Should You Lie in Your Subject Lines to Increase Your Email Open Rate?

Should You Lie in Your Subject Lines to Increase Your Email Open Rate?
March 1, 2016 Sandy Sara

Is it a good idea to use misleading subject lines?

The short answer: no.

Here is the long one: Imagine the title of this blog was actually called “How to lose weight in ONE easy step!” so you, being interested (because who doesn’t want to lose weight that easily?), decide to click through to read the article, to then be disappointed because you find out that it’s actually about email marketing. I know, I’d be upset too – why am I still 5kg too heavy? Although, this is no different to sending emails with misleading subject lines.

It’s not a good idea to get your subscribers excited about something that is actually not worth the hype (like that same sale you do every second week). I mean, how many times do you scroll through Facebook, see an article titled “SHOCK: You’ll never guess what Kanye West did!” click through to read it, and find that it was actually less shocking than Justin Bieber making good music. You wind up regretting spending 2 whole minutes of your life reading that article, that you decide to never click on one again and be fooled. Okay, maybe you’ll still read them, because who could resist? Although, it isn’t the same with emails. If you irk your audience, they won’t just stop reading your emails, they’ll click on the dreaded unsubscribe button.


Misleading subject lines are not the best way to gain open rates.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to straight up lie in your subject lines to frustrate your subscribers, but misleading them by insinuating something or making false promises isn’t a good idea either. The other day I received an email in my inbox, with the subject line “Congratulations! Our winner is…” and then when I opened up the email, of course, the winner was not me. However, for those 5 seconds when the page was loading to open the email, my heart was racing and I was getting excited thinking, maybe, just maybe I had won something. You could imagine my disappointment, since I’m writing this article to tell marketers that this is a BAD idea (I’m not a sore loser).

Yes, I know, you might say that their plan had worked since the subject line successfully made me open up their email. Although, that is not our jobs as digital marketers. We don’t just want to get amazing open rates. What good is it to have your subscribers open your emails when they wind up feeling annoyed? You should send relevant and honest emails to help with engaging and maintaining your valuable subscribers. A better subject line and email the company could have sent me was, “Sorry you didn’t win, but here’s a 20% off coupon code.” I know it’s not just me – I’m sure we’ve all received an email that has made us frustrated with the lack of content after opening because of an interesting sounding subject line.

Here are 3 quick tips to help you with writing engaging subject lines that don’t need misleading subject lines to help with open rates:

Tip #1: Keep it clear and relevant.
A good subject line gives an idea of what your subscribers expect to find inside the email, without giving too much away (unless it is a transactional email).

Tip #2:  Keep it short and sweet.
Aim for a maximum of 50 characters in your subject line. This will help in getting straight to the point and engaging your subscribers.

Tip #3: Keep it personal.
Using personalisation in the subject lines provides a sense of validation in the subscriber’s mind when scanning through their emails. If you saw your name I’m sure it’ll also grab your attention too!