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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stupid Subject Lines.... Don't Be An Internet Marketing Celebrity Amateur.

I won't name names, but it's just so horrific that I really want to.

But why is it that marketers who are supposedly ACCOMPLISHED send out emails with some of the most, absolutely god-awful subject lines that even a 5-yr old could out-perform? Let me give you a sample of some of the ones I'd gotten just today:

Stupid Subject Line Number 1: "Are You Up for the Million Dollar Challenge?"

Why is this stupid: Because if it were REAL, no one in his right mind would say, "No, of course not. I wish to remain poor."

But we're marketers right? So would I want anyone who, presumably, has been pulling their hair out trying to make even a dime a month to feel like they have to suffer yet another CHALLENGE? And why would I want to put in a YES/NO QUESTION form so that one of the answers could be, "NO. I HATE YOU BECAUSE I KNOW YOU ARE EXAGGERATING!"

Stupid Subject Line Number 2: "Sam, Sam, Sam, only $37 ?"

Why is this stupid: I don't need someone I don't know saying my name 3 times. While even hearing my name ONCE from a stranger peddling info products seems disingenuous, there is SOME basis of evidence that it does get attention, but THREE TIMES?

And after that annoying little stint, why is this well-known marketer including the price? I forget the statistic but someone with a lot of experience once told me that the one thing you NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER, do is mention ANYTHING about price in a pre-sell. Let me repeat... NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER, NEVER! Not maybe sometimes. Not maybe once... NEVER!

Just look at that subject line again and repeat after me, "Oooooooh, how compelling!" Feels like a lie, doesn't it? Jammed amidst a sea of about 300 other stupid subject titles in my inbox, this guy could say my name 30 more times and drop his price $36 and I'm still not opening the email, period.

Stupid Subject Line Number 3: "Still Going (More Free and Cheap Resources)"

Why is this stupid: First, it says FREE. There go about 90% of his emails down the spam filter crapper. Did this guy just fall off the turnip truck? Or was he a one trick pony that got some big marketer to promote his product which led him to a false sense of immunity from stupid subject lines?

Also, while FREE and CHEAP are nice IF the product is right, it'd better mention a damn hot BENEFIT right away otherwise, it's giving the impression of "yet another" repository of ancient, worn-out, barely useful applications that are all infested with backend sale promotions. OOoooh Weeeee! Just what I need... more crap to lose track of on my hard drive. Thanks!

Stupid Subject Line Number 4: "Need Your Advice (6 Quick Questions)"

Why this is stupid: This "legendary" marketer, who could pay any number of experts who have already gathered such data, needs MY advice? A stranger? Well pay me. Ok, so I opened it, doubtful, but just to see if there was a bribe. By golly, there was a bribe. Answer the questions (sales pitches horribly disguised as qualifying questions) and immediately get a "bonus" worth $197.

Ok, for purposes of this post, I had to see what my $197 gift would be. Would it be a cool new script? Possibly an automated content site? Would it be a cool book on how to use forums to rake in cash? No. It was nothing. Excuse me, it was a SALES audio misrepresented as having something useful in it (yes, useful to the marketer) plus a $100 coupon to a seminar.

STUPID. Stupid subject lines leading to stupid offers.

So, pray tell, what stupid subject lines have you received today? Did you think mine was stupid? Are yours stupid? Go look in your inbox and share one.

Give us a stupid subject line and make us laugh.

ps. Oh, and I have a REAL gift for you. If you post a stupid subject line, feel free to create a link back to your site along with it (no adult, warez or drug sites, etc, I reserve the right to remove any that I deem toxic to the community).

Sam Freedom"s Internet Marketing Controversy Blog

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Chris Peterson said...


You are hilarous man! You are right, there are many marketers out there that just have no clue.

This is one I receive daily from a famous marketer.

Re: Re: Re: Chris - I need your help:

I mean he needs my help every "frigging day" yet he is rich and well known online?

I am so sick of seeing this headline in my inbox everyday!

Chris Peterson

Dolph Leabo said...

My favorite: Joanne, I personally need you! Uh, huh. The only people that personally need me are within these four walls.

That's why God made archive buttons.


plrclassroom said...


Good rant!

I'm sure I have sent out a stupid subject line or two in my day. But I have learned that no matter what I think, SOMEone on my list thinks the opposite...

My "pet peave" headline?

"You Have Received A Payment..."

I wanna strangle the dolts who use that one.


Sam Freedom said...

But Chris, we DO need your help, in the form of money! And Joanne, we DO need you, to pay our car bills. And Mike, I HAVE used that subject line when I first started out. I thought I was being funny and clever but I ended up being yelled at instead!

Thanks for these. Keep 'em comin, people...!


Marcella said...


Whatever works. :)

Thank you for letting us post a link back to our site. Here's my own stupid subject line...

"Elephants Wanted"

Thank you,


"Elephants Wanted"

Mike (HC) said...

Hi Sam,

sometimes I get real peeved at some of the "dumb" tricks used today by people I actually respect. For example, one well known expert is offering a 1$ Webinar on a subject I am interested in. The hook is, attached to the 1$ is a subscription for a newsletter for 97$ a month. As you can imagine, I did not sign up for the webinar. The subject line was "Michael, we have a "confession"...". Need I say more?

Here's a few more "gems" I gleaned from my inbox this morning:

It Happens Tonight!
this letter isn't for everyone
Michael,see you there tomorrow night?
"Never Had This Kind Of Success Before!"
Just in case I wasn't clear yesterday... Michael
Michael, watch this video *IMMEDIATELY*...

Michael Holdcroft

Mike (HC) said...

Here's another "guru" subject line for you:

Michael, I am Famous....(or is it a big dream)


Lynn Kaufman said...

There are so many, but this was classic..."Lynn, you are the first one to get this..." Sure I am. Me and the other thousand people on your "list". Egads.

(Don't miss our current sale on Rings--all tastes--casual and engagement--be ready for the holidays with a click.)

Sam Freedom said...

Marcella, are you serious? I actually need an elephant. Please forward the details..! ;-) Thanks for the example and you're welcome for the link.

Mike(HC), you just gave a PERFECT example of 5-6 emails being TOTALLY wasted by people who are supposedly all about CONVERTING prospects to sales. Kind of makes a person more aware of just what a minefield of "buffalo chips" we have to wade through in this business. Thanks.

Lynn, it's amazing how STIFF and unappealing some of these supposedly accomplished marketers can be. Tell me, wouldn't you have been more inclined to open it if it had said,

Sorry, Lynn, but I told everyone on my list about this yesterday except you... ;-)

Thanks for the example.