Writing email subject lines is part of what I do every day. That means I’m all too aware that 1) clever subject lines aren’t always more effective than your straightforward, and even dull, versions, and 2) being clever isn’t easy.
So while I have no way of knowing if the subject lines that landed in my inbox this week from U.K. home furnishings retailer Cargo and children’s clothing merchant The Children’s Place generated satisfactory open and clickthrough rates, they are nonetheless worthy of kudos for their creativity, if nothing else. In other words, they persuaded me to open the emails, even though I no longer live in the U.K. and I’d dropped a small fortune on clothing for my child just last week.
“What are you doing with your 25th hour?” was the subject line of the Cargo email I received on Thursday, three days before the British were scheduled to set the clocks behind one hour to mark the return to Standard Time. It’s a great, unforced tie-in to something that Cargo’s audience is no doubt aware of (and anyone who had forgotten about having to switch the clocks no doubt appreciated the reminder). At the same time, it piques just enough curiosity to encourage recipients to click through.
In the body of the email, which leads off with an attention-grabbing image of colorful alarm clocks, Cargo suggests using that extra hour to take advantage of an extra 25% off certain lines of bedding. The sale was scheduled for just one hour only—not in the wee hours of the morning but rather from 7 to 8 p.m. Limiting the time frame of the sale to just one hour is perfectly in keeping with the theme of the promotion—and it has the added benefit of not costing Cargo too much in lost margin. And for those not in the market for Kirsty Allsop or Orly Healy linens, the email serves a reminder that Cargo is offering 10% off almost everything else in its stores and on its website.
“Fiends & Family Event—25% Off? LAST DAY” read the subject line of the email from The Children’s Place. My first thought, when I saw this at 4 a.m. during another of my sessions with insomnia, was that The Children’s Place had failed to catch an embarrassing typo. I’d like to think that if I’d been more rested I would have immediately recognized this as some sort of Halloween tie-in, but in a way it doesn’t matter: I’ve had email pros tell me that subject lines they’d erroneously sent out, with typos or internal messages such as “TEST,” pulled better than standard subject lines. So while curiosity may kill the cat, it can also spur consumers to open an email.
That’s certainly why I clicked through: to see if “Fiends” was intentional or a typo. And as is clear from the downright adorable cartoon bat on the email message, this is indeed a Halloween promotion.
The Children’s Place home page, by the way, carried through with the messaging and even more adorable graphics.
Both of these emails serve as reminders that marketing in general, and the crafting of subject lines in specific, is an art as much as a science. And I certainly wish I were artistic enough to come up with something like these messages.