The other day, I received yet another email with a terrible subject line. It's not the first time I've received emails like this. It's not even the first from that email address.

The subject line is intended to make me PANIC!

Like I missed out on an AMAZING DEAL!

Oh my goodness … anything but that …

The subject goes a little something like this:

“Is this email account still active?”

And then the first few sentences, with the inevitability of gravity sucking you to the soil, say something like:

“I just want to check that this email address is still valid. Because you didn't respond to the amazing offer I sent through earlier …”

Urgh.

No.

Please, stop.

One of these days, I'll reply with something worthy of emails this dumb – something like:

“Have you considered, you know, making me an offer I want?”

This sort of gambit only works on the impulsive, the unimaginative and folks who've never used email before. Am I describing your idea clients or your nightmare ones? If the latter, think carefully about using this.

No one believes you care whether the account is active. It costs nothing to add one more email to a list. You're not frantically debugging your email software, muttering “I hope Sally got that last email!”

What's the big deal? It's just an email, right?

Sure – except you're lying to your readers. You're using a stupid tactic to trick them into opening, then hoping they're not paying attention enough to buy from you.

I'm hardly being dramatic – unless you actually care about their email address' status, you're lying to them … and you're not even being clever about it.

An alternative?

Well, instead of faking concern like a patronising in-law about how someone didn't open your email …

… maybe you could offer something worth buying, wrapped in an email worth reading.

And if folk don't read your emails?

Instead of assuming they're morons who'll respond to any tired, transparent gambit, assume you're the moron. Assume your emails aren't clear, clever or curious enough to get them to open. Or your offer isn't tantalizing enough to get them to act.

Assume your readers are geniuses eager for your services, and you'll repel anyone who isn't.

Or you could do the opposite. Let me know how that works out for you.

Seems like an easy choice … except folk who should know better struggle with it. Do better than them and you'll do better than them.

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