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10 Types of Email Titles Most People Will Ignore

Updated on by in Email

Believe it or not, email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels for businesses. After all, the people on your list have already given you permission to email them, so they must be at least somewhat interested in your product or your company. But we all get a lot of email, every single day. Be honest — how many emails from companies do you open, and how many do you delete as soon as they come in?


The best way to get people to open your email is by giving it a great title. The title is the first thing your subscribers see, and if it isn’t a good one, it will probably be the last thing they see before sending your important message straight to the trash. There is a lot of good advice out there about how to write an email title that people will pay attention to. Here are 10 types of email titles that most people will ignore.

1. Titles that are the same every time

How often do you send out email — once a month? once a week? once a day? If the titles of your emails are the same all of the time, your readers will quickly start to think that the content is the same all of the time too.

For example, if you send a newsletter, don’t use a title like this:

Your Company Name — Newsletter — Date

This title doesn’t tell your readers anything about what’s in the email, so they have no reason to open and read it.

2. Titles that are too vague or boring


The main problem with titles that are the same every time is that they are vague and boring. They don’t tell readers about the awesome deals or must-have information that they will find inside the email.

Try to avoid other types of vague and boring titles as well. Tell readers exactly what they can expect to find. For example, if you were to send this article in an email, “10 Types of Email Titles Most People Will Ignore” would be much better than “Email Titles.”

3. Titles that are too long

We’ve all heard it over and over again — 55 characters is the absolute maximum for email titles. This is because anything longer than that will get cut off in most email programs. Some studies have shown that shorter subject lines (i.e., fewer than 10 characters) are even better. But still, there is the temptation to try and fit the entire email into the subject line. Don’t do it!

If you simply must write a longer title, be sure to put the most important information first.

4. Titles written in all caps or with excessive punctuation



The selective use of capital letters and emphatic punctuation can attract attention and increase your open rate, but all caps just looks like you are shouting (or spamming, which is even worse).

5. Titles that aren’t relevant for your audience

When someone signs up for your email list, they are signing up for a particular type of content. For example, if your company rents vacation cabins, then the people who subscribe to your email are probably interested in information about vacation cabins, or at least about vacations. Don’t send them an email with a title about accounting software — it isn’t what they want or expect from you.

6. “Check this out,” or “Here’s something you’ll like,” or something similar

Even your most loyal readers will probably ignore this one. It just looks like spam.

7. Titles that do nothing but sell

Even if the ultimate goal of your email is to sell something, don’t overdo it in the title. Email titles that are overly promotional, full of jargon, or too sales-focused without offering anything of value to the reader will be ignored.

Think about your emails as more like blog content than website content. You are invading the recipients’ inbox (and there is a lot of competition in there), so give them something they want rather than just asking them to do something for you.

8. Titles that contain the seven deadly words
In 2012, email company Baydin analyzed more than 5 million email messages to identify the best — and the worst — words to use in a subject line. Here are seven you should avoid at all costs:

  • confirm
  • join
  • assistance
  • speaker
  • press
  • social
  • invite

What should you use instead? These seven words are most likely to generate a response:

  • apply
  • opportunity
  • demo
  • connect
  • payments
  • conference
  • cancellation

9. Titles that don’t contain a verb

Including a verb, such as in a call-to-action, in an email subject is always a good idea. Just like on a landing page or any other piece of content you product, a call-to-action in an email title gives readers a clear indication of what they are supposed to do. Rather than “5 Tips for Effective Email Marketing — Free Whitepaper Download,” try “Download Your Free Whitepaper: 5 Tips for Effective Email Marketing.”

The general rule is that if you want your audience to do something, tell them what that something is and make it as easy as possible for them to do it.

10. Titles that contain spam trigger words

So far, this list has focused on email titles that humans will ignore, but before your email reaches human eyes, it must pass through a spam filter.

Marketing automation company HubSpot has put together an ultimate list of email spam trigger words, categorized by industry and type of email. You may be able to get away with a few of these once in a while, but if you use them too much, don’t be surprised if you find your emails being marked as spam — by either the spam filter or the reader.

A lot of the “rules” for email titles really just come down to common sense. As you are writing them, think to yourself “Would I open this?” If your answer is “no,” then your readers probably won’t open it either.

Author: Kamy Anderson

Kamy Anderson is an eLearning advocate who has a passion for writing on innovative and emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He has years of experience working with ProProfs learning management system and eLearning authoring tools. With his background in learning pedagogy, higher education and virtual learning, Kamy is an ed-tech enthusiast who likes nothing better than to explore and write on technology and learning trends.

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