Email marketers want people who subscribe to their dispatches to click through: but certain tactics have become so tiring they make me unsubscribe.
I think I’ve reached that point. It’s the point of being pestered a little too much by an offer I can’t refuse, a deadline I can’t miss, a product I can’t live without or some shock-value phrase that doesn’t live up to itself.
Here are details on two approaches I’m seeing more and more of, and that are more likely than not to make me click that “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your email.
1. The Deadline Approach
Too many websites these days insist on getting your email address, and, unfortunately, once they have it, too many send you too many emails.
A lot of times, they are personalized so that the subject line says something like, “Hey, Patrick, I wanted to make sure you saw this.” The person doesn’t know me, so he or she doesn’t really care whether I see it. The only reason they even know my name is because I had to fill it out on a signup form so that it could then be included in the salutation as if it’s something the sender personally wrote.
When you email me about some great thing you’re offering to which I haven’t previously responded, there’s one of two reasons: either I’m too busy to read your email or I’m not interested. The chances are, it’s the latter.
Sending me multiple emails over a couple of days is like pressing the elevator button multiple times: it doesn’t make the elevator move any faster, and it doesn’t make me read your email any faster. In fact, it now almost guarantees that when I do get around to opening your “urgent” email, I’m going to scroll straight to the footer, find the link to remove myself from your mailing list and click it with enthusiasm.
The Melodramatic Subject Line
Another popular kind of annoying mass email involves some variant of the phrase, “I quit.” It leads the receiver to believe the person is suddenly scrapping his or her blog. Why on earth would someone do that? You open the email to find that what they’re “quitting” is some sort of practice they’ve decided is no longer effective.
What I then quit is being on their mailing list. I wouldn’t feel that way if the subject line said, “I quit this time-wasting habit.” That, at least, would be specific enough to be honest and useful.
But I don’t wish to be a pawn in a marketing game, and after having spent 20 years working in marketing, I know a game when I see it.
You’ll note that I don’t call this kind of thing “clickbait.” Obviously, everyone who sends an email wants the recipient to open the email: clicking is the goal for each one. And when you open one of those emails whose subject line proclaims, “I quit,” the sender explains they actually have quit something, even if what they’ve quit isn’t what you expected.
It’d be clickbait if you opened the email and they hadn’t stopped doing anything.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not annoying.
And I suspect you’ll only see more of this kind of thing. I recently saw a blog post somewhere with a title along the lines of “20 email marketing subject lines that guarantee opens.” I’m sure, had I bothered to read it, the list would have been full of things like, “I quit.”
They may work quite well. They may get those emails opened.
But for at least a segment of the audience, the primary reason the recipient opens that particular example of email marketing is, at long last, to remove themselves from the list.
Email marketers need to keep this in mind.