Are Your Email Subjects like the Drunk Guy at the Holiday Party?

Who doesn’t love a party? Most of us look forward to getting together with friends and family during the holidays. However, you’ve seen how the fun can drain away rapidly when just one person exceeds his or her personal alcohol consumption capacity.

The ‘happy’ drunk annoys everyone because the humor’s gone off key or everything is exaggerated. In contrast, the ‘sad’ drunk weeps all over you.

The ‘reckless’ drunk turns into the daredevil who invites emergency response to the party. The ‘philosophical’ drunk takes you on journeys into life’s big topics.

The ‘DJ’ drunk micromanages a clashing mix of songs, while the ‘sleazy’ drunk turns lewd and inappropriate.

The ‘sober’ drunk doesn’t seem to be affected by alcohol at all. Then he or she reveals some heavy truth that destroys relationships and levels dreams. The brain-to-mouth filter’s gone. Secrets spill on the party floor.

Has any one of these drunks written your email subject lines?

‘Happy Drunk’ Email Subjects

A ‘happy drunk’ email subject could be off topic for your intended readership. It’s annoying, and the email goes straight to trash.

Sometimes it’s the style of the email subject line that makes it happy drunk. It screams at them with ALL CAPS. Or it mixes caps and lowercase—WaCKy caPs. Both are rude and difficult to read. Email recipients instantly flag wacky caps as junk mail.

Did you really want your message marked as spam?

‘Happy drunk’ emails may be punctuated with extra exclamation marks or question marks. Trying to be the life of the party, they send the email diving to trash instead.

‘Sad Drunk’ Email Subjects

The ‘sad drunk’ email subject plays on pity. “Open Me!”

Do you really expect your audience to care about anything other than their own needs?

The ‘sad drunk’ subject is so down the email puts readers to sleep. There’s no life to it. “Our Company Newsletter.” “The Week at a Glance.” There’s nothing there to entice readers to read. The ‘sad drunk’ is so inward focused it can’t find enough energy to highlight the most interesting topic or two in the subject line. There’s no way that ‘sad drunk’ email writer will add a third interesting point to the pre-header. Too much effort.

Are you ready to stop writing ‘sad drunk’ subject lines?

‘Reckless Drunk’ Email Subjects

The ‘reckless drunk’ email writer is so focused on getting it done he or she never takes time to spell check. Getting the grammar right? Who cares? There are other more important things to do. Or the ‘reckless drunk’ email goes out without a subject line.

Has haste been sabotaging your email campaigns?

‘Philosophical Drunk’ Email Subjects

The ‘philosophical drunk’ email bores with ethereal subject lines. They’re so long half the message disappears as it rolls off the screen. The subject becomes the body of the email, when it should be the opposite.

The ‘philosophical drunk’ subject could also tell the whole story. There’s no reason to continue reading. It’s all there in the subject line.

Have you forgotten that your subject should tantalize, and the email should deliver the goods?

‘DJ Drunk’ Email Subjects

The ‘DJ drunk’ email is ‘jazzed’ up. Words like ‘URGENT’ and ‘exclusive’ appear in ‘DJ drunk’ subject lines, while jaded email readers say, “I’ve heard that song before.” ‘Breakthrough,’ ‘pioneering,’ ‘cutting edge’—these fluffy adjectives let readers down unless the email content really does deliver something truly new.

Another ‘DJ drunk’ strategy is to dress things up with symbols. Hearts. Happy faces. However, it’s easy to overdo. ‘DJ drunk’ says, “The more the merrier.”

Are you one of those smart email subject writers who asks, “Is the symbol really appropriate? Does it complement our brand?”

‘Sleazy Drunk’ Email Subjects

The ‘sleazy drunk’ email subject misleads. The contents in the email don’t match the subject.

CAN-SPAM made this illegal, however, doesn’t it make sense that your subject line should deliver on the promise within it?

The ‘sleazy drunk’ email subject may begin with ‘Re:’ to suggest the email responds to the reader. It’s sneaky. Even if it results in opens, readers feel cheated when they realize they don’t recognize the sender. Do you really want to take this alternative path to junk mail flagging?

Even worse for some readers, the ‘sleazy drunk’ email may begin with the recipient’s first name.[1] This familiarity feels invasive. Do you really know the people receiving your emails well enough to use their first names?

‘Sober Drunk’ Email Subjects

The ‘sober drunk’ email subject line seems the least offensive at first glance. We’re told to use no nonsense subject lines—something sober drunks are known for being. However, blunt subjects can also be rude. It’s important to pay attention to context. The ‘sober drunk’s’ directness is best for certain types of emails, such as notification emails.[2]

‘Sober drunk’ email subject lines can be controversial. That can pay off, if you’re not worried about keeping friends. Sometimes controversy drives exposure and sales. Other times it destroys. Are you ready to take the risk? Wait until you’re sober!

A ‘sober drunk’ email might also be boring. It’s seen in the subject line that repeats the company name, even though it’s already part of the ‘from label.’ Doesn’t a little extra name-dropping have value? No. It just devours words that could have delivered real value.

‘Sobering Up’ Email Subject Lines

Fortunately, every one of these drunken email types can be sobered up. That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. People open funny subject lines. They also open email subject lines with numbers and lists.

Personalize subject lines by interests or location. It’s less invasive.

Use interesting, yet correct punctuation. For example, Cold Water Creek had excellent results with “Going…Going…70% off Ultimate Sale is almost gone!”[2]

Focus on messages your readers will be interested in. There’s no reason your emails need to share anything in common with the drunk at the party.


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[1] http://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/the-5-worst-email-subject-lines-in-the-world.html

[2] http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/03/31/email-subject-lines