9 Painfully Bad Subject Lines From My Actual Inbox

Don’t certain subject lines make your blood boil?


Maybe I’m a bit jaded, as one of my jobs on a daily basis is to attempt come up with subject lines that don’t suck.

And there are a lot of subject lines that suck.

I went inbox-diving for all of you, emerging with some of the worst subject lines I’ve ever seen. These are REAL examples from all three of my email inboxes along with some guest contributions from my coworkers.

From these examples, you can learn what NOT to do with your email subject lines if you want your emails to actually get opened.

“Get Rank on first Page in Google”

This particular email was forwarded to me by one of my former coworkers because of how simply awful it is. There are so many issues with this. First, look at the capitalization. Most keywords are capitalized, but whoever wrote this missed one, “first.”

The second issue is the wording. Whoever wrote this clearly either didn’t speak English well or didn’t understand the subject matter that they were covering. Not a good start and this would have been sent straight to my spam folder. I know that my former coworker blocked the sender.


Please stop yelling at me. That’s really about all I have to say about this. I really don’t care what you are inviting me to, and this subject line reads as if I’m being screamed at. If a stranger yelled, “YOU’RE INVITED!” to you on the street, would you go over and accept the invitation, or walk away as quickly as possible? I would choose the latter.

“Courtesy Reminder: You’re About to Get Dropped Off My List”

Really? So all I have to do to make you stop emailing me is ignore you? This sender floods my inbox with useless emails daily, which I never open. Is this email supposed to make me feel guilty and start engaging? I guess so, but the combination of lack of engaging content combined with this pseudo-threatening message makes it off-putting and more than likely will trigger me to unsubscribe from the sender.

“Count me in!”

This is actually less about the subject line and more about the content surrounding it. This email came from the university I graduated from. It then went on to say in the email copy, “Congratulations on your upcoming graduation,” and then, of course, went on to ask for money. I graduated last year. The issue here is that the email itself is mistargeted. On top of that, it has an exclamation mark in the subject line, which is generally something you want to avoid.

“Premium Download Super Sale for St. Patrick’s Day!”

More exclamation point sand then another example of mistargeting. This email came from “Gradimages.” They can use all the show-offy sales words that they like in the subject line, but it will not make me buy a graduation photo from last year. If I didn’t buy it already, I wasn’t going to buy it. You can make every holiday have a sale on that image, and I still will not buy it from them. You’d think that the lack of engagement on their countless emails would tip them off, but apparently, that is not the case.

“Celebrate the Most Wonderful Time of Year with Our Holiday and Winter Invita…”

This email subject line is far too long. I pulled over the preview mode on my email client to catch as much of the subject line as I could and it still wouldn’t fit. I would recommend 30 to 50 characters, but this chart seems to recommend 50 to 70.

“A webinar for everyone…Check out upcoming webinars!”

Repetitive much? Not only is this subject line boring and formatted oddly, but it uses webinars two times and uses both ellipses and an exclamation point. Spam filters and the like usually flag these types of subject lines with too many symbols.

It also says absolutely nothing. What kinds of webinars are there? Are they of interest to me? Why am I getting this email?

“Cash for referrals! 5 homes left! Get them while they last!”

So. Many. Exclamation Points.

Also, the word “cash” is very spammy. The incredibly salesy urgency also adds to the spammy effect.


I did a little digging and found out that these little emojis are seeing increased use in subject lines. They are apparently good for mobile, which might be why I found this particular line so off-putting. It’s supposed to be little darts hitting a bullseye, but it just looked strange sitting in my inbox. Like weird little hams. They did nothing to make me want to open the email besides the fact that they looked odd and out of place. This is probably because of the lack of text. It will be interesting to see how emojis are used in the future of email marketing.

Maybe these subject lines don’t bother you as much as they bother me. But they are still pretty bad, and if any of these, or anything similar to these hit my inbox, you can guarantee they will be sent straight to the trash.


Let us know what you think: 

  • Are you constantly seeing subject lines you hate?
  • Which ones really grind your gears?



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Comments (5)

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[…] “9 Painfully Bad Subject Lines From My Actual Inbox” (March 16, […]

Acadia.Thanks for the laughs. I don’t receive too many marketing emails and most go straight to the junk file. So, changing the subject, I thought I’d send you some ill considered web addresses I’ve spotted over the years. Feel free to share. By the way, I live and work in Perth, Western Australia so some of these examples might be a bit obscure but still funny. I hope you don’y get offended easily.

Poorly thought out website names

All of these are legitimate companies or organisations that didn’t spend quite enough time considering how their online URLs might appear … and be misread.

1. ‘Who Represents?’ is where you can find the name of which agent represents which celebrity. Their website is


2. ‘Experts Exchange’ is a knowledge base where programmers can
exchange advice and views at


3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than ‘Pen Island’ at

4. Need a therapist? Try ‘Therapist Finder’ at


5.The there’s the ‘Italian Power Generator’ company. It obviously promotes the notion of the ‘Italian stallion’ with


6. And don’t forget the ‘Mole Station Native Nursery’ in New South
Wales. It might inadvertently attract a paedophile or two with


7. If you’re looking for IP solutions – or somewhere to relieve yourself – there’s always

8. The ‘First Coming Methodist Church’ website is registered as


9. And the designers at ‘Speed of Art’ are waiting for you to break wind in your budgie smugglers at their wacky website


10. Finally, the Australian National University Students’ Union decided to hold a conference. All the details could be found on


So, when you devise your Internet address, please write it down and study it carefully before you commit it to the worldwide web!

Acadia, these are fabulous! Fun to read – at times hard to believe they were actually really sent – and great, quick tips for how NOT to write a subject line. Thanks for sharing!

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