Three Words to Avoid in Emails

Joe D

Email marketering service bureau MailChimp conducted a study of its customers' email campaigns and found that some of the most harmless words can spell disaster when included in email subject lines. Because of bulging inboxes and an endless torrent of spam, the study found that readers treat new emails as guilty until proven innocent.

The study concluded that if a marketer wants their emails to be read, both by friends and business contacts, there are a few words that a marketer would be well served to avoid. Based on the results of this study, MailChimp has created a list of the top three words to avoid in a subject line based on analysis of over 200 million emails:

  • Help - Never put the word "help" in the subject title. It may be like a crime in progress where passers-by keep on walking, or maybe most readers have just reached their respective capacity to "help," but most readers do not respond to this word. The reluctance to open "help" messages may also stem from well-known scams asking for assistance. The most common source for these scams is Nigeria.
  • Percent Off - While it may be counterintuitive, the stronger the commercial pitch in the subject line, the less likely it's going to be read. Consumers have had to become savvy in navigating their email inbox -- as soon as an email smells like a sleazy offer it's zapped with the delete button.
  • Reminder - Always avoid using the word "reminder" in the subject line. If a marketer needs to send out a reminder, MailChimp recommends to avoid the word "reminder" and, instead, communicate in the subject line that there is useful information inside that the reader is going to want. Analogous to "reminder" is repeating the same subject line for a particular event and sending out several emails in advance. The first email may get read, but after that, it's splitsville.

The three innocuous words above are joining the ranks of other all-too-popular spammy words including Free, Sex, Cialis, and you probably have your own [not]favorites. Not only will an email not get read if the subject line or body is peppered with these spam words, the odds are it won't even get to the reader.

And getting an HTML email to the targeted inbox has become even more of a challenge thanks to firewalls and spam filters. The net result is an obliterated email that never gets to the intended recipient. By avoiding the three words mentioned above, email marketers should be more successful in getting their intended audience to open their emails.

MailChimp started out as a Web development company way back in April 2000, building websites and applications for hundreds of clients around the globe. They subsequently promoted their email marketing tool as “so unbelievably simple, a monkey could use it. - Thus the name "MailChimp.”

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