My spam folder is full of marketing inspiration.

I check the folder regularly to make sure I haven’t missed anything that matters to me.

I also check to see which subject lines catch my eye.

Here’s one I noticed from Quiet Village Landscaping, sent the day after our mid-November snowstorm: “Still have an icy walkway & driveway? We need to talk.”

That’s a great subject line.

If you don’t have an icy walkway, you move on. If your walkway is icy (as mine was), your brain says, “Yep. That’s me.” And if you consider that icy walkway a problem, you might open the email. I did.

The email said, “Not signed up for salting, plowing & shoveling already? Snow problem. Snow and ice came early this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for the rest of winter. Sign up for snow services and eco-friendly ice melt application for your driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks.” It ends with a link to “Get a Quote.”

Good stuff, despite that cheesy “Snow Problem” pun.

The subject line grabs your attention by asking whether you have a certain problem. The email quickly and concisely offers a solution.

I bet that email drove a ton of business.

Here’s one (of hundreds) from my spam folder that didn’t impress me: “re: please call me back.”

I have no idea what this email is about, but I’m sure it’s not from someone who called me. I’m not going to click through thousands of vague, tricky subject lines to see if -- just maybe -- there’s one that’s relevant to me. If you don’t tell me why you’re writing, I’m not opening.

Here’s another yawner of a subject line: “Cognism.”

I opened simply because I was planning to write about this bad subject line. Turns out that’s the name of the company.

The email said: “Cognism is working with global Marketing Agencies to help drive lead generation for you and your clients. Our AI platform provides access to over 400 million B2B profiles....”

If I wasn’t writing this column, I never would have read that.

Hey, Cognism, if you’re reading, try this subject line next time: “Want more+better leads? Our AI can deliver them.”

That’s better, more like “Still have an icy walkway & driveway? We need to talk.”
Here are a few others I didn’t open:

“Quickquestion, MarketVolt”
“Tom, open for a call on Tuesday?”
And my absolute…

...least favorite:
“Got 10 mins?” See ya.

If you want to get my attention, take a minute of my precious time, get me to open your email and give me something I can relate to (yep, I have an icy walk).


This post first appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly for which Tom Ruwitch writes a regular marketing column.

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