19 terrible email subject lines

The author looks at her spam folder—and her inbox—to identify and chuckle at some real stinkers. Come along for deride!


With the holiday shopping season in full force, our spam folders are overflowing with special offers and one-of-a-kind deals.

About once a week, I open my spam folder and scan the subject lines to see what not to write in an email subject line. The best email subject lines should be concise and straightforward and give the reader an idea of what the email is actually about.

Here are some examples of the worse email subject lines I’ve seen. These are from real emails:

Register to Win Your FREE iPod!! This one is so generic, I skip right over—don’t even see it.

Meeting Request: Introducing our new SEO Software. We need to meet to discuss your new SEO software?

Laura, did you receive my last email? My answer to this question is “no” and to hit the delete button.

Laura, can we meet? The personal touch is a bit creepy, especially since I have no idea who you are. And no, we can’t meet.

Positive thought for the day. Positive thoughts by email—what a great use of this communication technology.

10 things you should know to become an epic manager. What is an “epic manager,” and how do you know I’m not already one?

Last chance to complete our survey! I didn’t even want the first chance to complete your survey.

Complete our survey and receive $100 virtual dollars. Really? Virtual dollars? (And thanks for the extraneous $.)

An Exclusive Invitation to our INSURANCE seminar. An insurance seminar? Where do I click?

To plaque it or toss it? That is the question. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Since when is plaque a verb?

Would you mind replying to this email? Not at all—delete.

We can HELP you with you’re RESUM. I can help you with your spelling.

Father’s Day deals for the man who gave birth to you‏. So many questions …

Here are some that are not from the spam folder, but are just sent from colleagues and co-workers:

Read this. This tells me nothing about what your email is about.

Please read. Same problem, although at least you said please.

Must READ! Now it must be serious. We have all caps and an exclamation point.

Update. So let me see if I get this, you have some new information for me.

Meeting. You want to schedule a meeting, talk about the meeting we just came from, never meet with me again? Which is it?

Information. So, let me see if I get this: You have some information for me.

What are the worst email subject lines you’ve seen?

Laura Hale Brockway is a medical writer and editor from Austin, Texas. She is also the author of the writing/editing/random thoughts blog, impertinentremarks.com.

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