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5 Content Tips I Learned from Spam

by | Oct 16, 2012 | Industry News & Trends

Spam’s not trash. It’s content (ideas).

Most people delete email spam. I, however, like to read their subject lines much the same way people used to read cereal boxes. (It’s true kids we did, before cell phones.) In reading their marketing approaches, I’ve learned five things:

1. Appear familiar. Yes, spam takes this to the extreme pretending to be a company they are not and then misdirecting you but your email marketing and other content should look vaguely familiar to those receiving it. Make sure you remain true to your brand. Sure a person may open it once because they’re not sure what it’s from, but that will only happen once.

2. Solve a problem. I receive a whole lot of emails that promise I can have the _______ of my dreams (insert whatever noun you’d like) but if you hit on the right one that I’m interested in and need (desperately), I just might open it. Give me a (legitimate) solution to my pain point and you’re my new best friend.

3. Peak their curiosity. I received an email from a less than reputable group but the subject line did make me laugh – “Child actress Abigail Breslin turns bad.” Okay, don’t EVER use something like that in order to get people to open your email (we won’t even touch on the legality and liable potential here) but perking someone’s curiosity is a sure click. Think about all of the entertainment news sites that boast questions like “Guess what million-dollar recording artist got married this weekend?” and then a URL. Who hasn’t clicked on them? (Not me, but other people have in large numbers.) Chum the waters. Throw out some bait. Don’t give it all away in the headline.

4.  Scare them. Use this one with caution as it is a powerful motivator. However, if you present a scary possibility and they open your email only to find you are making fun of their insecurity or not providing an adequate solution, your organization will not benefit. If you bring up a concern, you better have a worthwhile solution.

5.  Simply state it. Spam subject lines are not complicated. They may not even be grammatically correct (I am by no means telling you to copy that.).  They are quick hits that are easily understandable. They use popular references.

While spam is not something to base your marketing strategy around, reading the occasional spam headline can provide you with content ideas. Look at how they appeal to the audience. Their goal is to get you to open and then click. The sensationalist approach may not work for you but you might be able to use some of these ideas to formulate subject lines and headlines.

What’s the best spam subject line you’ve ever received?


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