Clickbait Subject Lines

If the subject line is written just to get opens, and does not pertain to the content of the email, or is misleading in any way, people will respond negatively. Your subscribers are not dumb, and they do not like to feel duped. If the content does not interest them, they will be more likely to mark the message as spam, unsubscribe, and hold your brand in a more negative light.


You should definitely write subject lines that will get more clicks. But if we define “clickbait” as a false or misleading title solely used to “trick” people into clicking, the clear answer to the question of whether or not to use them for your email subjects lines is no.